Six Ways Stress May Cause Weight Gain

For National Stress Awareness Month - Can Stress Cause Weight Gain?  Yes!

Weight gain may be caused by many factors, some controllable, some not; but did you know that stress may contribute to weight gain?  There are several reasons why higher stress levels may cause you to gain weight or make it more difficult to lose weight.

Cortisol – a stress hormone

Cortisol is a stress hormone that is released by the body as a protective response causing a burst of energy, shifts in metabolism, rapid heart rate, increased blood flow and focus.  Whether it’s stress at work, home or other life crisis, prolonged stress periods may lead to weight gain as well as other serious health risks.

  1. Slower Metabolism -- Too much cortisol released from stress can slow your metabolism which burns less calories and leading to weight gain, even if you still eat the same amount you did before.
  2. Cravings for the bad stuff and more of it  - We’ve all been there.  Who wants to eat vegetables when you are stressed out?  Ice cream, chips, candy, alcohol and fast food sound much better; but of course, may cause weight gain if consumed too often.  Excess stress can also cause you to consume more than you normally would.  All of which means more calories in than out and equals weight gain.
  3. Increased Fat Storage -- Increased levels of stress are linked to greater amounts of abdominal fat stored, which is also linked to greater health risks such as heart disease and diabetes.
  4. Swinging Blood Sugar -- Prolonged stress may cause blood sugar levels to go up and down, causing mood swings, fatigue, and conditions like hyperglycemia. Too much stress has even been linked to metabolic syndrome, a cluster of health concerns that can lead to even greater health problems, like heart attacks and diabetes.  Eat short, small meals throughout the day to even out blood sugar levels.Too much stress leads to fast food may cause weight gain
  5. Too Much Fast Food – It’s easy, it’s fast but we all know it leads to weight gain even if you order the salad – with all the dressing, croutons, nuts, cheese, etc.  Pizza anyone?  Taking the time to cook a healthy meal is not easy and you do have to plan ahead.  Grab a Subway sandwich if you have to eat fast food with just oil and vinegar or order a salad with low fat dressing on the side.
  6. No Time for Exercise – It’s even more difficult to find time to exercise in our busy lives.  Before work, after work, during work or not at all if a deadline is looming.  Try to fit in little exercises here and there if you can.  Exercise is a wonderful stress reliever.

As part of your weight loss plan be sure to monitor the stress levels in your daily life and how it is affecting your eating habits.  B vitamins can also become depleted during stress and are important in reducing the affects of stress.  Taking a B Complex supplement  or a multivitamin with B Complex vitamins may help minimize the affects of daily stress and help with mental focus.

Learn more about controlling stress and some easy tips to relieve stress here and here.

For more information on National Stress Awareness Month visit

Comments for Six Ways Stress May Cause Weight Gain

Name: Eustacia Miliusis
Time: Saturday, October 27, 2012

Thank you for listing the negatvie effects that long term stress can have on physical health, really makes you start to evaluate how you should try to reduce stress.

Name: Eustacia Miliusis
Time: Sunday, October 28, 2012

Thank you for this great article, a great reminder of how important it is to keep everything balanced to reach and maintain wellness.

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