stress and weight gain

How Are Stress And Weight Gain Connected?

If you’ve ever wondered how are stress and weight gain connected, this article will give you insight as well as some practical steps you can take to reduce overthinking and stress.

How do you know if you’ve fallen into the vicious circle of overthinking, stress, and weight gain? Well, it might start with overbearing mental or emotional stress and turn into overeating in an attempt to self medicate. Does this sound like you?

Although eating while you are stressed might feel good at the moment, it can lead to unwanted weight gain if continued over weeks, months, or even years. The good news is that you can break the cycle of overthinking and weight by finding healthy ways to cope with stress. This article discusses the link between stress and weight gain and what to do about it.

Stress and Weight Gain: How One Fuels The Other

Have you ever noticed how hard it is to lose weight when you are stressed? Even if you are exercising regularly and eating healthy, it can be hard to shed pounds if you’re under a great deal of emotional stress.

This is because overthinking and weight gain go hand-in-hand. Research shows that social stress has an effect on food consumption, dietary preferences, and regional distribution of fatty tissue. Specifically, human studies show that there is a link between visceral obesity, the sympathetic nervous system, and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) hyperactivity.

In other words, when you feel stressed, it causes you to crave comfort foods that are high in refined carbohydrates, which are more calorie-dense and nutrient-poor than fruits and vegetables. This leads to fluctuations in blood glucose levels. It might feel good to eat these foods at first because carbohydrates stimulate the production of serotonin.

However, eventually you’ll experience a blood sugar crash, causing you to feel hungry again shortly after eating. You’ll inevitably end up eating more comfort foods that are high in refined carbs to bring your glucose levels back up again, making you feel guilty for your actions and creating a never ending cycle of overthinking and weight gain.

How To Stop The Cycle of Overthinking and Weight Gain

If you find yourself eating more when you are stressed, you’re not imagining things. Research shows that there is a very scientific reason for this behavior.

When you’re stressed, it activates the autonomic nervous system (ANS) and the HPA axis. The ANS controls functions in your body such as blood pressure, hormone release, digestion, heart rate, and respiration. Also when you’re stressed, the sympathetic nervous system becomes activated. This is the part of your body responsible for the “fight or flight” response.

Under normal circumstances, the stress response is short-lived and your body returns to normal when the threat is gone. However, when you experience continued stress, your body continuously releases steroid hormones called glucocorticoids that cause you to overeat by creating a resistance to the fullness signals you receive from leptin.

The overriding of leptin signals coupled with the increased cravings from comfort food that you feel when you’re stressed is a fight that many people cannot win without help. The first step to winning this battle is to control the stress response induced by the nervous system.

Here are some healthy habits that can help balance stress and weight gain.

1. Exercise!

Exercise is a great way to lose weight – everyone knows that. However, it’s also one of the best ways to deal with stress.

Exercise reduces stress hormones and stimulates the production of chemicals that reduce pain and make you feel calm and relaxed. After a good exercise session, you can almost feel the stress melt away and loosen up the tightly wound muscles in your body.

We recommend adding exercise to your daily routine first thing in the morning to avoid spiking cortisol levels at night when it’s time to sleep.

2. Meditate.

While exercise is a great way to reduce stress on a daily basis, you might still need on the spot support when stress hits.

Taking a few minutes to mediate when you feel overwhelmed or stress throughout the day can help manage the stress response and bright down cortisol levels.

This may look different for everyone. If you’re in public, try sneaking away to your car or a place where you can be alone and repeat a “safe” phrase or do some breathing exercises.

3. Supplement.

Sometimes, you need help combating the effects of stress so that you can continue on with the rest of your life goals, such as losing weight.

SolFlow Corti-Cool helps combat high cortisol levels that you feel when you’re chronically stressed, which prevents you from being able to achieve the weight loss you desire.

It contains adaptogen herbs that increase your resilience to stress, balance the HPA axis, and support adrenal function.

Adding these stress-relieving habits to your daily routine can help drive down cortisol levels that are preventing you from feeling your best and controlling your thoughts for good.

Further Reading:

Whole Health Tips for Stress Management

I Can’t Sleep Because My Mind Keeps Racing!

The Consequences of Always Being “Wired and Tired”