Do you know that stress can make you gain weight and fat? Stress can significantly impact your ability to maintain a healthy weight. Even if you're trying to lose fat and weight, you may not be able to do so if you are under stress. There is a strong link between stress and fat storage and weight gain. It can be a result of a combination of high levels of stress hormone cortisol, and unhealthy stress induced behaviour.
Stress and cortisol
When the stress hormone cortisol increases in your body, it results in fat and weight gain. If you're stressed, your adrenal glands release adrenaline and cortisol. When that happens, glucose, which is the primary source of energy, is released into your bloodstream. Glucose is necessary for you to get more energy so that you can fight or escape from a risky situation. When the risky situation is over, your adrenaline goes down and your blood sugar increase also drops. Then cortisol starts working at high speed to replenish the energy supply quickly.
Cortisol and sugar cravings
Cortisol can increase sugar cravings. Sugar is necessary for your body because it provides quick energy. If you're stressed, it is likely that you are going to reach for something with sugar. But if you are consuming too much sugar, your body will start storing that sugar. This specially happens after stressful situations. Sugar is stored in the form of abdominal fat. This abdominal fat is very hard to shed. This all works like a vicious cycle. When you get stressed, your body releases cortisol, as a result of that you consume more sugar, the sugar is stored as fat and weight, you gain weight, you crave more sugar, you'll eat more sugar, and you gain more weight.
This is a cycle that will keep happening.
Cortisol and metabolism
Cortisol can still make you fat and increase your weight even when you are not consuming foods high in fat and sugar. Cortisol can slow down your metabolism and if it is slow, your body will not be able to burn more calories and it will become difficult for you to lose weight. Scientific research done on this subject on women about the stress found that women who underwent one or more stressors during the prior 24 hours, burned 104 fewer calories than non-stressed women. This could simply a result in an 11 pound weight gain in just one year.
Stress induced unhealthy habits
Besides the hormonal changes done by stress, it can also result in some unhealthy behaviours and all of those behaviours can result in fat and weight gain.
Emotional eating-when you have high levels of cortisol in your body, you will have excess nervous energy and that can make you to eat more than you normally do.
Eating more fast food-when you're stressed, you're more likely to go for fast food instead of healthy foods or instead of cooking a healthy meal for yourself.
Exercising less- if you're stressed, it is less likely that you will exercise. If you have a very demanding schedule, exercising may be one of the last things on your to do list.
Skipping meals-if you're stressed, you're more likely to skip meals or at least keep a healthy meal and eat whatever you can get your hands on.