How does chronic stress affect the ability of the body to use fat as energy?

The purpose of this article is to illuminate the link between chronic stress, and your body's capacity to use fat as energy. Nutritionists often ask me how lifestyle can affect our metabolism. One question which has become increasingly common is, "What are the effects on chronic stress of the body's capacity to burn fat as energy?" We will explore the fascinating science of this topic and offer practical advice that is based on recent research .

Understand the impact of chronic stress on fat metabolism

Stress can have a significant impact on the metabolism of your body. Stress causes our bodies to release hormones like cortisol, which encourage fat storage rather than its breakdown as energy. Evolutionarily, the body is designed to conserve its energy in times of stress or perceived threats. This was advantageous for our ancestors, who were faced with physical threats. However, this is not the best option for us modern humans. Our stresses today are psychological and often long lasting.

Multiple studies show a correlation between increased abdominal fat and chronic stress. In a study published in Journal Obesity, individuals who experienced high levels of life-long stress saw their BMI and waist circumference increase significantly over the course of nine years compared with those experiencing low levels.

Approaching Stress management

Stress management can improve your body's capacity to burn fat. It's not necessary to eliminate all stress sources, which can be difficult. Instead, it is important to focus on our response. Adopting healthy strategies for coping with stress can help you to return your body to normal metabolism.

One such strategy is physical activity. Exercise has also been proven to increase fat oxidation and reduce stress hormones. In a study published in Journal of Applied Physiology, regular aerobic activity significantly increased fat oxidation in healthy adults.

How to counter the effects of chronic stress

Other Tips

It's important to remember that managing stress is only one part of a healthy lifestyle. It's important to maintain a healthy diet and get regular exercise. You should also ensure you sleep well, stay hydrated, and have a good night's rest. Remember that every person is unique, and what may work for someone else, might not be the best for you. Listen to your body to find out what suits you best.


Chronic stress, due to elevated cortisol levels, can have a negative impact on the ability of your body to burn fat as energy. By adopting healthy strategies for stress management and maintaining a balance lifestyle, you can mitigate the effects of chronic stress and improve your metabolic health.