Recently, more and more of us are attempting to ‘eat like a Kardashian for a week’ or trying the ‘Victoria’s Secret diet.’ Given the dramatic change and sheer ridiculousness of the diets, those attempting them often fail. Maybe this is because a smoothie and salad a day isn’t enough to get a regular human being through a busy week. However, there is slightly more to it…
In reality, when Kim K and Co. are given an intense workout and nutrition programme, they’re advised to carry out relaxation exercises and flooded with stress-busting tips. This is because health professionals understand the importance of stress and how it affects our motivation and ability to lose weight.
Attempting to cut calories when working 9-5 or swamped with deadlines is an ambitious endeavor. Living in a constant state of stress doesn’t only affect our mind and motivation – but also how our body functions.
Each of us has evolved a system to adapt to stress – known as the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis. This system is responsible for the release of the primary stress hormone, cortisol. Hence, with more stress comes more cortisol – but can our body cope with an infinite amount of stress? Sadly not.
Whether we’re physically stressed with lack of sleep, in emotional turmoil, or have a high work demand – at some point we all crack under the pressure. So, during these stressful spells in life, how helpful is carb cutting or calorie restriction?
If you can’t make time for the gym or feel you’re gaining weight, cutting calories can become very tempting. However, you may be doing yourself more harm than good. Evidence suggests that that restricting ourselves only increases the level of cortisol in our bodies. Even monitoring calories can impact our psychological well-being, whether we realise it at the time or not.
It’s a similar story for carb cutting – in that it may not be the best idea when your body is already struggling to function. Although carb consumption depends on the individual – the general rule stands that the more demand we put on our body (through stress, exercise, lack of sleep), the more we need and crave carbs.
So, when attempting a diet with less substance than the Kardashian’s themselves, bear in mind the impact this will have on your body. Work on first reducing the source of stress – whether this means finding time to relax, fixing your sleeping pattern, keeping up with your workload, or all of the above. Because, if we combine calorie cutting with our already stressed-out selves – it may be more trouble than it’s worth…