How To Control Your Anxiety Related Weight Gain
It doesn’t matter what causes you to gain weight. Diet and exercise are still the most effective solutions. Make sure that you’re eating healthy with the right calories, and that you’re exercising regularly. There is no magic pill that will cause you to lose weight – in fact, many diet pills and diets can actually increase anxiety. You simply need to start taking care of your body, and your weight will follow.
The good news is that exercise and healthy eating are actually incredibly effective tools for combating anxiety as well. So in a way, it doesn’t matter which comes first – you’re reducing both when you start exercising regularly.
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How Chronic Stress Can Make You Fat
When the body is under stress, it shifts the way it physically handles incoming food. The stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol quickly mobilize energy production from carbohydrates and stored fats. But they also make the body less sensitive to leptin, the hormone that makes us feel full, so we inadvertently eat larger portions than normal.
There is nothing wrong with this chain of events its simply part of our bodys innate fight or flight response that evolved long ago to help us to run for our lives, or stop and fight for survival.
The chronic stress of modern life is very different from stress our ancient forbearers faced, of course, but the bodys biochemical response remains exactly the same. So, unless you really do need to outrun a wild animal, your body doesnt require all those extra calories for energy when youre stressed and thats why they get stored as fat.
Weight problems are standard for women in a state of constant stress, operating under elevated or high cortisol levels for very long periods of time.
Cortisol is a key stress regulation hormone produced by the adrenal glands. When youre in danger, your body is pre-programmed to release higher levels of the hormone. Cortisol helps to quickly boost your energy levels so you can react and flee imminent danger. Cortisol specifically helps:
- Regulate your blood pressure.
- Regulate the effects of insulin the master hormone that controls your blood sugar levels.
- Reduce inflammation.
How To Manage Prolonged Stress Or Anxious Thoughts
The frustrating part about prolonged stress is that you often don’t know when the issues causing the stress will end. Because of this, it’s important to learn two things: acceptance for things you cannot control and healthy stress management skills. Common effective stress management skills include:
- Deep breathing. Concentrate on calming your mind as you take deep breaths in and out.
- Light cardio exercise. Going for a brisk walk can help you manage stress more effectively without further depleting your body’s needed stores of energy.
- Track specific events or situations that trigger your anxiety. Keep a record of meals and caloric intake to better understand the connection.
- Artistic expression. Drawing, painting, singing or playing an instrument can help you release some of that nervous energy.
- Relaxing hobbies. Whether it’s crocheting, hiking or singing karaoke, doing something you enjoy can help you calm your mind and quiet your nerves.
- Maintaining self-care. If necessary, put a reminder in your phone to tell you when it’s time to eat, bathe, or sleep. Above all, exercise basic “sleep hygiene” to ensure your body gets the rest it needs.
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Activation Of The Bodys Fight
When the body is under stress, the sympathetic nervous system triggers the release of epinephrine, also called adrenaline, from the adrenal glands. A rush of epinephrine activates the bodys fight-or-flight response, which prepares a person to flee or fight off an impending threat.
Epinephrine causes the heart to beat faster and breathing to speed up, which can burn calories. Additionally, it changes how the gut digests food and alters blood glucose levels.
Stress Slows Your Metabolism
A 2015 study found that stress can slow down your metabolism. Another study found that excess cortisol can lead to lower testosterone levels in your body. This may result in decreased muscle mass and increased calorie deposition. Further, stress can disrupt your sleep cycle which again contributes to a slower metabolism.
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Weight Gain Can Cause Anxiety
Another reason that anxiety and weight gain have a complex relationship is because weight gain – or rather, the reasons that people gain weight – can also cause anxiety.
Inactivity is one of the reasons that some people develop anxiety. The body needs to move. It was designed to move. Those that don’t exercise are considerably more likely to develop anxiety disorders.
Weight gain can also lead to poor breathing habits, which are known to trigger anxiety symptoms and panic attacks. Unhealthy foods may also contribute to anxiety – although they rarely cause it – and poor sleeping habits and aging can lead to both weight gain and anxiety even though the two are unrelated.
Some people also become more anxious when they gain weight simply because they lose confidence in themselves. All of these are reasons why the relationship between anxiety and weight is so complex.
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How To Avoid Weight Loss From Stress
Its about self-care and being kinder to your body, says Rosemarin. Heres what you can do:
- Exercise: That means moving your body more, by walking or doing whatever you enjoy most.
- Get regular sleep: Sleeping for 7-9 hours per night is ideal.
- Eat at regular intervals: Yes, even if your appetite is less than robust.
- Connect with others: Isolation is hard on your body. Actually connecting with people emotionally, whether its family or a close friend, is really key, Rosemarin says.
