Today we have a great guest post from Nutritional Therapist Claire Grady who gives great information on the importance of stress management.

Check out more of Claire's posts at






Unlimited Fitness is more than just a gym, it's a community that allows you to set and achieve personal fitness & health goals. The foundations of this community is to focus on 4 main areas; Nutrition, Exercise, Stress and Sleep.


These 4 pillars are the foundation to to achieving and maintaining optimum health. That's why I've decided to delve a little deeper into these some of these pillars and see what effect they can have on our day to day lives. How we can improve on these pillars and incorporate them in to every aspect of our lives in order to achieve and maintain a healthy body, mind and soul.


Stress Management


Stress can signify a variety of different things to each and everyone of us. We often associate Stress as the feeling of being under too much mental or emotional pressure however our perception of stress incorporates emotional, physical, internal and external stresses.

Stress can come in many forms and for each one of us it can present in a variety of different ways but the physiological expression of stress is one that we have some control over and one of the easiest ways to control effects of stress on our bodies is through the food we eat.


One major area which causes countless challenges for our body is the constant struggle between Cortisol & Insulin otherwise know as Blood Sugar Balance.


Cortisol is an important hormone in the body, secreted by the adrenal glands and involved in many vital functions including; glucose metabolism, regulating blood pressure, stabilizing insulin release for blood sugar maintanence, immune & anti-inflammatory response which are all required for keeping our bodies healthy and happy.


Normally, cortisol is present in the body at higher levels in the morning, and at its lowest at night and should maintain a steady even release throughout the day. Often referred to as “the stress hormone” because it’s secreted in higher levels during the body’s stress response this isn't the only reason that cortisol is secreted. In fact more often than not spikes in cortisol levels are due to our daily lifestyle & food choices.


While cortisol is an important and helpful part of the body’s response to stress, it’s important that the body’s relaxation response to be activated so the body’s functions can return to normal following a stressful event. Unfortunately, in our current high-stress culture, the body’s stress response is activated so often that the body doesn’t always have a chance to return to normal, resulting in a state of chronic, constant, stress.


Sticking to the Western diet typically high in sugar or caffeine, low in protein,  omega 3 fats & fibre  with minimal exercise alongside a high stress job or lifestyle can lead to on going irregularities and spikes in our cortisol levels.


Higher and more prolonged levels of cortisol in the bloodstream have been shown to have negative effects, such as:

Impaired Memory and Concentration

Increased cravings for sugar & stimulants to get through the day

Suppressed Metabolism and Weight Gain

Blood sugar imbalances: energy highs and lows throughout the day

Slow Bowel Transit times

Higher blood pressure

Lowered immunity and inflammatory responses in the body such slowed wound healing, and other health consequences


Any of these sound familiar?


The most worrying of all of these negative effects is the marked increase in abdominal fat – the fat around the middle. Increased visceral fat is associated with a greater amount of health problems than fat deposited in other areas of the body. Some of the health problems associated with increased stomach fat are heart attacks,strokes, the development of metabolic syndrome, higher levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and lower levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL), which can lead to other health problems! So keeping a healthy weight especially around our middle is key to maintaining optimium health and wellbeing.


Often external stressors can feel out of our control and therefore can lead to us feeling overwhelmed or anxious. However, the good news is, we actively decide what and when we eat and therefore we can take our control back in decisions and choices we make everyday, throughout the day.

The food we choose to eat daily can help support our bodies and adrenal function as we go through stressful periods in our lives. Yeah!!


So here are some stress busting take homes:


Low GL Diet: this will help us stabilize our Blood Sugars throughout the day therefore keeping your energy levels stable throughout the day and helping us drastically reduce our need for sugar and stimulants to keep us going. The premis of this lifestyle choice is to eat a balanced meal of Protein, Good Fats, Vegetables & Complex Carbohydrates with every meal.


Eat a Rainbow: Focus on eating all the colours and variety of vegetables to increase your antioxidant intake.  Aim for approx 20 different types of veg a week, this will provide our body with the nutrients and antioxidants it needs in order to fuel and support ourselves.


Switch off and Sleep: Our bodies work hard all day and they deserve the adequate time to rest and repair themselves over night so you can wake up rested and refreshed ready for the day ahead. Aim towards a full night of restorative sleep from 6 to 8 hours

Support our Adrenal Function during stressful periods


Reduce Stimulants and Sugars: Fast releasing sugars and stimulants such as coffee and fizzy caffeinated drinks will spike our blood sugars; causing an insulin burst. Your liver responds to this spike by turning any sugar it can get it's hands on into fat and storing it in the easiest to reach place ususally around the middle, leading to weight gain.


Protein & Fibre: Increase the amount of protein and fibre we take in at every meal. This will slow down the release of glucose from the food we eat and therefore reduce the perpetual insulin/cortisol spikes therefore stabilizing our blood sugars and ultimately keeping our energy levels stable throughout the day.


If we focus on keeping our energy stable all day we can stop ourselves from over eating, reduce our reliance on sugar and stimulants, improve our metabolism, keep us in a non-stressed nervous response and maintain a healthy weight.


To work closer with Claire to help address your stress levels check out her page at

or to make an appointment please call 087-6274636 or email