The Takeaway: Take Care Of Yourself
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.
Stress Makes It Difficult To Stay Active
While its possible to lose some weight simply by eating a healthier diet, staying active is usually essential for weight maintenance, feeling fully confident in your body, and maintaining overall health as you age. Because stress increases inflammation and weakens the immune system, it can also contribute to symptoms that interfere with sustaining an active lifestylelike lack of energy, slowedworkout recovery, frequent illness, and the development of pain, soreness and/or stiffness in your muscles and joints
Explore The Issue More Deeply
Now that your client has admitted that stress is a problem generally, youll want to ask a few questions to help your client make the connection between stress and fat loss.
- Use open-ended questions that help your client investigate possibilities.
- Listen to and affirm whatever your client has to say.
- Ask for permission to fill in any holes in your clients understanding.
- Include your client in the solution.
The conversation might go like this:
|Coach: Crazy question: You mentioned how stressed you are. Are there any ways it might be affecting your weight or your eating? What are you noticing?|
|Client: I dont know. Usually? I eat out more when Im stressed because I just dont have time to cook.|
|Coach: Thats great that youve noticed that. Youre spot on. Funny enough, there are lots of other ways that stress affects body weight too. Are you okay if I share those with you?|
|Coach: Well, you already mentioned that it can lead you to eat differently. But lots of people dont know that stress can also drain your muscles of energy, leaving you feeling tired and achy. And it can also slow metabolism and interfere with sleep. What do you make of all of that? Does any of that seem like it might apply to your situation?|
|Client: Yeah, yeah. I think youre onto something. That might be it.|
|Coach: How do you want to approach this? Is this something that you want to address now? Or do you want to set it aside for a bit and see if we can do other things first?|
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Cortisol Can Lead To Weight Gain
Cortisol stimulates your fat and carbohydrate metabolism, creating a surge of energy in your body. While this process is essential for survival situations, it also increases your appetite. Additionally, elevated cortisol levels can cause cravings for sweet, fatty and salty foods. This means youre more likely to indulge in french fries and a milkshake than you are a well-balanced meal.
An excess of cortisol also can lead your body to produce less testosterone. This may cause a decrease in muscle mass, as well as slow down how many calories your body burns.
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.
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Stress And Weight Loss/weight Gain
Stress hormones can counteract the feel-good effects of neurotransmitters like serotonin and GABA. Because of that, the food you eat wont have the same pleasurable feelings, nor will it satiate you as much as it normally would.
In other words, when your stress hormone balance is out of whack, appetite regulation will be too. Your body will also be prone to storing excess calories/nutrients as body fat for long-term energy reserves.
The impact stress has on a person’s eating habits can lead to unintended weight loss or weight gain. So, what can be done to remedy this problem and avoid stress-related weight loss/weight gain?
Easy Calories Low Motivation
In both of the studies, people self-reported their weight, and the researchers didnt collect any information about physical activity. But, one can cautiously assume that most of the weight changes were due to people gaining or losing body fat.
So why did people gain or lose weight this last year? And what explains the dramatic differences?
Many people find comfort in high-calorie food. That is because chocolate and other sweets can make you happy by boosting serotonin levels in the short term. However, the blood clears the extra sugar very quickly, so the mental boost is extremely short-lived, leading people to eat more. Eating for comfort can be a natural response to stress, but when combined with the lower motivation to exercise and consumption of low-nutrient, calorie-dense food, stress can result in unwanted weight gain.
What about weight loss? In a nutshell, the brain is connected to the gut through a two-way communication system called the vagus nerve. When you are stressed, your body inhibits the signals that travel through the vagus nerve and slows down the digestive process. When this happens, people experience fullness.
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Can You Lose Weight Because Of Stress
There is some debate over whether stress can cause weight gain or loss. It seems logical that if you are stressed, you might lose your appetite and lose weight as a result. This is true in some cases, but not all. It is possible to gain weight when you are under stress because of the way cortisol affects the body. Cortisol causes an increase in belly fat and makes it harder to lose weight. So, how does your weight reduce when stressed?
The key is to find ways to manage your stress so that it does not have such a negative impact on your health and your waistline. Some ideas include:
Taking a walk outdoors
Yoga or meditation
Watching a movie or playing with your pet
Talk to friends and family about what is going on so you dont have to keep it all bottled up inside.
These are just a few ideas, but many things can help relieve stress so that steroid hormones go back down again.
Production Of Stress Hormones
When you have anxiety or stress, your body goes into a mode of fight or flight. This mode is also referred to as acute stress response, and it is your bodys way of responding to the thing causing you stress or anxiety. When it is in this state, your body produces adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones help you react and stay alert during stressful, dangerous, or unknown situations. The problem with these hormones is that they come with side effects.
Adrenaline prepares your body for a vigorous physical activity like running away or fighting. This hormone also reduces your appetite . When you dont have an appetite, you will consume fewer calories than your body needs and will help promote weight loss. Adrenaline also causes a faster heartbeat and breathing, and this helps burn more calories.
On the other hand, cortisol is responsible for minimizing some body functions that may seem unnecessary during a stressful occurrence. Some of the body functions that are usually suppressed are digestive, reproductive, and immune function, among others. When digestion is stopped or minimized, it means your body is not absorbing nutrients and might be discarded as waste. This could lead to weight loss since you are not able to digest and absorb food, hence creating a calorie deficit.
