There’s no doubt that regularly treating yourself to fat-filled high-calorie meals can add unwanted inches to your waistline. A new study published in the journal Biological Psychiatry suggests experiencing stressful situations during the 24 hours leading up to that meal can make a bad situation worse by decreasing both your metabolic rate and fat oxidation, which is the conversion of large fat molecules into smaller ones for use as energy.
Researchers from Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center had 58 women regulate food intake before sitting down to a 930 calorie meal containing 60 grams of fat – about what you’d get with a loaded double-patty hamburger and fries. Thirty-one subjects reported at least one stressful situation the day before and they burned 104 fewer calories than subjects who reported no stress 7 hours after consuming the high-fat meal.
True Strength Moment: Scientists calculated that the stress-related differences between metabolic rates and fat oxidation could result in a weight gain of 11 pounds over the course of a year. So the take home message here is don’t feed your stress with comfort food, especially since a previous study showed stressed-out humans have a tendency to develop a taste for sweets and fat.