Bad news, ladies: Findings (subscription required) recently published in Biological Psychiatry show that women who consumed comfort food while feeling stressed burned fewer calories than their zen-like counterparts.
In the study, Ohio State University researchers quizzed a group of women about what was causing stress in their lives before they ate a caloric meal consisting of eggs, turkey sausage, biscuits and gravy. Scientific American reports:
Turns out that the most stressed women had higher levels of insulin. Which slows down metabolism and causes the body to store fat. And that fat, if not burned off, accumulates in the body.
The women who had reported feeling stressed or depressed in the day before eating the meal burned 104 fewer calories during the seven hours following the meal than women who felt more mellow.
If eating high-calorie comfort food to alleviate stress becomes habitual, the result could be an average weight gain of 11 pounds per year.
So next time you're feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, you might want to reconsider reaching for a cupcake.