Can stress cause weight gain? Recent studies suggest that it can. In today’s fast-paced world, stress seems to be much more prevalent. And although it is known to decrease stress, exercise commonly gets knocked down on the list of priorities when stress levels are high. If taking out exercise isn’t hindering enough for weight loss, the body also goes through hormonal changes during high-stress times that can potentially cause you to gain weight.
Under stressful events, the body’s adrenal responses take over. This is called the “fight or flight” response. This stress response can cause the body to gain weight in more way than one.
Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone” because it is released while you’re experiencing stress. High levels of this hormone can decrease muscle mass and ultimately lead to a slower metabolism (because muscle mass increases your metabolism). In addition to that, excessive cortisol release can result in the storage of abdominal fat because it can be quickly utilized for energy there. And what about those food cravings you get when you’re stressed? That can be linked to high cortisol levels as well. The release of cortisol can result in an increase of appetite, which can lead to unwanted weight gain.
Exercise is one of the simplest ways to decrease your cortisol levels. Although cortisol temporarily spikes during exercise, it is quickly brought back down to normal levels once you are done exercising. Exercise performed on a regular basis has been shown to decrease the usual amount of cortisol in your bloodstream, leading to decreased symptoms of stress.
Do you feel like you are doing everything you can to lose weight but aren’t seeing results? Evaluate your stress levels and see what techniques/life changes can help bring you to a calmer state.
Written by Talyer M