You may have heard it before and underestimated the relationship, but stress has a large impact on not only your daily life, but on your waistline as well. There are number of different pathways in which stress can cause you to gain weight, without much change in your diet or physical activity. Chronic stress, especially, has the ability to change your internal chemistry and send signals to your body to hold onto excess fat. In order to reverse this process or prevent it from happening all together, learn about some of these pathways from stress to weight gain and stop them in their tracks.
What is Stress?
Stress comes in all different forms. Most think of the negative, anxiety-giving stress that people may get from things like a bad relationship, being bogged down with work, etc. There is also positive stress like when you are planning for a wedding or a new baby or buying a new home for the first time. Even though the latter examples may feel like a “good” anxious, your body can recognize them similarly as a stressful situation that you need to get out of. Many people look to taking supplements that offer relaxation benefits, such as Kratom, during these times. Kratom and similar natural remedies like CBD have many benefits when it comes to dealing with stress!
How is Stress related to Weight Gain?
You may have heard of the bodily reaction, “fight or flight.” This occurs when your body is under pressure and hormones are secreted to protect you or prepare you for anticipated actions. Your body may falsely believe that it is in great danger and because it may need to flee, it does not know when or where its next meal will come from. This is the stage where it begins to hold onto fat and decrease your metabolism. It wants to ensure that it has energy stored for later if need be. If you are in immediate danger or a temporary period of stress, then this may not have an overall affect on your weight. If you maintain this anxious state, however, you may develop chronic stress and this is where people tend to see issues with weight gain.
Stress and Cortisol
One of the hormones secreted during stress is called cortisol. Cortisol has been linked to weight gain as it alerts your body to hold onto fat as well as slows down your metabolism, all because of this phenomenon of needing to fight or flee. Because the process of burning calories is hindered, it doesn’t matter if your diet stays exactly the same. A slowed metabolism will not process it properly.
Stress and Blood Sugar/Insulin
Chronic stress also has the ability to change the way your body processes sugars. The heightened blood sugar levels can lead to increased risk of other more serious health conditions like stroke and heart attack. Mood swings and fatigue are also symptoms that are associated, making it even more difficult to maintain or lose weight at this time.
Lack of sleep due to stress
Because heavy stress usually comes in a time of excess turmoil and hectic, unpredictable schedules, sleeping is usually low on the list of priorities. It is no surprise that lack of sleep, due to stress, can only hinder any weight loss efforts.
Stress and unhealthy eating habits
Cravings are also a big party of how people decide to cope with their stress. For some, finding comfort in food is a way to alleviate their signs of stress and escape their problems. Unfortunately, these foods are usually high in fat, sugar and salts making them unhealthy options and only worsening the affects of weight gain.
Stress and Belly Fat
Stress is a medical danger for several reasons, but increased abdominal fat is one that has serious health indications. People under periods of stress tend to store fat specifically in this region and not only is it aesthetically displeasing, but fat in the midsection is notoriously related to other conditions like heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
There are plenty of stress management methods out there from meditation and yoga to deep breathing techniques and even herbal supplements. One place to start in selecting your approach is identifying the source of your stress whether it be work, family or finances. This will allow you to go into these situations with a clear mind and prioritize and plan around these stressors. Take note of not only these stressful events but how you cope with them as well. This will help you identify unhealthy ways of coping, especially those that are related to weight gain. From there, avoid these events as much as possible and learn to cope in a healthier manner to ensure that your health and weight are in tiptop shape.
Besides practicing stress-relief techniques, you must also keep in mind that you are likely lacking many nutrients. Therefore, increasing your intake of vitamins and minerals, especially Vitamins B, C and magnesium, is important to maintain your health. While you may have tried or considered psychiatric medications, know that there are plenty of natural supplements and methods to regain control of your life and manage your stress and subsequent weight. Keep these tips in mind and begin your journey of an unburdened and fit life.