4 Ways Stress Causes Weight Gain And How To Stop It

Many people believe that if you take in too many calories and don't burn off enough through exercise, and you'll gain weight . Its not that simple. Some experts are convinced that stress is another factor. Stress plays a role in the growing problem of expanding waistlines.

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In an article published in Medical Hypotheses, two sports scientists discuss this issue. They point out that stress makes people more susceptible to weight gain, and when they try to lose weight by dieting it creates even more stress. This leads to a vicious cycle of stress and weight gain. Even prolonged exercise places the body under stress, which is why some fitness pros discourage clients from doing long aerobic workouts.

But exactly how does stress cause weight gain? Here are four ways that stress makes it harder to she'd unwanted pounds of body fat.

Stress Causes Hormonal Changes

When you're stressed, your adrenal glands releases stress hormones like adrenalin, norepinephrine and cortisol. Adrenalin and norepinephrine are released transiently in response to acute stress, and levels usually fall over time, but cortisol levels can become persistently elevated when stress is prolonged. Cortisol has a number of undesirable effects on body composition. It stimulates the breakdown of muscle protein as a fuel source to keep blood sugar levels up. If you're like most people, you don't want your muscles cannibalized by cortisol.

Another way cortisol causes problems is by shifting around fat so that more is stored in the deeper regions of your abdomen. Thats not a good thing when it comes to your waistline. It also causes immature fat cells to grow into mature ones. Cortisol is a good hormone to have around if you're physically in danger since it mobilizes energy stores to help you escape a threatening situation. Its not so good when levels stay high.

Stress Can Affect Your Metabolism

If you're chronically stressed out, it can slow down your metabolism. Again, the bad guy here is cortisol. Cortisol affects metabolism by it's effects on thyroid hormone. Your thyroid is the primary organ that determines your metabolism. Under normal circumstances, a thyroid hormone precursor called T4 is converted to an active form called T3. When there's too much cortisol around, it blocks conversion of T4 to T3. Instead, T4 is converted to reverse T3. This slows down your metabolism.

Stress Increases Cravings

When stress rears it's ugly head, some people seek solace by nibbling on a bag of potato chips or other high carbohydrate foods. Cortisol plays a role here too by increasing cravings for high carbohydrate foods. When you eat these foods, insulin levels rise, and your body goes into fat storage mode. Eating foods high in carbohydrates creates the desire to eat more high carbohydrate foods, setting up a cycle of overeating and weight gain. Youve heard of stress or emotional eating, haven't you? Thats when you eat not because you're hungry but because you feel anxious or depressed. Unfortunately, food doesn't solve the problem - it just leads to weight gain.

Stress Can Cause Us to Abandon Good Eating and Exercise Habits

When you're stressed out, you're less likely to stick with healthy lifestyle habits like eating the right foods and working out. You start grabbing fast food out of convenience and skipping your workouts. Combine that with stress eating, and it's easy to see why stress can add inches to your waistline.

Break the Stress Cycle

Chronic stress is an under-appreciated cause of weight gain. Here are some tips for stopping the stress-eating cycle:

Learn simple relaxation techniques like deep breathing and meditation to call upon when you're feeling stressed. This helps to reduce cortisol levels and gives you a way to relax without reaching for a cookie.

Aim for seven to seven-and-a-half hours of sleep a night. Lack of sleep increases cortisol levels and cravings for high carbohydrate foods.

Exercise, but don't over-train. If you're doing more than an hour of aerobic exercise a day, you're doing too much. Cut your aerobic workout time in half by doing interval training and spend more time strength training. Give yourself at least one day off a week from exercise to avoid burnout.

Clear your cabinets and refrigerator of high-carb snacks you can easily reach for when you're under stress. Replace them with healthier choices that are high in protein and fiber. Plan your meals weekly, and prepare food ahead of time so that no matter what the week brings, you don't have to resort to eating convenience food.

Stress - The Bottom Line

Get your stress level and the stress hormone cortisol under control, and you'll have an easier time shedding extra pounds of body fat. Don't underestimate the role that stress plays in weight control.

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Posted in Other Health and Medical Post Date 06/10/2022


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