One of my mum's friends told me that I should eat more calories than usual during my revision/exam period because I'll be stressed, which burns calories. I'm not sure if this is true or not, she's a nurse and also has a Ph.D so I'm sure she must have some idea what she's talking about, but I thought if anything I'd put on weight because I'd spend longer sitting down and revising. I do know people who've lost weight during periods of stress but I thought this was probably due to the stress putting them off their food or something. Does anyone know if stress affects the metabolism and if I should eat more calories then how many more?
I often heard that stress causes you to gain weight (but it might be more directly from the stress-related eating).
I guess I'd wonder - if stressful studying writing burns more calories, more calories than what? Going to the gym? Doubt it. Lying on the couch watching tv? Probably. I would keep your intake the same, but make sure you are getting healthy options, so you are less likely to fall back on the quick fixes that you later regret.
On a side note, you've reminded me of an awful habit I had in college - every time I had a big exam or paper due the next day, I'd get a big bag of nacho doritos, and eat the whole thing that evening. I have no idea how I didn't gain weight doing that. Yet when I tried it in my mid-20's with cheese-its... well, I ended up on CC+.
I am just finishing up my thesis and about to defend in less than a week so I think I'm probably where you're at with stress! I have have lost a noticeable amount weight over the last three weeks.
I think the most important thing is to not consume extra calories but make sure the calories you do consume are really packed with nutrients. Your body may be sedentary but your mind needs to stay sharp. If you're eating a bunch of refined carbohydrates, your blood sugar levels will bounce around a lot, which for me doesn't help with staying focused for the 14 hours or more I'm spending at my desk each day. A little extra protein doesn't hurt either. Just listen to your body I guess, if you're truly more hungry eat something. A lot of the time though, when I'm studying I tend to eat to stay awake or to focus, not because I actually need the extra calories.
Most times when I'm stressed, my entire body is just generally tighter, and moves more. Every once in a while I'll catch myself and realize I've been clinching the muscles in my stomach for the last 2 hours, or tapping my foot for 45 minutes straight. I also pace a lot. I imagine most people have some degree of this, which sounds like it would burn more calories.
Cortisol is a byproduct of stress, which is known to make you store fat around your middle, but I don't know much more about it than that.
Adrenaline is produced in the short-term when you encounter anxiety, fear, stress, etc. This causes all your systems to sort of gear up for battle. Your heart goes faster, your breathing is harder, that sort of thing.
I've never heard of stress directly altering one's metabolism, but there are many ways it could do so indirectly, I think.