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Ted Talk 145: How Stress Sabotages Your Fat Loss Results (And How To Beat It)

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Ted Talk 145: How Stress Sabotages Your Fat Loss Results (And How To Beat It)

Although fat loss might look highly complicated for most people, the truth is that it is pretty simple, and it depends on two major factors. The first is strategy; fat loss becomes a straightforward process if we have the right plan in place.

The second is a little bit trickier, stress management. The biggest issue with stress is that it works behind the scenes, on a subconscious level most of the time, and it walks around and makes us do things mostly undetected.

So, how is stress sabotaging our fat loss, and how can we call it out if it does it secretly?

In this episode, Ted reveals how stress secretly sabotages our fat loss, using its master puppeteer abilities to make us fall into the emotional eating cycle, and blocking our brain’s executive functions.

He also explains the importance of creating new habits to break with emotional eating habits, what we can do if we feel we’ve struggled with fat loss for ages, and two simple yet effective ways to deal with stress. Listen Now!


You’ll learn:

  • How does stress affect our brain’s executive functions, and how does it impact our capabilities to deal with impulses
  • Emotional eating is not only about negative emotions; rewarding ourselves with food is also emotional eating
  • What are the ways to deal with stress
  • How creating new habits can help us cut emotional eating from its root
  • When is the right time to ask for help in your fat loss journey
  • And much more…


Related Episodes:  

Ted Talk 99: Help! I Can’t Stop Emotional Eating!

Ted Talk 121: Help! I Can’t Stop Stress Eating!

Ted Talk 143: Your Best Body Ever: Understanding How To Control Hunger, Manage Stress & Improve Your Sleep with Ted Ryce


Links Mentioned:|free 


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Podcast Transcription: How Stress Sabotages Your Fat Loss Results (And How To Beat It)

Ted Ryce: Fat loss can be so hard for some people. But what I want to tell you is: it’s super simple. It’s so simple, it’s not even really that challenging at all, when it comes to the proper strategies. It’s taken me 23 years to get to this point and believe me, I was really confused when I started out back in 1999 as a personal trainer, trying to help my clients eat better so they got even greater results with me in the gym.

 And here’s what I’ve learned, I used to think it was carbs or chemicals or hormones that stop people from losing fat. Now, what I know is this: the two big things that I help my clients with are number one, strategies. Too many people are using the incorrect strategies because of no fault of their own, at least sometimes, it’s because of all the misinformation out there.

And the second is, too much stress, and stress is the number one thing that I see stopping my clients. If I’ve got a client who is struggling to lose fat and they hit the dreaded “plateau” for maybe a month, maybe even more, I know it’s a stress issue. So that’s what we are going to be talking about today.

What is up my friend? Welcome back to the Legendary Life podcast. I’m your host, Ted Ryce, and welcome to another Real Talk Friday. And we are going to be talking about stress, we are going to be talking about specifically, the secret way that stress sabotages your fat loss.

And why say secret is this: you probably already have read about how stress raises cortisol and cortisol causes you to store fat. And here is what I want to tell you. There’s some truth to that, but did you know that starvation also raises stress levels? Look, if you’re not getting enough energy from eating food, you can’t store fat.

So what I’m going to talk about today, and it’s okay if you don’t believe me, I don’t want you to believe me, I want you to listen with skepticism—I mean, I know I’m right, but I want you to listen to what I’m going to tell you, and then I’m going to challenge you to go implement what you learn, and see if it doesn’t make a huge difference. So, let’s dive in.

Number one, if you want to lose fat, you need to learn some new information. More specifically, you’ve got to learn the right strategies. And once you learn those strategies and some of you know a lot of good strategies, maybe even great strategies, but after you know them, then you have to put them into action consistently every single—with the case of fat loss, almost every single day. Now there is a way that your brain needs to work—or more specifically, a part of your brain that needs to work well. If you want to learn new information, remember that information and then take action on that information. And that part of your brain is called your Medial Prefrontal Cortex.

This is the area where, what is called your executive function is. And if you have been listening to the podcast for a while, you have heard me talk about executive function before. What does executive function help you do? Well, how about manage impulses? 

So, someone brings in some donuts to the office and you are… let’s say you are tracking your calories, that is what I have my clients do. And you are saving up some calories for something else, maybe going out to eat for dinner and so you are going to say no to the donut, but if you’re stressed, you’re not going to be able to control that impulse, you are like, “Oh! let me just reach for the donut.”

