If you’re like most people, when work or school or family stresses start piling up, it’s easy to turn to food for relief. But are you gaining weight because of the stress, or are you gaining weight from stress eating?
There may be a correlation between stress and weight gain. In this informative post, we’ll explore the connection between stress and weight gain.
Can Stress Cause Over-Eating?
A recent study by the University of Manchester found that cortisol (the hormone released during periods of high stress) seems to increase cravings for energy-dense foods like refined carbohydrates and sugars.
This is one of the reasons why people who are under stress often turn to “comfort” foods with a lot of sugar or fats. When you eat junk, your cortisol levels increase which makes you feel calmer but it also makes your body crave more junk food.
Losing weight and feeling healthier is about going from a stressed to a calm state. But to learn how to do that, you have to understand how stressful life becomes when we eat crappy food. That way, it’s easier for you to determine what behavior will lead you towards healthier weight loss habits and food choices that will fuel your body instead of feeding its destructive habits.
Also, stress for a longer period or that is poorly managed may lead to elevated cortisol levels. Cortisols stimulate your diet and appetite. So the result is that you gain weight or have difficulty losing unwanted pounds. Cortisol not only promotes weight gain, but it can also affect where you put on the weight.
What about without over-eating?
Studies find that cortisol-induced weight gain occurs only when you eat foods high in sugar and fat. Cortisol stimulates the hypothalamus, which controls appetite, so when your cortisol levels are elevated, it increases your appetite and boosts your metabolism in another part of your body. This means that it takes longer for you to burn calories from food that could be used for exercise.
In one study on rats, researchers found that the high-stress group experienced increased hunger and a decreased ability to burn calories during a 24-hour fast period compared to the control group under normal stress levels. In addition, they also gained more weight than the other group.
Another study from the University of Michigan found that stressors, like work pressure, lead people to consume more calories from sugar.
When you are under high levels of stress, simple things are more complicated. The simplest tasks may become a huge task and the event you were looking forward to becomes something you dread.
All this is because our bodies react to things differently when we are under high levels of stress. We put on weight due to increased appetite and an increase in blood sugar levels. It increases our bad cholesterol & LDL (bad cholesterol), it also decreases good cholesterol HDL (good cholesterol).
So even if you are not over-eating, you might end up gaining weight if you don’t manage your stress well. So, the first step towards weight loss or becoming healthier should be managing stress.
Also read: Effects of Stress on Students