The Role Of Cortisol In The Body
Stress can significantly impact your ability to maintain a healthy weight. It can also prevent you from losing weight. Whether it’s the result of high levels of the stress hormone cortisol, unhealthy stress-induced behaviors, or a combination of the two, the link between stress and weight gain is glaring.
Verywell / Brianna Gilmartin
Stress And Weight Gain
With all of the above in mind, its not surprising that periods of stress can lead to weight gain. Stress-related risk factors for weight gain include:
- Increased appetite
- Lack of sleep
- Not exercising enough
All of these factors can combine with other stress symptoms to cause a negative spiral, leading to greater weight gain. For instance, feeling so stressed that you cant sleep may stop you from doing regular exercise, which in turn worsens feelings of anxiety and stress, perpetuating the cycle and making it harder to break.
Stress Impacts Your Brains Reward System
Its theorized that food can have addictive and dependent traits, as tasty food can stimulate the brains reward system by releasing opioid. More so, opioid release can shut down an HPA axis stimulation, so theoretically, chronic stress can trigger overeating as a way to a way to cope with an overactive HPA axis. Plus, in this model, eating makes you happy, which stressed people strive for.
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How Stress Can Cause Weight Gain
Stress can significantly impact your ability to maintain a healthy weight. It can also prevent you from losing weight. Whether its the result of high levels of the stress hormone cortisol, unhealthy stress-induced behaviors, or a combination of the two, the link between stress and weight gain is glaring.
The Link Between Stress and Cortisol
Researchers have long known that rises in the stress hormone cortisolcan lead to weight gain. Every time youre stressed, your adrenal glands release adrenaline and cortisol, and as a result, glucose is released into your bloodstream. All of this is done to give you the energy you need to escape from a risky situation .
Once the threat has subsided, your adrenaline high wears off and your blood sugar spike drops. This is when cortisol kicks into high gear to replenish your energy supply quickly.
Cortisol and Sugar Cravings
Cue the sugar cravings. Because sugar supplies your body with the quick energy it thinks it needs, its often the first thing you reach for when youre stressed.
The downside to consuming so much sugar is that your body tends to store sugar, especially after stressful situations. This energy is stored mainly in the form of abdominal fat, which can be particularly hard to shed. And so the vicious cycle starts: get stressed, release cortisol, gain weight, crave more sugar, eat more sugar, gain more weight.
Cortisol and Metabolism
Stress-Induced Unhealthy Habits
Adjust Your Meal Proportions
If there’s a chance that you’ll burn fewer calories in the hours after eating due to stress, shift your servings a bit to slash calories without having to eat less food. For example, eating one and a half cups of mixed veggies and a half cup of brown rice instead of one cup of each can save you 60-75 calories. Or instead of one cup of quinoa, mix half of that with half a cup of spinach to save about 100 calories.
I think you see where I’m going with this. Trading in a portion of your dense grains, even healthy ones, for low-cal, fiber- and water-rich veggies is the easiest way to accomplish a quick calorie savings that doesn’t require sacrificing volume.
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How To Spot Stress
One important thing to remember about stress is that it is a physical and emotional response. Often we think of it as one or the other based on what part we notice, but it is always both. Stress has a bad connotation, but stress can come from just about any source. It can be good, bad, or something you feel rather indifferent towards, but either way, the response is still there.
So, how do you spot stress in your life? There are different kinds of stress, and because life has a sense of humor sometimes, you can experience multiple types of stress simultaneously.
You know your body responds to stress, but can you identify your stressors?
Treatments For Weight Gain
If youve experienced weight gain after going through a period of stress, know that youre not alone. This is common for lots of people, and is probably just a temporary reaction to that stressful time. Following a healthy diet and exercise regime should help you lose weight and get back to normal.
Of course, some people find weight loss a lot more challenging, even with diet and exercise, which is why medicated treatments are available. Here at Online Doctor we can prescribe the weight loss tablets Xenical or Orlistat to people with a BMI over 30, or anyone with a BMI over 28 who has weight-related health issues.
Find out more at our online weight loss clinic.
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How Can I Lose Weight If I Am Constantly Stressed
We know that stress and anxiety often cause weight gain, yet the reality is that most of us live with a certain level of stress. But if you cant immediately remove a stressor from your life, how can you lose weight?
As a general rule, diets dont work for weight loss. Instead, you need a more holistic, sustainable approach to lose weight one that addresses the reasons why you may have gained weight, like poor hydration, imbalances in your body, the foods you eat, and even the amount of sleep that you are getting.
