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How Can Stress Make You Lose Weight

How Too Much Stress Can Cause Weight Gain

Is STRESS making you GAIN weight? [Can Stress Cause Weight Gain?]

The question of whether excess amounts of cortisol can lead to weight gain is essentially the same as asking if too much stress can cause you to put on unwanted pounds. The answer in both cases is yes.

Cortisol a natural stress hormone is responsible for regulating your metabolism, so its important to follow common wellness guidelines to lower it. From finding time for relaxation to improving your diet and exercise, you can ensure that you control your cortisol and not the other way around.

Treatment For Unintentional Weight Loss

Treatment for unintentional weight loss depends on what’s causing it.

A GP will ask about your health and may arrange some tests or scans.

Depending on the possible cause, they may:

  • advise you about things you can do to help, such as ways to reduce stress
  • recommend treatment for any condition that’s causing you to lose weight
  • refer you to a specialist

Page last reviewed: 16 February 2022 Next review due: 16 February 2025

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It would suggest that any method people can use to beat stress could be of benefit, Heaney said. I think the challenge is for people who are stressed often. I dont think jumping into a 30-minute yoga or Pilates class will be enough to address that.

The kinds of activities that might help are those that need 100 percent of our attention, Heaney said.

That could mean a game of tennis over running on a treadmill, for example.

“Certain activities we do are not absorbing enough to distract from stress, Heaney said. “Whereas jogging might be a good healthy sport, you can sometimes still ruminate and be stressed because it doesn’t require your sole attention.”

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Take A Break To Relieve Stress

The day to day stress of life can often take its toll. It becomes chronic stress that then leads to weight gain because it is the same problem of work and life day in, day out.

Take a break from your ordinary life.

This does not have to be a whole week away in an exotic location , but can simple be an afternoon exploring a local area or hiking away from your city.

Often taking a step away from the day to day normal activities can benefit you by allowing you to breathe.

When you come back to working and studying youll find your more in control of your emotions and feelings. Taking a break can be a great way to reduce stress to lose weight.

Production Of Stress Hormones

How Stress Prevents Weight Lossand What You Can Do About It

When you have anxiety or stress, your body enters a state of struggle or flight. This state is also known as a response to acute stress and is how your body responds to what causes stress or anxiety.

When youre in this state, your body produces adrenaline and cortisol. Both hormones help you react and stay alert during stressful, dangerous, or unknown situations. The problem with these hormones is that they have side effects.

Adrenaline prepares your body for important physical activity as if you were running or fighting and this hormone also reduces your appetite. Adrenaline also causes faster heart rate and breathing, which also help burn more calories.

On the other hand, cortisol usually suppresses digestive, reproductive, and immunological functions, among others. When your body digests less times, it means your body isnt getting nutrients and those it has can throw them away as waste. This could also lead to weight loss, as not digesting food results in a calorie deficit.

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Sign #: Only Someone With Superpowers Could Do Their Life

Your client might, in passing, mention that they have a full-time job as well as a side hustle. A little later, the same person reveals theyre raising three beautiful childrenall under age 5.

And one of them has a chronic health condition.

Oh, and their in-laws just moved in.

Such people might wear stress like a badge of honor. But youre left wondering: How are they still walking around?

Why You Crave Comfort Food When Youre Stressed

Chronic stress has an almost diabolical effect on the metabolism. Chronic stress may influence our brains reward system in areas such as the amygdala and hippocampus, which may promote food cravings, says Chao.

The secretion of cortisol in response to a stressor also tells your body to store belly fat, says Shawn Talbott, PhD, an exercise physiologist and nutritional biochemist in Salt Lake City, and author of The Cortisol Connection. A review published in July 2018 in the journal Medicine found that belly fat not only adds pounds but increases your risk for heart attack.

In addition, a study published in February 2017 in the European Journal of Neurology revealed a connection between belly fat and ischemic stroke in women. At the same time, hormones released in response to chronic stress can prompt the loss of skeletal muscle, according to a study published in January 2014 in the Journal of Clinical & Diagnostic Research. Muscle tissue is the largest calorie burner in the body, so overall metabolism drops, Dr. Talbott says.

