Stressed people burn fewer calories
It's a good idea to learn how to manage stress without reaching for comfort food. A study published in Biological Psychiatry says stress slows down the metabolism, causing people to burn fewer calories for as long as a day after the stressful incident. As a result, people with stress who eat fatty or unhealthy foods may gain more weight than usual.
Researchers from Ohio State University analyzed 58 women ages 31 to 70. Some experienced a stressful event the previous day. The participants ate a 930-calorie meal with 60g of fat—the equivalent to a burger and fries from fast food restaurants. Researchers then monitored the participants’ metabolic rate, blood sugar, triglycerides, insulin level and cortisol level for seven hours after eating.
Women who were stressed burned 104 fewer calories than women who were not stressed. Stressed women also stored more fat because they had higher insulin levels and lower fat-burning rates. To put this in perspective, one researcher pointed out that adding 104 calories per day could result in gaining 11 extra pounds in a year. Women who were both depressed and stressed encountered higher triglyceride levels after eating, compared to women who were not depressed. This may provide insight into the depression-heart problem association.
It was also noted these results are a bit exaggerated since not everyone eats fast food every time they’re stressed.