Ideal You offers a healthy way to lose weight by allowing you to reset your metabolism so that you are burning fat instead of storing it. You dont have to work out, or buy expensive pre-packaged food on the Ideal You program. Instead, youll eat real food, take all natural supplements, and work with experienced weight loss coaches to slim down. By changing your metabolism, you can counteract many of the effects of chronic stress even if you cannot completely eliminate stress from your life.
At Ideal You, we understand that figuring out how to lose weight can also be a source of stress. That is why we provide you with a structured food list and weight loss journal, and provide support from a team of weight loss coaches. You wont have to worry about how youre going to lose weight, because youll be following our proven strategy.
Balance Cortisol With Phytotherapy
Using the right plant-based ingredients helps reduce the negative effects of cortisol. Astragulus root, rhodiola, cordyceps and passionflower are highly effective in resolving adrenal imbalances because they adapt to your bodys specific needs.
Along with phytotherapy, consider supplementing with a high-quality multivitamin mineral complex that you can count on to supply basic, everyday nutrients that you cant live without. As adrenal expert, Shawn Talbott, PhD, confirms, “When it comes to dietary supplementation for stress adaptation and cortisol control, the first line of defense appears in the form of a comprehensive multivitamin/mineral supplement…”
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How Stress Causes Weight Gain And Ways To Tackle It
Stress can impact our weight in a variety of different ways. From increasing levels of fat-storing hormones to triggering non-hunger eating. In this article, we look at the various ways stress and weight are linked and how you can reduce the impacts of stress.
Can You Gain Weight Because Of Stress
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Likewise, can you put on weight from not eating?
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Can not eating make you put on weight?
How can I increase my appetite and gain weight?
Tips for Poor Appetite and Healthful Weight Gain
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Stressed Is Desserts Spelled Backward
Increased cortisol is associated with an increase in blood sugar level, and after this blood sugar spike comes a drop, then sugar cravings cue the comfort foods. Think about the foods you reach for when you feel stressed. Are ice cream, chocolate, and pizza coming to mind? The foods we crave tend to be highly processed and high in fat, sugar, and salt all of which are very easy to digest and absorb.
Another reason why comfort foods help us temporarily feel better is that they provide our brains with a boost of the happy neurotransmitter, serotonin. Feeling overwhelmed can make you want to reach for comfort foods or emotionally eat. The bottom line is that stress can impact you both physiologically and psychologically, hence the need for sweets and junk food cravings.
How Can You Lose Stress
Here are a few ways you can avoid and address any extra pounds you’ve gained from stress.
Focus on exercise
When you exercise, you’re expending energy that can burn off calories. But there are also a ton of other benefits to exercising, including improving your cardiovascular health and increasing your endorphin levels, which can fight off stress and pain.
When your body is stressed, it wants to hang onto fat instead, so it can save more energy.
According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults should get at least 150 minutes to 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes to 150 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise a week, or the equivalent of a combo of these two. Working out can also increase your threshold for stress, says Dr. Youdim. “Probably the most compelling reason for exercise is that studies have shown that when you can tolerate physiological stress, like when you push yourself physically, you’re better able to tolerate psychological stress.”
When you exercise, your body can reduce its levels of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol, according to Harvard Health. So not only can working out help you lose and stress-related weight gain, it can also combat the source: stress.
Cook healthier versions of your favorite comfort foods
Keep a food journal
Try mindful eating habits
Prioritize your sleep
Incorporate stress relief and self-care into your day-to-day life
Check in on your mental health
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Reducing Cortisol To Lose Weight
To reduce cortisol, you must work to reduce your stress levels. Find techniques that help you calm down. Taking a walk, a long hot bath, deep breathing, acupuncture, and massage are just to name a few.
Even during prolonged stressful circumstances, you can keep your hormone levels from staying elevated. First, eat a diet consisting of whole foods that are anti-inflammatory.Reduce your sugar, caffeine, and alcohol consumption. Eat Fat, fiber, and protein at every meal or snack to help keep your blood sugar and hormone levels normal, which will help you manage those cravings!
We all know that exercise is good for us, but particularly light exercise releases endorphins into the body which helps us to relieve stress,
Get enough sleep
A good nights sleep is essential to reducing stress. Turn your screens off at least two hours before bedtime. Turn the power off on your cell phone as the wi-fi signal can disrupt your sleep cycle. Try reading a book to wind down or listen to soft music. Chamomile tea is a natural sleep remedy that helps to relax you and reduces your cortisol levels. If you are having trouble falling asleep, eight ounces of tart cherry juice contains natural melatonin that can naturally help with insomnia. You could take a magnesium supplement if needed. In addition, dont eat three hours before bedtime. Your body needs to wind down and rest, and food revs you back up again as the body has to work to digest.
Eat Dark Chocolate