How Stress Can Affect Weight?
You have likely seen in one of those Rom-Com movies where, after a breakup, the person slides in comfy clothes and devour on ice creams and other unhealthy foods.
Or, maybe you’ve been in a similar situation yourself.
This happens because when we’re stressed (which, at times, translates into anxiety and even depression) increases our cortisol levels. This leads to a chain of chemical reactions in our body that eventually elevates our appetite.
Now, when we’re hungry, we eat more. And when we eat more, we gain more weight.
This is how stress and weight are linked.
This is why when you would approach a certified health coach, one of the first tips that you usually get is “don’t take stress”.
How Our Body Reacts When Stressed?
When we encounter stressful situations, our body releases cortisol, which is commonly known as a ‘stress hormone’.
In addition, at such times, what many people often fail to consider is that our body also triggers the “fight or flight” response, perceiving a possible threat. This leaks two other hormones in our body called epinephrine and norepinephrine.
While the epinephrine and norepinephrine levels go back to normal when the stressful situation is gone, the cortisol level remains way above the threshold. How long will it stay elevated depends on various factors- including whether you suffer from acute or chronic stress symptoms.
The Role of Cortisol in Our Body
Cortisol, in itself, isn’t bad. It has several benefits.
When our body secretes cortisol, it helps us feel energized by quickly stimulating fat and carb metabolism.
It also stimulates insulin to maintain blood sugar, which may dip during stressful situations.
These reactions eventually increase our appetite.
To fix that appetite, we eat more. This surges our weight, unless countered by intense workout that balances the added calories.
Notably, weight gained due to high cortisol level, instead of adding to the hips, gets disposed in the abdominal region. Since belly fat is quite critical to health, resulting in high glucose levels and cardiovascular diseases, it is often referred to as toxic fat.
Not Same for Everyone
All said, not everyone has the same kind of chemical reactions in their body. Meaning, different people react differently to stress.
The amount of cortisol level secreted due to a stressful even varies.
How long the cortisol level remains elevated is also different between individuals.
To that, a range of diverse factors come into play like their existing health condition, lifestyle, eating habits and genetics.
So, while one person can gain instant weight out of stress, it might not necessarily be the same for another.
But the bottom line is still quite simple: stress and weight are interlinked. In order to maintain a healthy weight, it’s essential that you control stress adequately.
Ace Stress Management
There are many proven ways to tame stress.
Working out is one of the foremost of them. When you workout or are involved in any physically strenuous activities, your body releases endorphins. Endorphins are a natural stress buster that can mellow down your cortisol level.
Meditation and yoga have well-document benefits. They can help you lower your stress.
Eating right food is one of the most recommended stress management tips. There are several food items that effectively reduce stress hormones. It includes spinach, oatmeal, dark chocolate, green tea, avocado, Swiss chard, fatty fish and carrot.
Get Help from Professionals
In short, in order to maintain your weight in an ideal range, you must put a tab on your stress levels.
Controlling stress demands positive lifestyle changes. What you eat, how much you eat, how much you move every day and more – all these must be checked and improved.
Of course, DIY’ing here isn’t the right option.
Get help from a qualified professional. Approach a certified health coach and take confident strides ahead to manage your stress and improve your health the right way.