Another thing that your executive function helps you do is it helps you keep things in working memory. In other words, you have got to remember, “Oh, I’m suppose…” Let’s say, even if you do eat the donut, you’ve got to track it. You’ve got to… you know, that’s what I have my clients do, works super well. I teach them how to do it, that’s why you see the great body transformations.

You can go give it a try yourself, of course, My Fitness Pal, get it on your phone and start doing it. But you need to remember, oh, how do I do this? So when you are learning new skills and applying new skills, your executive function helps you keep those memories—because that’s what you have to keep in mind—in your working memory.

So in other words, you keep information in your working memory, like what do I have to do here? Oh, go into the app, track, let’s see, which one do I choose? Okay boom! Another thing that your executive function helps you do is it helps you plan ahead. Let me ask you this, how many times have you been on a fat loss journey and you didn’t plan ahead because you got too stressed and too busy at work and too much going on and, then you ended up eating more and kind of sabotage your results.

So those are all examples of how stress stops your executive function, stops your brain from working, but more specifically your executive function, your prefrontal cortex. And if you don’t have this area working and working well, it’s going to be impossible for you to... or almost impossible for you to lose fat, to follow through with your strategy

Because you’re trying to change behavior. That’s why you’re trying to lose fat. If you were already lean, you would already have those lean behaviors working for you, but you don’t. So you need to change your behavior, and it takes conscious effort to make that happen, it takes work and stress stops part of your brain from working. So let’s move to number two.

Stress leads to the emotional eating cycle. So let me ask you if this sounds familiar. Oh man, I got a flat tire today, my employee didn’t do what they were supposed to, or I had to fire an employee or you got fired or whatever it is, and now you’re feeling bad. And so what do you do? Or maybe it’s not even feeling bad because something is so negative. Maybe it’s, “Wow! It’s just been a really long day, and now it’s time to reward myself with some food.”

So it could be from a negative thing, it could be from a positive thing and you might, but you’re eating to give yourself either some state change, some emotional state change, in other words, to feel better from the negative event that you went through or you’re rewarding yourself for all the hard work that you’ve done. Both are emotional eating cycles because you’re not eating because you’re hungry, you’re eating because you want to feel differently than you do.

And when you do this, you end up eating a bunch of stuff and you feel bad about it, and then you start to see your body change if you do this consistently, which also makes you feel bad, which makes you eat more because you’re trying to make yourself feel better and that’s the cycle. Do you see how that works?

So if you are in a situation where you get a case so the fuck-its, because you were doing so well, but then something threw you off, maybe it was even a vacation and you just weren’t planned for it. So it’s not a terrible thing that happened, but let’s say you overate, you drank too much, you overate, it led to some bad feelings—at first it felt good, though.

But then you’re like, “Oh man, I drank too much and ate too much, and now I’ve put on a few pounds and oh, I kind of feel bad, I got a case of the fuck-its, so why don’t I just let this keep going?” That’s the emotional eating cycle. If you’re feeling bad, then you’re eating, then you’re feeling better, then you’re feeling bad, then you’re eating and then you’re feeling better, and it’s just on repeat.

And here is the thing, you’ve got to shift away from using food to manage your emotions, you have got to shift away. I’m going to say it again: you have got to shift away from using food to either reward yourself or to manage your negative emotions. And people think, oh, it must be hormones, it must be some complex physiology, the gene interaction with the pro… No, you’re stressed and you’re over eating. This is the truth folks. It’s not any of that complicated stuff that people talk about online. Maybe in rare cases where someone is very sick, there’s something else going on.

And of course, some medications can cause weight gain, but they all do it because they are making you feel a certain way, and it’s stimulating your appetite. All right, if you are eating and if you are overeating, let’s say you are in the overweight.

Let’s say, if you take your BMI, you’re in overweight or obese body fat range, you don’t need the food, why do you keep eating? You don’t need the food. In fact, you’re eating more food and it’s making your health worse. Why are you doing it? Well, it’s not a conscious thing, is it? And that’s what we’re talking about, that’s how stress drives you into that cycle.

And let’s talk about this: there’s only two ways of lowering your stress, two ways, that’s it. You either solve the underline problem. For example, I have been… This is not some people’s idea of stress, but I have been traveling every month for the past five months, maybe even more, I would have to think about it, but maybe even over six months.

