Stress makes you fat: why and how to avoid it

El estrés engorda: por qué y cómo evitarlo

Did you know that being stressed causes the perfect storm for you to gain weight and have a hard time losing it in the future? Yes, stress makes you fat.

It happens because an exaggerated production of hormones is triggered, leading to unhealthy or excessive eating, among other situations.

Fortunately, there are ways to prevent stress-related weight gain. In this post we are going to show you why it happens and how to avoid it.

What stress does to your body

Your body responds to stress by increasing cortisol levels which prepares it for fight or flight. Cortisol is the stress hormone released by the adrenal glands that increases in response to a threat.

If this hormone is often elevated, overeating can become a habit.

Excess cortisol also promotes higher insulin levels, your blood sugar drops, and you crave fatty, sugary foods. That's why stress makes you fat.

Cortisol is also an important appetite stimulant. Therefore, you respond to stress, opting for comfort foods.

It can even cause Cushing's Syndrome , a disorder that promotes weight gain, depression, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

Why does stress make you fat?

  • Triggers food cravings : Stress makes you fat because it makes you prefer junk food, due to the increase in the hormone cortisol and the “hunger” hormone (ghrelin), which stimulate appetite and promote the intake of fats and sugars.
  • Increases abdominal fat : As cortisol levels rise, the accumulation of fat increases, mainly abdominal or visceral fat, the type that is deposited around vital organs.
  • Makes insulin less effective: You need the hormone insulin to get blood sugar into your cells. But it doesn't work as well when you're under stress, which can lead to fat storage and obesity. Stress can lead to a buildup of harmful inflammatory compounds called free radicals in your body, damaging cells.
  • Leads to insomnia: Cortisol isn't just a stress hormone; it also helps regulate other aspects of health, including sleep. Too much cortisol in your system disrupts or decreases recommended hours of sleep, promotes fat storage and hunger. Also, you may not have the energy to move after a bad night's sleep, so it will reduce the amount of fuel (fat) burned during the day.
  • It sabotages your training: Stress is fattening because it reduces your performance during exercise and hinders muscle recovery after doing so. This is because cortisol is a catabolic hormone (degrades muscles), and dampens the effects of testosterone hormones and human growth hormones that are anabolic (strengthen muscles).
  • Affects metabolism: Even if you're not eating high-fat and high-sugar foods, cortisol also slows down your metabolism, making it difficult to lose weight.
  • It alters the hunger hormones, leptin and ghrelin: these hormones send signals to your brain that will determine how hungry you feel. That will ensure you eat enough to, again, deal with any perceived threats.
  • Activate emotional eating: excess nervous energy causes you to eat more than normal. When you get stressed, without planning what you eat, you will put the first thing you find or becomes available in your mouth (which are not always the healthiest options).

It will also help you read: 8 ways to maintain weight loss after dieting

Tips to prevent stress from making you fat

You need to manage stress just as important as your diet or exercise program. Managing stress is crucial if you want to lose weight.

  • Set Priorities: Write down how you spend your time each day during the week. Identify and prioritize which activities are most relevant to you. Don't forget to build in time to get enough sleep and exercise.
  • Make exercise a priority: Exercise reduces stress levels and helps reduce anxiety symptoms. And if you do it regularly, it stimulates the production of endorphins, which are brain chemicals that elevate mood and relaxation.
  • Eat healthier foods: You don't need carbs or trans fats to feel better; opt for healthy foods that you like. Be sure to stock your pantry with them so you have better options when you get stressed.
  • Practice mindful eating: Focusing on what you're eating without distractions will help reduce stress and weight gain. Try to enjoy your food without paying attention to your phone or TV at the same time.
  • Incorporate stress relief strategies: Whether you enjoy yoga or reading a good book, add simple, natural pain relievers like deep breathing, listening to music, or going for a walk to your daily routine. If you do, you reduce your cortisol levels, preventing stress from making you fat.
  • Get 7-8 hours of sleep at night: Create a sleep routine each day so it becomes a habit.
  • Rely on supplements: Do not self-medicate chemical sleeping pills unless prescribed by a doctor. There are all-natural ingredients that do wonders for improving stress levels and good sleep that won't leave you feeling groggy the next day. Evolution Advance has Sleep Fit which contains additional ingredients that help curb hunger and cravings, while keeping your energy and focus at peak.

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