Why stress can cause weight gain

Nowadays, stress is becoming even more present in the society:  social networks, long working days, pressure at work, lack of physical activity are the main causes.  Indeed, stress is the cause of many health problems: depression, anxiety, asthma, heart diseases, diabetes, etc. But stress has also an impact on our hormone levels and weight gain.

Any source of stress, from physical to emotional will produce cortisol (the stress hormone) in your body. This hormone is necessary for our survival because it allows us to take a quick decision in order to get out of danger (alertness).

However, when we are under constant stress, our body produces too much cortisol which has an impact on our metabolism and emotional feelings, causing anxiety, insomnia, fertility problems, and weight gain.

Let’s see how stress can have a bad impact on your quality of life and can cause weight gain.

🔸Stress contributes to sleep disorders

Like we said before, Cortisol is the hormone responsible for the alertness so that it will keep you awake and make you pay more attention to your environment. If the cortisone levels are elevated throughout the day, it can generate difficulties to fall and stay asleep. The lack of sleep will affect the levels of hunger hormones, causing appetite and reducing the feeling of fullness which contributes to weight gain.

🔸Stress increases cravings

The cortisol affects your mood, sleep, and digestion so that it will directly contribute to sugar and carbohydrate cravings when you are feeling down or stressed. According to some researches, people with high cortisol levels are consuming more calories during the days with high stress.

Why? The stress decreases the levels of “happy hormones” so that we are looking for rewarding eating experiences which used to be high-calorie foods.

🔸Stress can affect your digestive system

Stress is one of the leading cause of digestive disorders such as diarrhea, constipation, acid reflux, gas and intolerances. This is due to the fact that stress increases inflammations.

This is why you should eat a variety of high-fiber whole foods during stressful periods.

🔸Stress burns your energy and makes it difficult to stay active

Even if a healthy diet is important to lose some weight, doing some physical activity is essential. Stress increases inflammation and can weaken the immune system which can cause a lack of energy,  frequent illness, and soreness in your muscles.

🔸Stress can affect your mood

All the previous points above have an impact on brain activity and mood stabilization.

When we are stressed, we are more likely to follow old habits. Stress can block you at the start of a new project like exercising or improving the quality of life (you will be less motivated).