So I have been all over the place, I have been to Mexico, I have been to the US I have been to Portugal, then I have been to Texas, in the US. So I’ve been to Miami, in the US, Orlando in the US, and then went to Portugal and then… You’re getting the point, right? I was all over the place.

Every month, it was somewhere different and I was changing cities or changing countries. And guess what, it sounds probably like some people’s dream, right? You are like, “Oh man, not really feeling sorry for you, Ted,” and that’s okay. But the fact is, and sure, I did that to myself.

The fact is, it was stressful. You’ve got to unpack; you’ve got to pack. I’m in a new situation, where am I going to get food? How am I going to do this? How am I going to set up to work? Am I going to be able to sleep well because, I’ve got blackout blinds and a good AC, which isn’t a problem in the US, but in Portugal, I ended up without an AC for a month and it was horrible, which was also stressful, because I slept poorly, anyway.

So solving the problem for me was me committing. I’m in Brazil now, and I’ve committed to be here for three months. In fact, that’s going to be my new thing. I’m going to stop jumping around everywhere and I’m going to make sure that I’m in a place for three months.

Now look, that’s just what I’m struggling with, but it could be something very bad, it could be, you know what, maybe you’re in a toxic workplace and you’ve got to leave. And you’re like, “my boss is terrible.” Or you have an employee who’s a toxic employee, and you got to fire him and they’re bringing down your team every single day, and you’re like, “Oh, man, but I don’t want to fire him, why don’t I just give him another week to see if it improves, week to see if the behavior improves.”

So they’re solving the problem, and the other side of that is managing the emotion, so coping with the negative emotions. And when we’re talking about coping, we’re talking about two ways of coping: negative and positive.  For example, if I gamble all my money away and develop a cocaine addiction and become an alcoholic and beat my kids, right?

So that’s an unhealthy way of…I’m kind of exaggerating and just kind of joking around, but you get the point, it’s unhealthy, it’s affecting you negatively, and to make it more realistic, is if you are overeating and drinking. Women tend to overeat food, guys tend to drink more alcohol when they’re under stress, according to some surveys that were done by the American Psychological Association. So that’s pretty unhealthy way of dealing with your stress.

Now there’s healthy ways of dealing with your stress; you can go exercise. If you are struggling to grow your business, or you’re struggling with jet lag, exercise isn’t going to fix your source of stress, but it’s going to make you feel better. Another thing is I’m getting ready to go to acupuncture right now. I don’t really like acupuncture that much, it’s painful when they stick the needles in, so I’m going for an acupuncture/massage session, actually.

So, I feel like, “Oh man, fuck! that hurt. They stick the needles in you,” and I don’t get acupuncture. I get acupuncture in something called dry needling, which are much longer needles and go deeper, and it’s actually a form of physical therapy designed to help with the muscles.

And it works great for my lower back, even though I don’t know how evidence-based it is, but I don’t care, it works great. So that’s a couple ways. So I have chronic pain in my body, which that’s stressful. It’s like ouch, ouch, ouch all day long. And when I go to acupuncture, my psychological stress goes down and also my pain levels go down.

So, are we clear about the two ways of doing it? So, they’re solving the underlying source of stress and then we have coping with the negative emotions and we have an unhealthy or healthy way of doing that. And quite simply, determines healthy from unhealthy is the result that we get from that coping mechanism.

And overall, it’s the way you do it. Is it terrible if you overeat or over drink one time, no Or smoke a little bit too much weed, selling it in the streets of New York, I see, on weed what do you call them, food truck style, weed dispensaries? But if you’re smoking weed every day, getting drunk every night, overeating everyday, that’s going to lead to negative health effects.

I want to say this too, because this is important. You can overexercise, and that was my drug of choice. I’ve shared this before I used to smoke marijuana every single day to deal with my negative emotions. Then I was like, “Oh! Well, this isn’t healthy for me, what I’ll do is, I’ll go do Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, and I will do that.” Except my joints were aching, I have so many injuries from it and I just powered through it because I was addicted.

