How Stress Can Cause Weight Gain?
Stress can significantly have an impact on your ability to maintain a healthy body weight. It can also stop you from shedding body weight. Whether it is the result of high levels of the stress hormone known as cortisol due to the unhealthy behaviors induced by stress or a combination of the two which is the link between stress and weight gain.
How Stress Can Cause Weight Gain?
Many research studies have been consumed which inform us that a rise in the level of cortisol, also known as stress hormone, can become a leading cause of weight gain. Every time you feel stressed, your adrenal glands release adrenaline and cortisol and because of which glucose that is the primary source of energy, is released abruptly into your bloodstream. All of this is done to provide you the energy so that you could escape from a risky situation. This is also known as the fight or flight response. Once your body realizes that the threat has been subsided, your high levels of adrenaline wear off and your blood sugar spike drops. This is when cortisol hormone makes an entry in high gear to replenish your energy supply quickly.
What Is the Relation Between Cortisol and Sugar Cravings?
As the sugar supplies your body with the quick energy it thinks it needs due to which it is the first thing you approach when you are feeling stressed. The negative impact of consuming a huge amount of sugar is that your body tends to store sugar, especially after stressful situations. This energy usually gets stored in the form of abdominal fat, which can be relatively hard to shed. And so, the vicious cycle begins of getting stressed, releasing cortisol, gaining weight, craving for more sugar, in taking more sugar and gaining more weight.
Is There A Relation Between Cortisol and Metabolism?
Even when you are not in taking foods which are high in fat and sugar, cortisol also slows down your metabolism, making it difficult to lose weight. In 2015, researchers from Ohio State University conducted a study by interviewing women about the stress they had experienced the previous day before feeding them a high-fat, high-calorie meal. After finishing the meal, scientists measured the metabolic rates of those women. They examined the rate at which they burned calories and fat and their blood sugar, cholesterol, insulin, and cortisol levels. Through this study, researchers found that those women who reported one or more stressors during the prior 24 hours burned 104 fewer calories than non-stressed women. This could result in an 11-pound increase in weight over one-year time. It was also found that stressed women have higher levels of insulin which is a hormone that contributes in storage of fat.
What Unhealthy Habits Are Induced by Stress?
In addition to causing changes in hormonal levels in human body, stress can also drive you to engage in numerous unhealthy behaviors, all of which can result in weight gain. The most common unhealthy habit is excessive eating. High levels of cortisol not only make you crave for unhealthy food, but excessive nervous energy can often cause you to eat more than you normally eat. You might find that snacking or reaching for a second helping provides you with some temporary relief from your stress but makes it more difficult to manage your healthy weight.
Another unhealthy habit is craving for fast food as it is easily accessible. Whenever we are suffering from stress, we tend to eat the first thing we see and what is easily available and accessible which is not always the healthiest options. You may also be more likely to drive through a fast-food place rather than taking some time and mental energy to cook a balanced, healthy meal for yourself. Exercising less is yet another main problem faced by us when we are stressing. With all the demands present on your schedule, exercising is the one of the last things on your to-do list. A long commute and hours spent sitting behind a desk can leave little opportunity for physical activity resulting in feeling lethargic and blotted. Sleeping less is also a main problem faced during stressful days. Many people report trouble sleeping when they are suffering from stress. And many researches have linked sleep deprivation to a slower metabolism. Feeling overtired and lethargic can also reduce willpower and contribute to unhealthy eating habits.
How To Break The Cycle Of Stress And Weight Gain?
When you are stressing out, healthy behaviors such as eating properly and exercising regularly can easily fall by the wayside. Maintaining a proper schedule and routine can help you in making these healthy behaviors a habit and combat weight changes related to stress. The first strategy is to make exercise a priority. Exercising is a critical component of reducing stress and managing weight. It can help you in addressing both issues simultaneously, so it is essential for warding off weight gain related to stress. Another method is to eat healthier comfort foods. You do not need carbs to make you feel better. One of the few studies have tested the effectiveness of comfort foods in improving mood and they found that eating healthier comfort foods is just as likely to boost a negative mood as unhealthy foods.
By paying attention to your eating habits can also help you in gaining control over your food consumption. So, whether you use an app to track your food consumption or write everything in a food journal, being more mindful of what you put in your mouth could improve your eating habits. Try drinking more water as many people confuse thirst for hunger. This confusion can lead you to eat more calories than your body needs, resulting in weight gain. If it has only been a couple of hours since you have eaten and you feel hungry, try consuming some water first. If you still feel hungry, then you should grab a snack.
If your stress and stress-related weight gain is still causing you distress, then it may be the time to seek professional help. Psychotherapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), can be very helpful in teaching coping skills to manage your stress and weight.