Research has repeatedly found that social support can help decrease stress levels and thus lower the likelihood of weight gain. In a study published in May 2017 in the journal Behavior Modification, researchers found that while most first-year college students gained weight, students with lower levels of social support at the beginning of college had greater increases in body mass index .

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What To Eat In The Morning To Lose Weight Fast

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The Takeaway: Take Care Of Yourself

How To Reduce Stress And Lose Weight In 6 Simple Steps

If youve lost a lot of weight without trying, whether youre stressed or not, head to the doctor. But if youre not underweight and its just a few pounds, dont worryit will likely come back when you eat normally again. Less than ten pounds is usually not a big deal from a health perspective, says Rosmarin.

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Understanding Stress And Its Adverse Effect

Stress is a state of exertion, either emotional or physical. Any circumstance or thought that gives you annoyance, rage, or anxiety can trigger stress. Sometimes, stress proves advantageous, like it can help you meet a deadline or push you to work hard. Your body responds to a challenge or demand with acute and chronic stress, affecting your lifestyle choices and internal biological processes.

The recognition that stress can cause serious diseases has been a hot topic for research since it affects weight at multiple levels. While stress causes headaches, poor diet, and disturbances in sleep cycles in many people, it has worse consequences such as unexplained weight loss. However, the impact of stress on weight varies from person to person, based on their habits. For example, while some people lose weight due to stress-induced loss of appetite, others gain weight due to stress-induced overeating.

When Youll Notice Stress Related Hair Loss

Hair loss from stress is not something that youll notice immediately. In most instances, people experience hair loss within the first three months after a stressful event. In most cases, this hair loss is a sign that new hair will be growing again at the base, so you should focus on minimizing the stress youll see new hair growth in three to six months after this initial hair fall.

You are likely losing hair because the stress you face essentially puts your body into a survival mode of sorts. This diverts resources away from nonessential functions for life and instead where it is needed most.

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Why Do Our Bodies React To Anxiety With Weight Fluctuations

Your body will react to anxiety in different ways, depending on your level of stress and ability to cope. Anxiety can cause you to do different things that will affect your body weight, like:

  • Overeat, or ‘stress eat’
  • Forget to eat or skip meals
  • Crave junk food, comfort food, or sugary snacks
  • Lose motivation to exercise

Any of these behaviors can result in rapid weight change. Often, weight gain is a common and problematic result of prolonged anxiety.

Is There A Way For Me To Manage My Stress So I Dont Gain Weight

Pin on Losing Weight

Yes! There are ways for you to manage your stress so you do not gain any more weight! Heres what you need to do: First off, try getting enough sleep every night . Secondly, try eating a healthy diet so your body has the energy it needs but not too much that will leave you more tired than before. Thirdly is taking care of yourself through activities such as exercise or meditation which will help with your anxiety levels. Lastly is giving yourself time throughout the day for relaxation by reading a book or listening to music

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Try To Avoid Foods That Can Crash Your Blood Sugar And Make You Feel Worse

Although foods high in sugar can provide a quick boost of energy, the comedown is inevitable. When the sugar leaves your bloodstream, it may leave you feeling worse than before.

Foods high in fat and sodium may also make stress worse.

Try to limit or avoid the following until your stress subsides:

  • processed foods

How To Manage Anxiety And Stress To Avoid Weight Loss

Anxiety and stress can cause weight loss, but that doesnt mean its not possible to avoid. The key is self-awareness. If you are aware of the way your anxiety and stress are affecting your weight, youre better able to make changes in your lifestyle.

To manage stress and anxiety levels, try eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep and talking with someone about whats bothering you. These activities will help you stay on track for your weight loss goals.

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Have A Support System In Place

If you regularly find yourself forgetting to eat and losing a concerning amount of weight when youre stressed, work on building a support team of friends and professionals you can turn to when you see yourself slipping into these patterns.

You can also check out mental health resources like these for support:

  • Mindshift is an app that includes guided meditations and a journaling feature to track your emotions.
  • SAM is an app built to help you manage your stress and even offers an option to share your experiences with the apps community confidentially.
  • If you need to talk to someone, you can reach out to a crisis hotline. Cant call? You can text HELLO to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line.

Beware Of Unsupported Claims


In recent years, the diet industry has tried to capitalize on findings from studies about cortisol and weight gain. Perhaps youve come across advertisements promoting dietary supplements claiming to lower cortisol and enhance weight loss. Most medical professionals advise patients to avoid these products as no independent studies published in respected, peer-reviewed medical journals have shown that these supplements have any value in cortisol reduction or weight loss.