You may not appreciate it, but… if you’re in the same situation, if you’re like, “Oh, I’ve got to exercise, I’ve got to exercise,” and you’re working through pain, you’re causing a negative health effect to yourself.  So it’s really important because it isn’t just about gaining weight here, it’s about any of the unhealthy ways of coping with stress. So make sure what you’re doing is healthy

The next thing I want to tell you here is, if you do have unhealthy habits, or unhealthy coping mechanisms, which if you look down at your waist, and you’ve got that spare tire, you’re in the overweight or obese category. That’s what you have, that’s what’s caused by some stress eating or drink and/or drinking. So how do you break that?

Well, you’ve got to replace it, period. You’ve got to replace it. I don’t see it working any other way, I’ve never seen it work any other way. You can’t just say, well, I’m going to go home and watch Netflix after a stressful day at work, but I’m just going to watch Apple TV or Disney Plus, and I’m going to not eat, I’m not going to binge eat the food that I’ve been eating. I’m going to control myself

That’s not going to work. It might work for a day, maybe even a week, if you’ve got a lot of that executive function going for you, but eventually you’re going to have to create a different habit. You’re going to have to find something else

I’ve told this story before, but I’ll tell it again. I was talking to one of my clients about this, and he was telling me, “Oh, look, if you’re going to tell me that I need to eat broccoli and go for a run to deal with my stress, instead of watching TV and emotional eating, I’m going to tell you to shove those carrot sticks up your ass.”

I mean, he didn’t say it directly to me, but he made a joke about it, and I totally understood where he was coming from. I was like, “No, I’m not going to tell you to do that. I’m going to challenge you. What do you need to be doing? What is that thing for you that helps?” And then he listed a few things out and I said, “okay, well go do them” Find something to get into

And I’ll tell you a little secret here in my personal story. I used to feel so out of control with marijuana use. What does that have to do with overeating? Well, folks, it’s all the same shit, you’re out of control. You have basically an addiction, but the addiction isn’t even about necessarily what you’re doing.

Sex addiction, porn addiction, gambling addiction, food addiction, alcohol addiction, marijuana addiction is all the same obsessive, trying to shift your emotional state, behavior. And so what I did to kick the habit of emotionally turning to marijuana every time, emotionally eating marijuana– I didn’t eat it, I smoked it, but eating is way more intense.

So to get rid of that unhealthy coping approach. I had to do something drastic. I joined Jiu-jitsu and at first it was healthy and it could have been done very healthy, had I had a coach or I did have a coach, my Jiu-jitsu coach, but he was unhealthy too, he was full of injuries.

And so if I would’ve had a healthy… that’s what we do in our coaching program, is we help people create healthy body transformations. We help you become healthier in your mind and your body, because if you don’t do it with your mind, and even if you’re able to do it with your body, you won’t be able to keep it.

If I could snap my fingers right now, give you a six pack, give you the body that you’ve always wanted, you would lose it. No, I wouldn’t Ted. Yes, you would. If you don’t know the right strategies, if you… because the reality is this, I’m very fit right now, I’m very lean right now and I’m able to sustain it because I have healthy habits.

I’m not over exercising like I used to, I’m not overeating like I was doing recently after my dad died in 2020. 2021 was basically a year of not… I wasn’t overeating that much, but I lost that level of leanness that I worked so hard to achieve in 2019. So you’ve got to break those bad habits by creating a better habit, a healthier habit.

And here is the last one, folks. And I want you to really pay attention to this one. If you’re struggling with this stuff, you need help! And if you’ve been trying to do this on your own and you consistently fail at it, you need help. Simple as that, and that’s okay, we all need help.

And if you’re super busy growing your business or working in your high-performance career, yes, you are smart. You might have a higher IQ than me. You might be way more accomplished than me, but here’s the thing. You have an expertise that you’ve worked many years to develop.

It’s why you’re a high-performance professional or entrepreneur. I’m actually learning how to become an entrepreneur, but let me tell you what my expertise is, helping people with…I’m trying to decide what adjective, what amazing strategy… so I help people with the strategies.

So, if you’re stuck in low carb and high intensity interval training, or boot camps and doing all this stuff and you’re not getting results, it’s your strategies are not working, or the other thing is breaking the bad habits. You might need help with that, and let me tell you. What I do on the calls, and I’ll offer a call today, if you want to hop on a call and talk with me.

What I do on the calls is this, you need to have a certain level of your life handled for you to be able to lose fat. And if you don’t have your life handled, you’re going to constantly struggle with this, and you’re going to think it’s something else, but it’s you overeating, not even knowing that you’re overeating and it’s because you have no idea. You’re just not on top of it.

