Can Stress Cause Weight Gain?
These days it’s difficult not to be stressed. Living in big cities, challenging works and personal lives, unrealistic performance standards all add up. Whatever the reason, your body will respond to stress in the same way – it will release a variety of chemicals to help you deal with stressful situation. In particular, adrenal glands release hormone adrenalin, which releases the stores of sugar into your blood, and the hormone cortisol.
This means that results of stress are very similar to results of a diet too high in sugar and refined carbohydrates. Both lead to dysglycemia, an inability to keep blood sugar levels stable. When your blood sugar levels shoot up your body produces insulin, also known as fat storing hormone. Insulin is supposed to get sugar out of the blood. When sugar level is too low, your adrenal glands will produce even more cortisol. This results into hormone imbalance with many health consequences including weight gain.
The pattern of raised insulin and cortisol levels is called metabolic syndrome. It explains why many women experience weight gain without apparent increase in calorie intake. There is an obvious connection between stress and weight gain. Correcting this problem will help you lose weight and avoid many other health problems caused by metabolic syndrome.
If the stressful situation is a one-time only event your body will release all these chemicals to help you deal with the situation and then use them up. But the problem is that stressors are continuously present in our lives. When you are constantly stressed your body doesn’t regain chemical balance. It continues releasing sugar and because it’s not used for energy it will be converted to fat. There is no other choice. Your body has to respond this way, because excessive amounts of sugar in blood are life-threatening. All your body does is dumping dangerous substance from your blood to places where it will not cause immediate harm.
What to do?
To reverse the vicious cycle of metabolic syndrome you need to take control over stress in your life. Identify stressors and decide what you can do about them. Obviously some sources of stress are hard to control, however you can improve some others with proper planning and management.
Minimize stress as much as you can – practice relaxation techniques (breathing exercises is a good example), book a massage session, include low-impact exercises into your daily routine, take any opportunity to be in nature, quit smoking, eat less sugar and refined carbohydrates, and make sure you sleep well (learn more about sleeping and weight gain here).
Take a stress test
If you want to make sure, it is possible to take a stress hormone test. A saliva sample is taken at specific times of the day to measure the flow of adrenal hormones. If the test shows that you reached adrenal fatigue you’ll need to adjust your eating plan and lifestyle to correct the problem. When you regain normal chemical balance you will be able to lose weight in proportion to your weight-loss efforts.