How does stress affect weight gain?

First of all, what is stress? Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand. There are many types of stress from physical to emotional.

Survival Stress – also known as your “fight or flight” response. This is when you are afraid that something might physically hurt you. Your body’s naturally responds with a burst of energy so that you will better survive the situation.

Internal Stress – can be categorized as self-inflicted stress. This is when people worry about thing that they can not control, things that may or may not happen.

Environmental Stress – is caused by noise, crowding and pressure from work or family.

Fatigue and Overwork – this kind of stress builds up over long period of time. It can be caused by working too much or too hard at your job, school, or home. It can also be caused by not knowing how to manage your time or to take time out for yourself.

Part 2 and even more important – how does stress affect your weight? Well there are several ways. One has to do with cortisol, also called the stress hormone. Chronic stress and cortisol can contribute to your weight gain:

  • Metabolism: Too much cortisol can slow down your metabolism, causing more weight gain than you would normally experience. This also makes dieting more difficult.
  • Cravings: People experiencing chronic stress tend to crave more salty, high fat and sugary foods. 
  • Blood Sugar: Prolonged stress can alter your blood sugar levels, causing mood swings, fatigue, and conditions like hyperglycemia. 
  • Fat Storage: Excessive stress even affects where we tend to store fat. Higher level of stress is linked to greater levels of abdominal fat.Stress and weight gain are also connected in other ways:


  • Emotional Eating: Increased level of cortisol can not only makes you crave unhealthy food, but excess nervous energy can often cause you to eat more than you normally would.
  • Fast Food: Experts believe that a big reason for the obesity in this country is that people are too stressed out and busy to cook healthy dinners at home so they opt for fast food. 
  • Too busy to exercise: With all the demands on your schedule, exercise may be the last thing on your list. However, it is one of the top stress relievers.


So what are some of the things we can do to reduce stress? Here are a few relieve your stress quick lists.

Relax Now List – Visualize yourself in a tranquil place, Gain control of your breathing, Repeat a helped quote or worked, Get away from the noise, Use your imagination, Use good sense, Laugh, Cry.

A list of relaxing Thoughts – See problems as opportunities, There is not right answer, It’s not a perfect world, Let go and let god, This too shall pass, Refute negative thoughts, Stop over generalizing, Control yourself, not others, Be yourself.

De-stress List – Exercise, Meditate, Use guided imagery tape, Take an aromatherapy bath, Take a nap, Get a massage, Practice Yoga or Tai chi, Listen to soothing music, Take time out for a short walk or vacation, Stop being the receptacle for the world’s problems.

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