Besides many other factors, stress can be a major factor in weight gain. Stress can significantly impact your ability to maintain a healthy weight. It cannot only put on more weight in different parts of your body, it can also prevent you from losing weight. There is a strong link between stress and weight gain.
The link between stress and cortisol
Stress and cortisol has a direct link. When stress hormone cortisol levels go up in your body, it can lead to weight gain. When you are stressed, your adrenal glands release adrenaline and cortisol and because of that the primary source of energy for you glucose is released into your bloodstream. This happens so that you can get the energy necessary to escape from a risky situation and this is known as fight or flight response. When the threat is over, your adrenaline levels will go down and your blood sugar spike also drops. At this point cortisol kicks into high gear to replenish your energy supply quickly.
The connection of cortisol and sugar cravings
Sugar can supply your body with quick energy and that is why it is a first thing you reach for when you are stressed. But if you consume too much sugar, your body will start storing sugar in different parts. This happens especially after stressful situations. The energy is stored mainly in the form of abdominal fat. This fat is the hardest to shed.
This works as a cycle-you get stressed, cortisol is released, you gain weight, you crave more sugar, you eat more sugar, you gain more weight.
The connection of cortisol and metabolism
There is a connection of cortisol and your metabolism. Cortisol can slow down your metabolism and if that happens, it'll be difficult to lose the extra weight and fat you have in your body. And this can happen even when you're not eating foods high in fat and sugar. A scientific study found that on average women who went through one or more stress situations during the previous 24-hours could burn 104 fewer calories than women who did not have any stress.
In one year, this alone can result in an 11 pound weight gain. The study also found that women who are stressed also had higher insulin levels in their bodies. Insulin is a hormone that contributes to fat storage. So, people under stress can gain more weight through different ways.
Unhealthy habits and stress relationship
Besides adding more weight by influencing the hormone released in your body, stress can also induced unhealthy habits.
When your body has a higher level of cortisol, it can make you crave unhealthy food. When you have more nervous energy because of stress, you're likely to eat more than you normally do. If you do any or both of these, how can you expect to lose weight or maintain your healthy weight?
Eating fast food
When you are under stress, you are likely to eat fast food or any food that is easily accessible to you. You are going to eat the first thing that you see, and that may not be a healthy choice for you.
Less sleep and no exercise
When you're stressed, it'll be difficult for you to sleep properly and for the necessary length of time. It'll be difficult for you to have sound and deep sleep. At the same time, when you are under stress, it is more likely that you will eliminate exercise from your to do list.