At some point, everyone has overeaten when they're stressed out, but you might be surprised that there are bigger consequences than feeling bloated and adding some extra time to your next workout. A new study published in Biological Psychiatry has found a direct correlation between stress eating and fat storage: being stressed out while (or even before!) you eat can change the way your body metabolizes food, making you more likely to store the calories you eat as fat.
Researchers questioned 58 healthy women about the stressors they had experienced in the previous 24 hours before serving them a meal consisting of 930 calories and 60 grams of fat. Then, scientists took a number of measurements including the women's metabolic rates (how long it takes the body to burn calories and fat) and their cortisol (stress hormone) levels. Women who had reported at least one stressor during the previous 24 hours burned 104 fewer calories than women who reported no stressors — a difference researchers say could result in weight gain of nearly 11 pounds a year!
While 930 calories and 60 grams of fat sounds like a ton of calories and fat for one meal, it's spot-on with the fast-food favorites many people grab when they're craving some serious "comfort" food. If you're aware that stress eating is a problem that plagues your relationship with food, check out these stress-eating tips that can help you regain lost control. Sometimes, it's just the difference of slowing down, taking a few deep breaths, and honestly asking yourself, "Am I hungry?" It seems so simple, but these three little words make a world of difference.