CAN STRESS CAUSE WEIGHT GAIN?

Stress has long been suspected to be interrelated to abdominal obesity.

However, inter-individual differences in this complex relationship exist and affect people differently. For example, the individual variation in glucocorticoid sensitivity may lead to higher vulnerability to mental or physical stress.

Stress plays a role in the development of obesity in individuals who have increased glucocorticoid exposure or sensitivity. How? Excess stress may lead to an increase in weight. It might be a result of overeating and making unhealthy food choices, due to your body’s response to increased levels of cortisol.

How does stress affect your body?

Stress can have an impact on your health, so it is important to know the symptoms. How? A constant influx of cortisol and stress lead to fatigue, low-energy, weight gain. Other symptoms like, tight muscles and headaches to feeling agitated, overwhelmed, take a toll on your physical, mental, and emotional health. Your body responds to stress by making you prone to weight gain.  

Moreover, stress leads to an increase in the levels of Cortisol, which is a stress hormone released by the adrenal glands that increase in response to a threat. Body retaliates to fight stress, resulting in the use of more energy, and your body needs to replenish back with food supply. Therefore, whenever cortisol levels rise, you start to feel fatigued and hungry.

Firstly, many people respond to stress by eating comfort food, also bodies metabolise slowly under stress. Secondly, it has also been shown as per studies that stressed women have higher levels of insulin.

Cortisol, glucose and insulin work in harmony to maintain your sugar levels. Cortisol impacts the way your body metabolises glucose, how much energy your muscles burn. As per research under stressful conditions, insulin and cortisol levels remain high and more of the fat gets stored in the abdominal fat cells.

What are the risks of stress and weight gain?

When stress peaks or it becomes difficult to manage, more chronic or long-term health-related consequences can occur.

The risks associated with weight gain include:

  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes Type 2 
  • Heart Stroke
  • Reproductive Problems
  • A decrease in lung and respiratory function
  • An increase in joint pain
  • Low Immunity 

Although it is imperative not to have stress, if you want to prevent stress-related weight gain, then you have to take certain measures which can help reduce stress symptoms and make you feel better.

It may include looking after your diet, eating wholesome and nutritious foods, exercising to reduce your stress and release of dopamine, and meditation that helps you relax. 

To conclude, your mental welling can influence your physical wellbeing, including weight status. Therefore having low-stress levels is vital for overall health and reducing weight.

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