Everyone knows that the most influential factors on your weight are the foods you eat and how much exercise you get. However, many people also believe that high stress levels can dramatically affect your weight.
Does stress make you gain weight? And how can you eliminate tension in your life?
How are Stress and Weight Connected?
The main reason behind the close relationship between stress and your weight is the hormone cortisol.
According to Elizabeth Scott, M.S., when you feel anxious and stressed out, your body increases its production of the stress hormone cortisol, believing you to be under attack and needing to be in survival mode.
In order to help you get into this “survival mode,” your body increases its release of cortisol, which works, first of all, by slowing down your metabolism. If you were actually in danger, this would be advantageous because it would help the food you had eaten keep you fuller for longer; however, if you are trying to slim down, a slow metabolism definitely has a negative effect.
Stress, says Scott, also makes you gain weight because of the impact it has on your blood sugar levels. She explains that “prolonged stress can alter your blood sugar levels, causing mood swings, fatigue, and conditions like hyperglycemia.”
In addition to each of these issues, when your blood sugar levels get out of order, it can also result in weight gain because they alert the body that rather than burn fat for energy, there is already enough energy present and should instead store the fat.
Additionally, the excess blood sugar causes the body to transport, according to CaloriesPerHour.com. This then makes your blood sugar and insulin levels drop suddenly, causing you to crave sugary, high-calorie food—definitely not ideal if you are trying to keep your calorie count low in order to lose weight.
How Can You Reduce Stress and Lose Weight?
Since the answer to the question, “Does stress make you gain weight?” is definitely yes, you should try and keep your stress as low as possible. Obviously you cannot erase all stress from your life, but you can do your best to keep it under control.
For starters, one of the best ways to reduce stress and lose weight is to get enough sleep each night. When you get fewer than seven hours of sleep, you probably already knows how you feel the next day: drained, on edge, tense, and exhausted.
However, a bad night’s sleep does not only increase your stress levels; it also increases your appetite. A clinical study conducted at Stanford University proved that when you get less sleep, your appetite-inducing hormone ghrelin increases while your appetite-suppressing hormone leptin decreases.
As a result, you feel constantly hungry throughout the day without ever really feeling satisfied, making it really hard to stick to your diet. Thus if you get enough sleep each night, you can keep your hormones—ghrelin, leptin, and cortisol—under control and in turn prevent weight gain!
You can also help eliminate stress and maintain a healthy weight by getting regular exercise. Even if the reason for your anxiety is that you are extremely busy, all you need are 30 minutes per day of any physical activity to both relieve tension and keep your body healthy.
If you really are too swamped to even justify going on a half-hour walk, try multi-tasking! Many people get work done while on a cycling machine at the gym, or by taking a brisk walk during your lunch break.
Eliminating Stress Will Help You Look and Feel Amazing!
Stress can have a very negative effect on your weight loss efforts, so working to reduce tension in your life can really help you achieve your dieting goals!
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