Scientific Ways Stress And Weight Are Connected

Do you experience constant stress? If so, it can be having an impact on your weight. Chronic, ongoing stress is closely associated with weight growth. Our adrenal systems release cortisol, a stress hormone that controls a number of biological functions when we are exposed to stressful events.

 In addition to numerous other bodily processes, cortisol affects the metabolism of macronutrients, blood pressure, and the central nervous system. Leptin and ghrelin, two hunger hormones that have a significant impact on appetite and weight, are produced by our bodies in response to cortisol in our bodies.

Cortisol And Stress

Our energy, metabolism, and blood flow are all focused on sustaining our survival instinct when our bodies release cortisol. When stressful situations required escaping from bears or dealing with other crises that put human existence in danger, this "fight or flight" response was essential. Many of the stressful conditions we encounter now don't call for this kind of survival reaction.

While the body needs to secrete cortisol to cope with stress, it's crucial that cortisol levels return to normal after stressful events. Otherwise, persistent stress that doesn't go away can result in hormone imbalances that affect our levels of leptin, and blood sugar. Over time, this chemical reaction may cause weight gain and obesity.

Cortisol's Role In Weight Gain

Chronic stress from daily life might increase your cortisol levels to an unhealthy level and cause you to overeat. Cortisol may also prompt you to eat even when you are not necessarily hungry or don't require more food by telling your brain that it is time to replenish your nutrition.

Chronic stress over time can slow the metabolism and change how the body stores fat. This adrenal imbalance brought on by stress is associated with visceral belly fat. Because it can elevate insulin and cholesterol levels and increase the risk of heart disease, this form of belly fat is harmful.

How Stress Makes You Eat More Food

Weight gain can be brought on by long-term stress in a variety of ways and for a variety of causes. First, the hormonal imbalances brought on by elevated cortisol levels might cause changes in hunger hormones and blood sugar levels.

Blood sugar levels that are too high can lead to insulin resistance, a key risk factor for weight gain and type 2 diabetes. Leptin imbalances can prevent the brain from receiving signals indicating you are satisfied, which can result in overeating. Ghrelin imbalances can make you feel stuffed, raise your chance of binge eating later, and bring on desires for junk food and sweets.

Stress can also cause emotional eating, causing you to go for foods like comfort food that you ordinarily wouldn't eat when you're feeling better. In moderation, treating yourself to pizza, fried chicken, donuts, and other treats may be acceptable every now and then, but persistent stress can lead to an excess of these indulgences, which can result in weight gain.


Can Anxiety And Stress Lead To Weight Gain?

The phrases "stress" and "anxiety" are sometimes used interchangeably. However, anxiety is the body's normal response to stress, whereas stress is a response to threatening events.

The definition of anxiety is excessive worry or fear about upcoming events. Persistent anxiety has a similar physical impact on your body to chronic stress.Those who undergo persistent stress and anxiety may exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Nervousness
  • Restlessness
  • Being Sleep Deprived
  • Headaches
  • Quick Heartbeat
  • Stress In The Muscles
  • Rapid Breathing
  • Irritability Irrational Rage

Similar to stress, anxiety feelings can disrupt the body's normal hormonal balance, resulting in swings that ultimately lead to weight gain. Another important element that can contribute to weight gain is sleep deprivation because when you don't get enough sleep, your body produces less melatonin. People who don't get enough sleep typically have a slower metabolism and are more likely to put on weight. This is because melatonin drives metabolism, weight reduction, and muscular growth.

How To Control Weight Gain And Stress

We must find ways to reduce our levels of stress because stress is an unavoidable component of our daily lives. Here is a collection of advice that can help you control your weight gain and tension:

  • Keep moving by engaging in activities you enjoy.
  • Exercise your deep breathing.
  • Ensure that you receive enough sleep.
  • Find something to laugh about.
  • Knowing your stress triggers will help you avoid them.
  • More time with animals
  • Take nutritional supplements to reduce stress
  • Avoid foods that cause stress, such as sugar, alcohol, and processed carbohydrates

Stress can promote the production of hormones that can contribute to weight gain, and it frequently results in actions that do the same, making it more difficult to lose or maintain weight. Self-care and stress-reduction practices must be continued if you want to maintain good physical and mental health. By keeping these tactics in mind, you can prevent the stress and cortisol reaction from even starting.

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  1. Kiecolt-Glaser J, et al. (2015). Daily stressors, past depression, and metabolic responses to high-fat meals: A novel path to obesity. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2014.05.018
  2. Obesity prevention source. (n.d.). 
  3. Seltzer C. (2019). Personal interview.
  4. Winerman L. (2017). By the numbers: Our stressed-out nation.

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