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Why Stress Makes You Want to Eat Everything in Sight (or Nothing at All)

Stress in it’s various forms is unavoidable throughout the course of our days and lives, and in certain examples, such as exercising or our natural fight or flight response, it is actually a good thing. The major concern for us all is when stress becomes chronic, which for most of us may lead to patterns of over eating, or not eating at all. Research has proven that various form of stress will cause a release of certain chemicals within our bodies, eliciting different negative or positive responses and outcomes. The keys lie in discovering what the certain triggers are, and implementing good stress relief techniques on a consistent basis. I personally begin my days with a few minutes of  spiritual reading and prayer before having breakfast and looking at my phone to check my work calendar and emails, and / or social media. This helps me set the tone for my day and prepare both mentally & physically. Today’s post comes from the team over at I hope you enjoy it! – FR


Why Stress Makes You Want to Eat Everything in Sight (or Nothing at All)

By Jeff Cattel

Stress impacts our bodies in numerous ways, from tension headaches to trouble sleeping. It also affects our appetite: On some nights before a big test or work presentation, we can go through a bag of Cheetos or a pint of Ben & Jerry’s in no time. But in other nerve-wracking situations, we lose our appetite completely. What gives? Turns out there are both psychological and physiological factors at play.

Where’d My Appetite Go?

The two seemingly contradictory responses come down to a simple distinction: Are you experiencing acute stress—the kind that elicits a fight or flight response—or is it something more chronic?

Our ancestors often had to make split-second decisions to stand their ground or flee as fast as possible—like when that bear smelled the delicious food they were cooking. But even in our cushy modern world, there are plenty of triggers that can spike our anxiety and elicit that same reaction. (If you’re a city dweller, just think of any close calls you’ve had with cabs when trying to cross the street.)

In these moments, the body releases adrenaline, which ultimately gives us a boost of energy and slows down a number of other body processes, including digestion, says Matt Kuchan, Ph.D, a senior research scientist at Abbott. Specifically, adrenaline slows peristalsis, the process that moves food through the digestive tract, which means you’re less likely to feel hungry.

Why Can’t I Stop Eating?

While today’s world isn’t full of threats that provoke a fight or flight response, we still face plenty of stressors. In fact, 75 percent of Americans experience regular stress, according to a survey by the American Psychological Association. The same survey found that one in three Americans turns to food when stressed (nope, you’re not the only one).

“We wouldn’t stress eat if it didn’t work,” explains Susan Albers, a psychologist at the Cleveland Clinic and author of the forthcoming book 50 More Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food. “It makes us feel better only temporarily.” One study, for example, found that chocolate boosted people’s moods, but only for three minutes.

Plus, long-term stress leads to increased levels of the hormone cortisol in our bodies. A number of studies show that cortisol entices us to eat more, especially comfort foods. These high-calorie, high-fat foods are aptly named: One recent study found that women who consumed comfort food had a decreased perception of stress. That result is thanks in part to the dopamine that gets released in our brains when we eat these finger-lickin’-good foods. The problem is we need to eat more and more comfort food to achieve that dopamine “high” over time.

Your Action Plan

Whether you speed dial Papa John’s or can’t fathom taking even a bite of pizza when stressed, the solution is similar: We all need to relax. It may be easier said than done, but learning to turn down our individual stress dials as much as possible can play a big role in our appetite’s response to stress.

If you tend to overeat, try to replace that bag of chips with something soothing that’s not food-related, like a quick phone call with a friend you haven’t talked to in a while. You can also try practicing deep breathing or simply stepping outside for a walk to clear your mind.

And if you notice you’ve lost your appetite, it may be helpful to plan meals—what you’ll eat and when you’ll eat it—in advance, Albers says.

Overall, when it comes to stress-reducing techniques, it’s better if you can work them into your everyday life, rather than use them in a moment when things are getting out of control, says Amy Shah, M.D., a doctor in private practice in California.

One tip: Start your day with a 10-minute buffer, Shah recommends. When you get up, take a few minutes for a quiet activity you really enjoy, like meditating, stretching, or journaling. “When the first thing we do in the morning is reach for our phones, it’s easy to let stress open our day,” Shah says. “When you ease in, there’s a big difference in the amount of stress you experience.” Plus, having an enjoyable morning ritual is also a great trick to keep you from hitting the snooze button.

Is the rear foot elevated split squat as good as the back squat?

What’s better for training & developing leg strength?, the rear foot elevated split squat or the traditional back squat? I personally utilize both of these movements in most of my trainee’s programs, as well as for my own training. The vast research has proven that lower body unilateral & bilateral training are equally important and beneficial, whether your a professional athlete or anyone training for overall strength & conditioning. Today’s post comes from The Strength & Conditioning Research Team. I hope you enjoy it! – FR

Is the rear foot elevated split squat as good as the back squat?



You have no doubt come across the conflict between the strength coaches who prefer the traditional back squat and those who prefer the rear foot elevated split squat or RFESS (also called the Bulgarian split squat). Whether it is really necessary to choose between these two perfectly good exercises, of course, is a different matter. Anyway, most proponents of the RFESS argue that the same improvements in leg strength and transfer to sports performance can be achieved in athletes when using the RFESS and the back squat. On the other hand, the detractors point out that this claim has never really been demonstrated by research. Until now, of course.

The study

Unilateral vs Bilateral Squat training for Strength, Sprints and Agility in Academy Rugby Players, by Speirs, Bennett, Finn, & Turner, in Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research (2015)

What did the researchers do?

The researchers compared the effects of two resistance training programs (one using the back squat and one using the RFESS) on measures of strength, sprint running ability and agility (change of direction speed) in rugby athletes.

Here are the key details:
  • Population: 18 academy rugby players, aged 18 ± 1 years
  • Intervention: All subjects trained for 5 weeks, using either the back squat or the RFESS
  • Comparison: The two groups were compared with each other and with baseline measures
  • Outcomes: 1RM back squat, 1RM RFESS, 10m sprint, 40m sprint, pro agility test

What did the researchers find?

Both the RFESS and back squat groups improved most measures similarly and there were no differences between them.
Effect of resistance training on 1RM back squat and 1RM RFESS
Surprisingly, the researchers found that the RFESS and back squat groups improved back squat 1RM almost identically, by 5.7 ± 3.8% and 5.0 ± 3.7% respectively. There was no difference between the groups. Similarly, they found that the RFESS and back squat groups improved RFESS 1RM identically, by 9.2 ± 2.1% and 10.5 ± 3.2%, respectively.
Effect of resistance training on sprint running ability
The researchers found that neither group improved 10m sprint times, but both the RFESS and back squat groups improved 40m sprint times similarly. The RFESS group trended towards a slightly larger increase (1.7% vs. 1.1%) but this did not reach significance.

Effect of resistance training on agility

The researchers found that both the RFESS and back squat groups improved pro agility times by almost identical amounts (1.7% vs. 1.5%) and there was no difference between these changes.

Barbell Back Squat

What are the practical implications?

This study is a big step forward for strength and conditioning, as it demonstrates that traditional, heavily – researched exercises such as the bilateral squat are not irreplaceable in athlete development programs. Other, more modern exercises can be equally effective in some cases. And yet, coaches should not discard the traditional bilateral squat, as there is an enormous amount of research that has been carried out in this exercise. Such research can be used to alter technique to optimum effect, select appropriate squat variations to stress different muscle groups, and identify the best variations or techniques to develop power or rate of force development.