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Does Stress Cause Weight Gain or Loss?

Does Stress Cause Weight Gain or Loss?

Last Reviewed : 12/18/2020
Does Stress Cause Weight Gain or Loss?

More often than not, people don’t seem to know that stress could culminate in both weight gain and loss, depending on the individual. For most people out there, stress only leads to weight loss. Although they are right, they are not entirely right. This is so because it can also result in weight gain.

Truly, stress is the most import risk factor for non-communicable diseases. It has its impact on the daily routine activities especially food habits, thus contributing to either weight loss or weight gain. During stressful periods, the fight or flight response of the adrenal glands gets activated and releases hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. These two hormones contribute to weight gain or weight loss. Now, let’s dissect some mechanisms of the two results of stress.

Stress and Weight Loss

Here are some important mechanism that you should know:

  • Adrenaline prepares the body to tackle stress. Cortisol, a steroid hormone, suppresses all the non-essential systems like digestive system, immune system and reproductive system temporarily. Adrenaline also decreases the desire to eat
  • Suppressed digestive system along with poor desire to eat contributes to gastro intestinal distress or discomfort which is due to accumulation of gases or the acid in the stomach. This, in turn, leads to symptoms of heart burn and stomach pain. These changes will further suppress the desire to eat contributing to weight loss
  • Stress also makes someone physically active which again contributes to weight loss
  • Sleep disturbances are common in stress which will further add to the weight loss by altering the food habits
  • Weight loss becomes a major concern if it is more than 5%.

Stress and Weight Gain

On the other hand, stress can lead to weight gain. Well, here’s the explanation:

  • Cortisol is the hormone that remains elevated for longer duration, which can be the cause for weight gain
  • It plays a major role in fat and carbohydrate metabolism in the body by stimulating the production of Insulin. Insulin lowers the blood sugar level which increases the desire for sugary foods with the end result of weight gain
  • Excessive eating can be a source of solace and can lower stress
  • Dietary habits also change during the periods of stress that contribute to weight gain. Some of them are:
  • Consumption of high fat and high sugary foods (comfort foods)
  • Nervous system often makes you eat more under the effect of cortisol
  • Extra-dependence on junk food or empty calories
  • Skipping meals and drinking less amounts of water
  • Feeling too lazy for exercise

vi.Poor sleep.

According to article published in journal Cell Metabolism, weight gain and stress are intimately linked. This is due to the effect of glucocorticoids. Besides, excess amounts of glucocorticoids during night will alter the circadian rhythm and contributes to weight gain.

Final Thoughts

Obviously, you now know that stress can lead to both weight loss and gain. Before now, people were used to stress becoming a major contributory factor to weight loss. But in this piece, you have learned that undergoing stress can also lead to your weight gain. Already, you have seen how possible that is. However, experts believe that weight gain due to stress doesn’t happen almost instantly like weight loss. Indeed, it manifests over a period of time. Body changes due to stress occur as a result of changes in metabolism, fat storage and insulin. So, if you notice an undesirable changes in your physique due to stress, your best bet remains to contact your doctor.

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