Overall, its important to remember that theres no miracle cure for elevated cortisol. Exercise, eating right and relaxation are the best methods for lowering these harmful hormone levels that have risen in response to stress.

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Incorporate Stress Relief And Self

If you don’t address the stress itself, then your body will continue to fall into a stress-related weight gain cycle. The way you manage your stress can be personal to you and your preferences, whether it’s practicing meditation or just engaging in more me time. “Meditation, in general, is a great strategy because it allows us to create some space between the trigger or emotion and our reaction and in that space we have a little bit more time to choose how we’re going to respond to our emotion,” says Dr. Youdim. It can help you make better conscious choices, for example taking a walk instead of hitting the fridge when you’re not feeling your best.

Dr. Illuri also says that there have been studies showing that massages, in particular, can reduce cortisol levels. When 53 adults underwent regular Swedish massages for a total of five weeks, they experienced decreased levels of cortisol, found a study in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.

Stress And Blood Sugar

Another physical aspect to stress is that it can affect your blood sugar levels. The stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol make it harder for insulin to work, and this causes your blood sugar levels to rise. Heightened blood sugar is associated with weight changes, and serious conditions like type 2 diabetes.

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But Why The Sudden Fat Loss In My Case

After all, my body already had the muscle development.

Prolonged anxiety, in and of itself, may result in a tendency to lose weight, says Dr. Kelley.

Anxiety may enhance adrenal activity, producing higher levels of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, which increase heart rate and blood pressure.

This would also represent an elevation in metabolic rate, which over time, could result in the loss of weight.

Elevated cortisol levels have traditionally been viewed as increasing ones tendency to store abdominal fat.

Its role, if any, in the weight loss process, as a result of prolonged stress, is not well-understood.

Though the argument could be made that prolonged stress and anxiety result in a more consistent elevation of adrenaline than cortisol, over time, or that the impact of the fight or flight hormones simply exert more visible impact over the course of time, than that of cortisol.

Dr. Kelley also points out that stressed caregivers sometimes subsist largely on coffee, soda and cigarettes to stay alert, and these substances elevate adrenaline and suppress appetite.

Ultimately, I believe prolonged stress and anxiety may have a tendency to skew our view concerning the accuracy of our nutrition recall.

In my own weight management practice, I can say with certainty that most individuals have very poor recall of exactly what and how they have eaten, over the course of several days, a week or a month, if they dont journal their food intake.

Does Sciatica Make You Swell

Can stress cause weight loss?

How does sciatica cause your ankle to swell and you get blisters? A sciatica that develops as a result of a herniated disk, spinal stenosis, or bone spur can cause swelling in the affected leg as a result of inflammation. Swelling of the leg can also occur as a result of complications of piriformis syndrome.

The Risks Of Chronic Stress

The causes of these linkages are unknown, but it is possible that chronic stress can lead to increased inflammation and damage to the blood vessels, which could cause heart problems. While more research is needed to confirm the connection, it is critical that you become aware of the risks and take steps to reduce stress if you experience any of these symptoms. Chronic stress can have a negative impact on your health, with sciatica being one of the most common causes of stress-related health problems. There is no known cause of this condition, but stress may have triggered it. As a result, you should be aware of the risks and take steps to manage your stress levels if you have any of the following symptoms: hypertension, heart disease, obesity, or stroke. If youre experiencing any of these issues, you should consult your doctor to determine if stress is a contributing factor.

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Easy Foods To Keep Around

Look for mood-boosting foods that dont require cooking or heating, such as:

  • pretzels and whole-grain crackers
  • dried, fresh, or frozen fruit
  • pre-made wraps or burritos
  • bottled whole juices, smoothies, or yogurt drinks
  • pre-sliced or individually wrapped cheeses

Even if youd rather avoid prepackaged or individually wrapped items that contribute to excess waste, these conveniences can make it easier to take care of yourself. Making the best choice for your health and wellness is nothing to feel guilty about.

Finally, dont get too caught up in making sure everything is healthy and nutritious. Its always better to eat something over nothing, and theres nothing wrong with occasionally treating yourself to something special.

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