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does stress cause weight gain?

Stress and Weight Gain

We all know that stress can have a negative impact on our health, but did you know that it can also lead to weight gain? Have you ever questioned whether stress has a detrimental effect on your weight-loss goals during adulthood? You’re about to discover the truth about the connection between stress and weight gain if this is the case.

Keep in mind that every individual is unique, therefore stress has a different impact on each person. However, this post will concentrate on the relationship between stress and weight gain.

Why Is Your Weight Fluctuating?

Many people experience stress-related weight gain, even if they don’t alter their diet in any way. That’s because stress can lead to hormonal changes. Your body is most likely storing more fat and burning fewer calories. Cortisol is a naturally-occurring hormone in your body, which is released in times of stress. It stimulates your fat and carbohydrate metabolism, creating a surge of energy in your body (aka ‘fight or flight mode’).

When your body is under a lot of stress, it releases adrenaline and cortisol. Although the former decreases your appetite, once it wears off, the latter takes control. The simplest way to explain the effects of cortisol is that it makes you crave unhealthy food. Additionally, it suppresses digestive processes, as well as inhibiting immune and reproductive systems. There are also clear ties between stress, anxiety, and depression, which may also influence your activity level, eating behavior, and sleep patterns.

Unhealthy Eating Habits

There are several reasons your weight may be fluctuating during a stressful time. For example, if you’re feeling stressed, chances are you’re not exactly focusing on developing healthy eating habits. Some people lose their appetite, whereas others tend to overeat as a way of self-soothing.

Namely, one of the most common side effects of stress is an increase in appetite, which inevitably leads to weight gain.

Emotional Eating

Let’s face it; sometimes, it’s just easier to reach for that third serving of ice-cream than it is to deal with something stressful. Unfortunately, most people tend to crave junk food in these situations, and we all know how unhealthy that is. And then comes the guilt, which spirals into more negative emotions, often culminating in more comfort eating. 

Still, as mentioned, cortisol, the ‘stress hormone’, plays a large part in weight gain. When you’re feeling stressed out by life, food can seem like a temporary solution to your problems, when, in fact, it’s just causing more of them. Breaking the cycle isn’t easy though.

No Exercise

Let’s face it, when you’re stressed, exercise is probably the last thing on your mind. Unfortunately, if you’re eating more and burning less, you’re bound to put on weight. Exercise doesn’t have to mean swimming miles in a pool or running for hours on a treadmill, however. Simply being moderately active, avoiding a sedentary lifestyle, and doing something to elevate your heart rate on a daily basis is the best place to start. A daily walk with a partner, friend, or pet can be a fantastic way to take a step in the direction of better health.

Bad Sleep Routines

If you’re stressed, you’re probably not sleeping very well. Everyone knows that in order to keep your metabolism in check, you need to develop good sleeping habits. Not only that, but most people tend to raid their refrigerators during those bouts of insomnia. All in all, it’s a recipe for disaster. Over 35% of Americans report that they have ‘poor’ or ‘fair’ sleep quality. More importantly, 67% of this group rates their overall health as either ‘poor’ or ‘fair’. Sleep deprivation can have a negative affect upon your general mood, productivity, and your immune system. 

How to Deal with Stress and Weight Gain

Here’s the part you’ve been waiting for: how to deal with stress and weight gain properly. And yes, it is possible.

Pay attention to what you eat. There is a big chance you’re unaware of the fact that you’re overeating. The best way to keep track of your eating habits is to keep a food diary. Write down everything you eat during the day, as well as at what time. Avoiding a carb-heavy diet is a good start, which is why we strive to carry only the very best low carb products for our customer’s convenience and well-being.

Try some activities that can help relieve stress. Everyone has an activity they enjoy doing, whether it’s reading a book, praying or meditating, playing or listening to music, drawing, etc. No matter how overwhelming your schedule may be, try to find some time for yourself. Doing so will help manage your cortisol level and boost your weight loss. Remember, there are a lot of benefits to losing weight, which should keep you motivated to exercise.

Exercise. Understandably, you may not have a lot of time to exercise during the day. However, there are certain things you can do, even when you’re at work. For example, instead of using an elevator, take the stairs. Take a long walk during your lunch break. Ride a bike to work instead of driving (if possible).

Talk with a physician. Low Carb Cabana is owned by Elyssa Blissenbach, MD, board-certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and the American Board of Obesity Medicine. Dr. Blissenbach is available for a virtual consultation. If you think you might be a good candidate for her personalized program, you can learn more here.

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