In this day and age, stress is our biggest enemy. There’s no great war or great depression; our great war is internal. This could be due to your hectic job schedule or some things in your personal life. According to a report by, Economic Times India 2018, about 89% of the population in India suffers from stress on a daily basis, compared to the world average of 86%.
Over the course of time, researchers have found that stress is associated with weight gain. Stress causes a lot of physical as well as psychological changes to our body. However, the effects are not always the same for everyone. Let’s look at how stress affects our body in different ways.
Does stress really cause weight gain?
Stress affects our psychological well-being as well as our physical stature. Stress causes weight gain or could even lead to weight loss, as everyone’s body has a different reaction to stress. If you’re under stress for longer periods of time, the physical effects could be even more severe and lasting.
All these changes occur due to the retention of cortisol in your body that comes with prolonged stress.
How does cortisol affect our body weight?
The hormone cortisol is one of the stress hormones. The main purpose of cortisol is to provide you with energy to get your body back to normal after a fight-or-flight response situation after a threatening situation. Cortisol may increase your hunger, as it stimulates the secretion of insulin, to maintain your blood sugar levels to normal. Weight gain could be the result of the cravings you get while cortisol slows your metabolism.
Stress eating, emotional eating, or binge eating could be one of the main reasons you're gaining weight due to stress. Stress eating may sound cool after watching all of the web series, but it is one of the worst things you can do.When you eat during stress, you tend to binge eat while sitting on your negative thoughts and dumping empty calories in your stomach and retaining unnecessary fat, leading to weight gain.
As mentioned earlier, stress is not just a weight gaining factor but could also be a reason for your body not wanting to eat. If a stressful situation is occurring in your life on a daily basis, it could affect your routine and you might notice yourself skipping meals. At first, this may sound like the right thing to do to lose weight. But this leads to a lowered metabolism, as well as lower blood sugar levels, and you might end up craving high-fat or high-sugar foods.
How can I avoid this?
There are a few ways that could help you avoid stress-related weight gain. The first thing to look at is stress management. The first step towards a stress-free, healthy lifestyle is self-help. A therapist or counsellor is helpful, but the change has to come within you. Here are a few ways that could help you start off your journey to avoid stress related weight gain –
- Workout - Exercising and working out are scientifically proven methods to reduce stress levels in your body. It not only helps you burn fat, but also helps in avoiding other health problems like cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, etc. So, go hit the gym or have a workout at home, make yourself active and away from stress.
- Track your nutrients - Under stress or even on normal days, you usually don’t know how much you’ve eaten. You might not notice it under stress, but it affects your weight. The best way to overcome this is, tracking your food intake. Track you macro and micro nutrient intake of the day and see how it takes you a step closer in your self-help journey for a healthy life.
- Avoid Emotional eating – Overeating under stress is a common thing. Try not to give in to your urges under stress. I know, this may sound difficult because when you’re stressed and eating is the only thing taking your mind off of the stress, but what you don’t realize is how it’s affecting your body. Try avoiding reaching for a snack everytime you’re stressed and think is it for your body or your emotions.
As a conclusion, the best thing that one can suggest to deal with stress is get social support. Spend time with your loved ones and don’t fall for overeating and hit the gym or exercise at home, whichever suits you best and keep your mind and body healthy.