Your brain isn’t working well, your executive function isn’t working well due to all the stress you’re under and again, that’s whether you’re growing your business and making millions of dollars, just sold your business, or you’re broke as hell. Being broke as hell is probably going to be harder, but it doesn’t matter, right? You’re going to need help

And for those people who are under massive stress, it’s like they need a psychologist, and a good one, I don’t mean just any, a good one. But if you feel you’ve got things handled to a certain extent, you just need some help getting pushed over the edge, then you need someone like me.

So, if you’ve got major emotional issues, because you’re going through a divorce, you hate your wife or your husband, you’re struggling financially, you’ve got a bunch of health issues. Maybe a psychologist is probably who you need, but if you’re in a position where you’re like, “Hey! My relationships are good, my work is stressful, but a lot of it’s me not creating proper boundaries and I keep trying to get in shape, but I’m just not able to do it,” you’re the type of person I work well with.

And so if you’re there right now, if you’re feeling you’re there, what I want to tell you is this: book a 15 minute call with me Go to and book a 15 minute call. And on that call, we can talk about what’s going on, we can talk about what’s stopping you from achieving the body that you want, we can talk about what your vision for your body and your health looks like.

And then thirdly, if we feel it’s a good fit, you feel I’m a good fit for you. I feel you’re a good fit for what I offer, we could talk about being in the program and if it’s not a good fit, I’ll let you know. I’m not trying to get a thousand clients here, I only have five spots left for this period where I’m opening up applications.

So again, if you feel you’re a good fit and you feel you are in a place where you have things managed enough that you got to take action, go to So , that’s it. So just a brief recap here, and then we’ll say goodbye.

Number one is chronic stress stops your brain from working specifically your executive function, the working area of your prefrontal cortex. Number two, stress, whether it’s negative or positive can lead to the emotional eating cycle. So, you’re either eating because you feel bad and want to feel better, or you’re eating to reward yourself.

Number three, there’s only two ways of lowering stress. there’s solving the underlying problem, and then there’s coping with the emotions of stress. And how we cope with emotions, most people are overeating. So, it’s unhealthy How do we know it’s unhealthy? because it’s creating health problems for you.

So, the fourth is we’ll need to break that habit of emotional eating by creating another habit. We’ll have to either, if you’re feeling bad and going to food to feel better, or if you are rewarding yourself consistently, because you’re so stressed and you deserve a meal and a bottle of wine or three, we’re going to have to create another habit.

And five is, if you’ve been trying to do this on your own, probably time for some help. And I want you to think about who’s the right person to help you. If you feel I’m the right person, go to that link, the

But if you feel you need… like, “man, I love what you talk about Ted, but I feel like in a really bad place,” well then get a psychologist. There’s no shame in that, that’s a good thing, that is you solving the problem, right? Or at least taking steps to solve the problem. So, you might need help and that’s okay. So those are the five That’s the recap.

Listen, I hope you got a lot out of today because this is what I feel nobody’s talking about in my industry. They’re just talking about carbs, carbs make you... all the nonsense about physiology and the foods you eat and listen, some of those things are important. I’ve talked about how food choice and sleep, but we don’t talk about stress. It’s just something that isn’t even in the mind of people when it comes to health or when it comes to fat loss, except, oh, well I heard that stress makes you fat.

Well, it does, but it’s through your behavior, not magically making fat appear on you. Just like if you build a building, you need blocks to build it. You can’t build a building with no blocks and certainly you can’t put a fat on a body with no raw material. You need to eat the calories to do it. And that’s it, folks. All right.

Hope you enjoyed this, and I would love to challenge you. What can you do here to take action on what I shared with you today? That’s what I’d love to challenge you with. Have an amazing weekend, and I’ll speak to you on Monday.

Ted Ryce is a high-performance coach, celebrity trainer, and a longevity evangelist. A leading fitness professional for over 24 years in the Miami Beach area, who has worked with celebrities like Sir Richard Branson, Rick Martin, Robert Downey, Jr., and hundreads of CEOs of multimillion-dollar companies. In addition to his fitness career, Ryce is the host of the top-rated podcast called Legendary Life, which helps men and women reclaim their health, and create the body and life they deserve.

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