When you exercise and burn more calories, you burn more body fat (also known as lean mass). This means that you gain more weight, but this is because you are now burning more calories than before. In a study by Gubovits and colleagues, people with more stressful lives were found to lose more weight. The researchers hypothesized that this could be because stressful people tend to carry more fat and burn more calories than people who live simpler lives (i.e. happy people, who have less stress). To test this hypothesis, the researchers measured the body fat, leptin, and body weight in two groups (healthy and stressed) before and after a single session of exercise. They also measured levels of free fatty acids, insulin, leptin, and C-reactive protein (a biomarker for inflammation) in the participants’ blood.
The researchers found that during stress, participants lost more body fat and leptin. This was associated with an increase in blood leptin and body fat levels in the volunteers.
The positive link between stress and obesity was shown in a second study which showed “a consistent, positive relationship between the consumption of an energy-dense, low-fat (and high-carbohydrate) breakfast within three h of waking the following morning and serum leptin concentration over the subsequent three hours,” according to Gubovits, in a University of Pittsburgh press release.
“This is what we are finding at our lab and it’s important to emphasize it is not a bad thing to get a healthy energy intake during the day. But, because of our study design and methods we don’t want to conclude that eating breakfast increases the risk for obesity,” he said.
Bottom Line: Being overweight or obese is more common in subjects with a long history of stress – regardless of their health
The bottom line is that the more stressful lives you have, the more likely you are to gain weight, no matter how nutritious your breakfast, the researchers write.
If you eat a healthy breakfast, you can reduce the risk of becoming overweight.
But if you are like me and you just go to the gym because you think it will help you lose weight, you probably won’t see some weight loss benefits. Exercise is great for weight loss, but it is not a cure-all for weight gain. The more stress you have, the more likely you are to gain weight, no matter how nutritious your breakfast.
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