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  • Writer's pictureAsna I.

Stress and Weight Gain: The Impact of Stress on Weight and How to Manage It

For some people, weight gain can cause more stress. Understanding the relationship between stress and weight gain can help people recognize and control aspects of their health.

Stress can affect your ability to maintain a healthy weight. It may also prevent you from losing weight. Whether it's high levels of the hormone cortisol, negative behaviors caused by stress, or a combination of the two, the link between stress and weight gain is clear. Self-care strategies such as mindfulness, journaling, and exercise can help you combat stress and its negative effects on eating.

This blog explains how stress can cause weight gain, including the connection between stress and weight gain. Also, how can you manage it?

The Link Between Stress and Cortisol

Analysts have come up with research explaining that stress hormones can lead to cortisol weight gain. Each time you're focused, your adrenal organs discharge adrenaline and cortisol, and as a result, glucose (your essential source of energy) is discharged into your bloodstream. All of this is usually done to provide you with the energy you would like to prevent a risky situation (also known as the battle or flight response). Once the risk has come down, your adrenaline wears off, and your blood sugar spike drops. Usually, when cortisol kicks on top, it adapts to renew your energy supply rapidly.

Stress-Induced Unhealthy Habits

In expansion to the stress and hormonal imbalance related to stress, it can also drive you indulge in unhealthy behaviors, all of which can cause weight gain:

Emotional eating:

High cortisol not only causes you to crave unhealthy foods, but your nervous system often causes you to eat more than usual. 5. You may find that an occasional snack or two meals reduces your appetite. It's frustrating, but it makes healthy weight loss worse.

Eating "accessible" or fast food:

When we are pushed and not controlled, we tend to eat the first thing we see and what is promptly available, which isn't continuously the most beneficial choice. You will also be more likely to drive through a fast-food joint instead of taking the time and mental energy to cook an adjusted, solid feast.

Exercising less:

With all the requests on your plan, working out may be one of the last things on your to-do list. If that is so, you're not alone. A long commute and hours going through sitting behind a work area can take off small opportunities for physical movement.

Skipping meals:

After you are juggling a dozen things at once, eating a healthy meal can drop down within the list of needs. You might discover yourself skipping breakfast since you're running late or not eating lunch since there's fair as well much on your to-do list.

Sleep and weight management:

Numerous individuals report difficulty sleeping when they're stressed. A study has connected sleep deprivation to a slower metabolism, highlighting the significant relationship between sleep and weight management. Feeling overtired can, moreover, reduce determination and contribute to unhealthy eating habits, emphasizing the crucial role of quality sleep in fostering overall well-being and supporting effective weight management.

How to Break the Cycle of Stress and Weight Gain?

When you're stressed, healthy habits like healthy eating and regular exercise can easily fall by the wayside. Maintaining a schedule and routine can help make these healthy habits prevent weight-related stress. Here are some tips we often share at our weight management clinic with our patients:

Make exercise a priority:

Exercise is an important part of stress reduction and sustainable weight management. It helps you solve two problems at once, so it's important to combat gaining weight. Incorporate exercise into your daily life, whether it's going for a walk during your lunch break or hitting the gym after work.

Eat healthier comfort foods:

You don't need carbs or fat to feel better. One of the few studies evaluating the effectiveness of healthy foods in improving the heart found that eating healthy foods like popcorn pollen tends to cause negative emotions like "bad" foods. Making sure your pantry is stocked with these foods will make it easier for you to make healthy choices during times of stress.

Practice mindful eating:

Focusing on what you're eating without distraction can help reduce stress, promote weight loss, and prevent weight gain. A study revealed that overweight women who received stress management and nutrition training stayed away from unhealthy foods and experienced less stress, thus losing weight over time. Next time you eat, try to enjoy your meal without being distracted by your phone or TV.

Keep a food journal:

Tracking your eating habits can help you control your food intake. A 2011 study examining the link between self-care and sustainable weight loss found that people who kept a food diary were more likely to control their weight than those who didn't. So, whether you use an app to track your food intake or write everything down in a food journal, paying attention to what you put in your mouth can improve the way you eat.

Drink more water:

It is easy to quench thirst with hunger. But mixing these two desires can cause you to eat more calories than your body needs and gain weight. It is easier to recognize hunger when you eliminate minor dehydration. If you feel hungry a few hours after eating, try drinking water first. If you're still hungry, have a snack.

Incorporate stress-relief strategies into your daily life:

Whether you enjoy yoga or find solace in reading a good book, try adding simple stress-relieving techniques like deep breathing, listening to music, or walking to your routine. Doing this can lower cortisol and help you manage your weight.


Does cortisol cause weight gain?

Cortisol provides your body with more energy by promoting the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates. While this process is important for survival, it can also increase your appetite. Additionally, high cortisol levels can lead to cravings for sweets, fat, and salt.

How to lose stress fat?

When safe, physical activity is a great way to manage stress. Not only does it provide distraction, it also stimulates the release of endorphins, which elevates your mood. Increasing the intensity and duration of exercise without increasing calories can lead to medically supervised weight loss.

Does stressing burn calories?

The stress hormones that our bodies release can speed up our metabolism, causing us to burn calories faster. In more extreme cases, prolonged stress may lead to depression, which can also cause weight loss.

How do you manage stress and weight gain?

Higher cortisol levels can also cause people to build up fat around their bellies. Learning to reduce stress through exercise and meditation—while also being more mindful about food—can have a large impact on your well-being and help you keep weight off in the long term.

The Bottom Line

Stress is a normal response to daily routine. However, chronic stress can cause physical changes in the body that can lead to unhealthy weight gain. For some people, stress and weight gain can lead to increased pressure, creating a vicious cycle.

Stress can cause hormonal changes that increase blood sugar and insulin levels in the blood, which can cause people to crave more calories, fat, and sugar. Stress also affects levels of other hormones associated with hunger and satiety and can affect cognitive processes such as self-control. All of these conditions can lead to stress-related weight gain.

Knowing the relationship between stress and overeating is the first step in addressing stress and weight gain. Things people can try include writing about stress and eating habits and practicing healthy eating habits.

People can also try ways to control of appetite, such as staying hydrated, eating more protein, and engaging in appetite-suppressing activities. If you need medical help for losing weight, visit Dr. Joya Women's Healthcare for weight loss in Portland Oregon. We have helped many clients in their weight loss journey. From making you a personalized plan to prescribing your weight loss medication, we'll work hard for setting weight loss goals.

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