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Stress and Weight Gain

Updated: Mar 28

Is stress crushing your weight loss goals? Let's discuss the relationship between stress and weight gain.

weight gain and stress

During times of stress, our body will produce a hormone called cortisol, that puts us in fight or flight mode to help us deal with the stressful situation. Once the stressful situation is over, the cortisol goes back down to normal levels. BUT, if we are chronically stressed, our cortisol levels will stay elevated.

Why is prolonged high cortisol bad? Cortisol can impact our appetite. The more cortisol, the hungrier we are. So, if you are always stressed, you will most likely always be hungry, eating more calories then we need, hence causing weight gain. Cortisol acts as an appetite stimulant. Ever go for comfort food when you are stressed?

To note, the excess calories we consume when stressed are preferentially deposited in our mid sections, making it hard to get rid of that stubborn belly fat. Also, when we are stressed, our metabolism can slow down, making it even harder to lose weight and easier to gain weight! This is why it is critical to find ways to manage our stressors in life.

Healthy ways to deal with stress to prevent weight gain:

  • exercise daily for at least 30 minutes

  • spend time outdoors, like walking around a local park

  • consume a healthy diet, including plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables

  • seek social support, like from a friend or family member

  • practice mediation or deep breathing

  • listen to music

  • read a book

  • get 8-10 hours of sleep each night

  • practice positive self talk

  • play with an animal

  • limit caffeine

If you have tried most of these techniques to deal with stress and do not find relief, please speak with a trusted healthcare professional. You may find solace in anti-depressant medication. Set up an appointment and ask your doctor or nurse practitioner to see if medication is right for you.


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