Stress can harm your health, impacting your ability to maintain a healthy body weight. If you are trying to lose weight, it can prevent you from doing so. Whether it is due to higher levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), unhealthy stress-related behavior, or a combination of these two, there is a distinct link between weight gain and stress.
Cortisol and the Stress Link
Research has proved that higher cortisol levels in the body can result in weight gain. When you feel stressed, your adrenal glands automatically release cortisol and adrenaline. In turn, this effect releases glucose into your bloodstream. The body does this to give you the energy required to escape from risky situations.
This reaction is also referred to as the fight or flight response. Once the threat subsides, the adrenaline levels are reduced, and the spike in your blood sugar will drop. At this point, cortisol quickly kicks in to replenish your body's energy supply.
How Does Cortisol Result In Weight Gain?
Because sugar gives your body a quick energy fix that it thinks it requires, it's often one of the first things that you reach for whenever you are stressed. The disadvantage to consuming large amounts of sugar is that your body stores it, especially when stressed. The energy mainly gets stored as abdominal fat, which can be incredibly difficult to get rid of.
This results in a vicious cycle-whenever you are stressed, your body releases cortisol, you gain weight, and you crave more sugar. When you consume large amounts of sugar, you can gain more weight.
Metabolism and Cortisol
Even when you don't consume high fat and sugar content foods, cortisol decelerates your metabolism, and your body weight stagnates.
Unhealthy Habits that are a Fallout of Stress
Apart from the hormonal changes that stress can cause, it can also drive you to engage in various unhealthy behaviors, which result in weight gain. Some of these behaviors include:
Make health a priority and manage your time better, so you aren't stressed with running around trying to wrap up everything on your to-do list. Incorporate stress-relief activities into your daily schedule. Reading a book, unwinding at the end of a busy day or week, practicing yoga, or even going out for a walk can help reduce stress and the cortisol levels in your body.
Focus on these things today, and slowly you find that it becomes easier to maintain a healthy weight. As mentioned earlier, cortisol, stress, and weight gain are all part of a vicious circle. When you break one of the links, you will be able to step out of that circle and get your health back on track.
You will also be less inclined to reach for unhealthy foods and will see your energy levels increasing. Stress can lead to long-term health issues, and addressing it sooner than later is crucial.
For tips on shifting to a healthier lifestyle, feel free to contact Michele Johnson MD, through this online form. my team and i are happy to answer questions about our program.
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