How Does Stress Lead to Weight Gain? – Treatments and Remedies

Updated on & Medically Reviewed by Dr Lalitha
How Does Stress Lead to Weight Gain? – Treatments and Remedies

Stress is an uncomfortable feeling of tension/discomfort that occurs with an event/situation or a thought, disturbing the physical and mental wellbeing of a person. Chronic or long-term continuous stress is one that we shall be discussing.

What Happens When the Body is Subjected to Continuous Stress?

There is the release of Cortisol – the stress hormone, whenever the body and mind are subjected to some form of stress regularly and continuously. This stress hormone i.e. Cortisol is normally required by the body in normal quantity as it is responsible for a lot of metabolic functions.

BUT, when it is secreted in excess as a response to stress, it causes many detrimental effects in the body like high Blood pressure, weight gain and water retention, abnormal blood glucose levels, excess fat storage, etc. and increases the risk of heart problems, stroke, diabetes etc.

How Stress Causes Weight Gain?

  • The stress hormone, Cortisol leads to weight gain in both men and women, when in excess.
  • Cortisol and adrenaline are produced by the adrenal gland (small triangular glands situated above the kidneys), which are released into the bloodstream of the body when stress is experienced. Both these hormones are usually produced when faced with a stressful situation, to provide energy that helps a person to either fight it out or run away from the stressful situation. Adrenalin is produced predominantly in acute/short-term situations while cortisol is produced in long-term continuous stressful situations.
  • To put it simply – Constant stress increases the levels of cortisol in the body which stimulates the pancreas to release insulin hormone in the body.
  • Increased insulin levels cause fat storage and a drop in blood sugar levels that make you crave sugary, carbohydrate-rich foods and increase your appetite.
  • So when you are under constant stress, there is an increase in the number of fat cells in the body which get deposited as extra fat resulting in weight gain. Overeating due to an increase in appetite also accumulates extra energy in the body leading to weight gain.
  • Excess Cortisol also causes Insulin resistance which leads to a vicious cycle ending in abnormal weight gain and abnormal blood sugar levels.
  • Stress can also cause mood changes like depression and anxiety, which may lead to overeating, poor eating habits, and a sedentary lifestyle, resulting in weight gain.

    Unhealthy Habits that Can be Developed During Stress

    • Stress can cause unhealthy habits in a person which can lead to weight gain.
    • Craving for unhealthy foods high in fats and sugars makes you eat more than you need.
    • Eating fast foods and comfort foods like French fries, pizzas, and pasta, for instant energy can lead to cause extra fat deposition.
    • Excess consumption of alcoholic beverages and sugary beverages provide extra calories.
    • A sedentary lifestyle, wherein you move less, less physical activity at work and lack of exercise leads to decreased energy expenditure and accumulation of fats in the body.
    • Lack of sleep during stress has an adverse effect on the body and interferes with mood, concentration, and weight.

    What Are the Effects of Weight Gain Caused by Stress?

    Weight gain due to stress along with the increased Cortisol levels can lead to many health issues in the body. Common health problems are:

    • Unhealthy appetite and abnormal fat deposition around the waist forming belly / Visceral fat.
    • Fatigue and body pains.
    • Depression and anxiety.
    • Increases risk for medical conditions such as diabetes (high blood sugars), hypertension (high blood pressure), heart attacks, stroke, cancers etc.
    • Decrease in immune system response, making you more prone to infections.
    • The decrease in libido and sexual performance.

    Can Weight Gain Caused by Stress be Managed?

    Yes. Weight gain can be managed by using simple and effective ways to control weight and get back to a normal healthy weight.

    All you need is commitment and a strong desire to stay healthy and happy.

    Natural Ways to Manage Stress-Induced Weight Gain

    1. Removal of the root cause/stressor – If stress is causing weight gain and the stress can’t be avoided, change the way you react to it. React less, if you can’t change the situation anyway. Remaining calm will not lead to elevated stress hormone levels.
    2. Activity / Exercise is the best method for lowering the levels of the stress hormone, Cortisol which usually is increased, in response to stress. Exercise and regular physical activity help to burn the extra calories and to reduce weight gain. It also elevates mood and keeps you happy.
    3. Yoga and meditation are useful to relax the body and the mind and help to keep the hormones under check.
    4. Healthy eating habits like eating on time, eating healthy foods, eating foods with fewer sugars, and taking low-calorie foods, can help lose weight.
    5. Decrease stressful thinking by learning to relax the mind with simple ways such as listening to music, reading interesting books, maintaining healthy relationships with others can all help to avoid stress-related weight gain.
    6. Sleeping adequately for 7-8 hours every day and having good quality sleep helps balance hormones and reduce weight.
    7. Use of natural dietary supplements made from natural extracts of plants and herbs such as garcinia, ginger, green tea, tulsi (Indian Basil), ginseng can help kickstart or boost your weight loss journey.

    [ Try: Moderate Tablets to Reduce Blood Sugar Spike Post Meal ]

    Does Garcinia Cambogia and Herbs Like Asana Help Reduce Weight Gain?

    • Garcinia Cambogia is a popularly used natural herbal extract from a fruit, which consists of HCA (hydroxy citric acid), an active ingredient that can help reduce weight.
    • HCA of Garcinia Cambogia acts by reducing appetite and regulating fat metabolism, lowering lipid levels, and decreasing fat deposition thereby promoting weight loss.
    • Asana Extracts help in reducing hunger pangs, sugar cravings and remove unwanted toxins from the body. It has also been proven to reduce LDL (bad cholesterol) and help increase metabolism, thereby promoting weight loss.
    • As it has been found that stress can lead to weight gain, due to an increase in stress hormone levels, it is essential to manage stress properly. If stress continues for a long time, more is the weight gain that can affect the physical and mental wellbeing. Maintain a healthy weight by following the natural ways of reducing weight and keeping yourself healthy and fit.

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    Disclaimer: The information provided on this page is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any questions or concerns about your health, please talk to a healthcare professional.

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