Stress causes weight gain: Deciphering why the more stressed we are, the more… fat

Did you know stress causes weight gain and significantly affects our ability to maintain a healthy weight? How to get out of this vicious circle?

Whether it’s the result of high levels of the hormone cortisol or unhealthy habits or a combination of the two, there’s a strong link between stress and weight gain. Let’s dig deeper to fix it in time, friends!

The link between stress and cortisol


Adrenal glands release adrenaline and cortisol

Researchers have long suggested that an increase in the stress hormone cortisol can lead to weight gain. Every time you’re stressed, the adrenal glands release adrenaline and cortisol, and as a result, glucose (your main source of energy) is released into the bloodstream. This is done to give you the energy you need to get out of a stressful situation.

Once the “threat” subsides, the high adrenaline levels subside and blood sugar levels drop. This is when cortisol spikes to replenish your energy supply quickly.

Cortisol and sugar cravings

Cortisol and sugar cravings

Consuming a lot of sugar increases belly fat

Because sugar provides a quick source of energy to the body when it needs it, it’s often the first thing that comes to mind when stressed.

The downside of consuming too much sugar is that your body tends to store sugar, especially after stressful situations. This energy is stored mainly in the form of belly fat, which is difficult to lose. And so the vicious cycle begins: stress, cortisol release, weight gain, sugar cravings, more sugar, and weight gain again.

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Cortisol and metabolism

Stressed women also have increased insulin

Stressed women also have increased insulin

Even if you don’t eat foods high in fat and sugar, cortisol slows down your metabolism, making it difficult to lose weight.

Researchers interviewed many women about the stress they experienced the day before, before feeding them a high-fat, high-calorie meal. After finishing the meal, the scientists measured their metabolic rate (the rate at which calories and fat were burned) and tested their blood sugar, cholesterol, insulin and cortisol levels.

The researchers found that, on average, women who reported one or more stressors in the previous 24 hours burned 104 fewer calories than those who did not. This can lead to 5kg gain in a year. Stressed women also experience increased insulin, a hormone that contributes to fat storage.

Unhealthy habits caused by stress

In addition to hormonal changes, stress can also cause you to engage in the following unhealthy behaviors, which contribute to weight gain:

Emotional eating: Increased levels of cortisol can not only make you crave unhealthy foods, but it can also make you eat more than usual. Eating will reduce your stress but make it harder to manage a healthy weight.

Eat fast or “accessible” food: When stressed and unplanned, we tend to eat the first thing we see or what is available and accessible, which is not always the healthiest option. You’re also more likely to buy fast food than you are to spend the time and mental energy cooking a healthy, balanced meal.

Eat fast food

Exercise less: With a busy schedule, exercise can be one of the last things on your to-do list.

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Skip meals: When you’re organizing dozens of things at once, eating a healthy meal can get relegated to the priority list. You may skip breakfast because you’re late or don’t eat lunch because there are too many things on your to-do list.

Sleep less: Many people say they have trouble sleeping when stressed. And research has linked a lack of sleep to a slower metabolism. The result is weight gain.

How to break the vicious cycle of stress causing weight gain

When you’re stressed, healthy things like eating right and exercising regularly can decline. Maintain good habits to combat stress-related weight gain. Here are some strategies that can help you:

Prioritize exercise: Exercise is an important part of stress reduction and weight management. It can help you solve both problems at the same time. Whether you go for a walk during your lunch break or exercise after work, add regular exercise to your schedule.

Exercise is a way to break the vicious cycle of stress causing weight gain

Eat healthier snacks: You don’t need carbohydrates or fats to make yourself feel better. A study examining the effectiveness of junk food in improving mood found that healthy foods, such as nuts, were just as likely to reduce negative mood as unhealthy foods. Stock up on these foods to make it easier for you to make healthier choices during times of high stress.

Practice mindful eating: Focusing on what you’re eating – without distractions – can help reduce stress, promote weight loss and prevent weight gain. One study found that overweight women who received mindfulness-based nutrition and stress training were better able to avoid emotional eating and had lower stress levels, leading to less belly fat over time. time. Therefore, please turn off your phone or TV when eating, friends!

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Write a food diary: Paying attention to your eating habits can help you control your food intake. Research shows that people who keep a food diary are more likely to manage their weight.

Drink more water: The body easily confuses thirst with hunger. Confusing these two cravings can cause you to eat more calories than your body needs, leading to weight gain. It’s much easier to identify hunger once you’ve eliminated dehydration. If you’ve only eaten for a few hours and you feel hungry, try drinking some water first. When you still feel hungry, have a snack.

Incorporate stress reduction plans into everyday life: Do you enjoy yoga or find solace in reading a good book? Try adding these habits or simple stress relievers like deep breathing, listening to music or going for a walk into your daily life. Doing so can lower cortisol levels, helping you manage weight.

Although no one can avoid stress, you can completely avoid the stress that causes weight gain. Hope this article has given you some useful tips to break the “maze” of stress and weight!

Reference source

How Stress Can Cause Weight Gain Access date: 3/1/2021

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