Can Stress Cause Me to Gain Weight?

How much you eat may not be the only reason you’re gaining weight

ave women had it easy. Except for the occasional attack by a saber-tooth tiger, the only stress in their lives was foraging enough food to feed their families and keeping the dirt floor clean.

How did we get so stressed?

Fast forward to modern times, we’re deluged with stressors that begin the moment we wake: checking our email, getting the kids out the door in time for school, checking Facebook, struggling with deadlines at work, checking Twitter and having dinner ready for the last-minute guests your husband has decided to bring home.

While stress may have saved your life as a cave dweller, these days it can lead to serious, chronic health issues, including metabolic syndrome[1]: a life-threatening combination of diseases that includes high blood pressure, obesity, abnormal blood lipids and insulin resistance leading to diabetes. In can also be the reason why you’re not losing weight.

Can stress affect our ability to lose (or gain) weight?

Taken in context, stress can help you succeed in overcoming life’s temporary obstacles. Taken out of context, it can undermine your health and all of the great progress you’ve made in managing your weight.

During acute bouts of stress, cortisol levels skyrocket, increasing insulin, causing glucose levels to plummet. The natural response is to counter them by emotionally eating high carbohydrate foods — often called comfort foods. It’s one reason why when stressed out, you reach for the Haagen Daz instead of an apple. Chronic levels of stress have been shown to increase abdominal fat[2] — the type of fat that increases your risk for heart disease and stroke. Fortunately, there is good news.

The solutions are all around you

One of the easiest ways to take back control of your life is by following the American Psychological Association’s Five Tips to Help Manage Stress:[3]

  • Smile more and learn how to laugh. Will Rogers once said, “Everything is funny, as long as it’s happening to someone else.” When threats to your serenity pop up, try to find the humor in life. It’s all around you.
  • Go out for a walk. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America[4], taking a 10-minute walk can be just as good as a 45-minute workout when it comes to elevating depressed moods.
  • Take a mental break. You don’t have to solve all of the world’s problems. At least, not now. It’s OK to step away from the situation that’s causing you stress. When you look at things again, you’ll have a different perspective.
  • Seek social support. Just the simple act of reaching out to someone you love or respect will help put the problem into perspective. They may even have the solution you’ve been searching for.
  • Learn how to meditate. Often called mindfulness, learning how to close your eyes and meditate will help you learn how to release the problems that threaten your serenity.

If you’re challenged by stressors that complicate your life and are worried that they’ll negatively impact your weight loss, relax. You don’t have to go it alone. Your nearest weight loss consultants are here to help. Their award-winning menus and advice will help you get back on track and suggest tactics to avoid letting stress sabotage all the progress you’ve made. Give them a call.

[1] Chronic stress, metabolism, and metabolic syndrome: Stress. 2011 Sep;14(5):468–74.

[2] Stress-induced cortisol response and fat distribution in women. Obes Res. 1994 May;2(3):255–62.

[3] Five Tips to Help Manage Stress http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/manage-stress.aspx

[4] Exercise for Stress and Anxiety: https://adaa.org/living-with-anxiety/managing-anxiety/exercise-stress-and-anxiety

Allen Smith is an award-winning writer living in Oceanside, California and has published thousands of articles for print, the web and social media.

Allen Smith is an award-winning writer living in Oceanside, California and has published thousands of articles for print, the web and social media.