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Journal To Reduce Stress
Sometimes we cant do much about the situations that cause us stress. Life is not always in our hands.
However, we can find positive ways to manage our emotions and thought patterns.
The constant run of thoughts and worries in our mind leads to chronic stress and high levels of cortisol. Sometimes writing down your thoughts and documenting your feelings can be a way to stop you always overthinking about things.
Grab a notebook and spend 10 minutes each night writing down any worries you have as well as all the positive things that are happening in life.
The Importance Of Sleep And Exercise For Stress Management
In several experimental studies, short-term sleep deprivation led to increased calorie intake and weight gain.
This may be because of changes in the appetite-regulating hormones leptin and ghrelin, and a greater intake of high-calorie foods and sugar-sweetened beverages. Most adults should aim to get seven hours or more of sleep each night, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention .
Exercise helps lower stress levels and may help decrease symptoms of anxiety, according to a systematic review of randomized clinical trials published in August 2015 in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine.
But the benefits of moving regularly dont end there. Exercise can have direct effects on weight by helping burn calories and increasing lean muscle mass, which helps with weight control, says Chao. Regular exercise can help improve your physiological toughness when facing stress. Exercise can lead to beneficial adaptations in the stress response system that improve how your body reacts to future physiological stressors, which may result in the body being more efficient at coping with psychological stressors.
Exercising regularly can also help you more rapidly recover from stressors and decrease negative feelings following a stressor. This lessens the overall wear and tear that the stressors have on the body, says Chao.
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Get To The Root Of The Problem
While all of these tips will help you fight off weight loss from stress, you must get to the root of your stress. Usually, to be stressed out long enough to cause stress weight loss, something has to be having a pretty big impact on your life.
Is it a long term project for work? A new living situation? An unhealthy relationship? Constantly having too much on your plate?
Whatever it is, identify it, and start working on how you can make it less intense. Remember, while some stress in life is inevitable, you dont have to be stressed all the time, and its always okay to ask for help.
If the tips above and other lifestyle changes and stress management methods dont help, it might be time to consider other potential causes of weight loss.
Neda Shamsdiba is a freelance writer with a background in environmental science. She uses her words to support the personal growth and elevation in consciousness in herself and others. As an avid explorer and citizen of the world, shes always looking for the next adventure.
Stress Anxiety And Weight Loss: Role Of The Endocrine System
Cortisol , glucagon, and adrenaline are the primary stress hormones in humans. These hormones are largely regulated by internal and external stressors that evoke a response from the nervous system.
However, not all stress is inherently bad. Stress is a necessary part of life, and certain stressful events may actually feel great . The “bad” stress we experience is more appropriately called distress.
Likewise, anxiety is not synonymous with stress they are related but not the same. Anxiety is a fear or apprehension of future events, and distress often results from that. Therefore, anxiety is a cause of stress.
Below, we’ll take a brief look at how stress hormones and anxiety affect weight loss.
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Are There Other Ways Stress Leads To Weight Gain
Yes. Not only can stress influence your cortisol levels, but not managing it can also lead to other unhealthy behaviors that can also lead to weight gain. Here are a few:
Eating food can be a way to soothe difficult emotions for some, which, like in every rom-com, might be why you’re more tempted to eat ice cream after a breakup or an argument with your partner. That’s because of the dopamine hit, or pleasurable feeling, we get from eating palatable, high-calorie foods, Dr. Youdim says. “When weâre stressed or when we have difficult emotions or an emotional, psychological void, we search for ways to feel pleasure.”
But emotional eating can lead to unhealthy eating habits, like snacking at odd hours when you normally wouldn’t, or eating a lot more of foods that are high in calories and low in nutrition. Those unhealthy eating habits can then lead to weight gain.
Binge eating is a disorder in which a person eats an unusually large amount of food in one sitting in order to deal with negative emotions. It goes beyond the common kind of emotional eating mentioned aboveâpeople who binge eat may also feel guilt and shame for their behavior, or feel like they have a lack of control. While it can certainly lead to weight gain, binge eating can also have detrimental mental health effects. If this is something you’re experiencing, it’s best to see a doctor who can help you determine the best course of action.
Eating fast food
Drinking more alcohol
Stress Causes Gastrointestinal Distress
Another thing that causes one to lose weight is distress in the gastrointestinal system. Stress affects most of the parts of the GI system. It causes symptoms like :
- Abdominal pain
- Feeling of nausea and vomiting
- Pain while swallowing food
All the symptoms shown above will affect a persons eating habits and may result in them eating less. This would then result in weight loss since it creates a calorie deficit.
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Can Depression And Stress Cause Weight Loss
Some people lose weight when they go through a stressful period in their lives. While it can be difficult to lose weight if youre already underweight, some people lose more than others after going through a stressful time. If you arent overweight and your doctor says that your low body weight is due to stress, try not to lose any more weight.
If you are underweight, your doctor will likely recommend that you gain back some of the weight before thinking about losing any more.
How Much Weight Loss Happens Under Stress
Stress can lead to quick weight loss due to increased energy consumption and decreased intake of food. An individual under stress can easily lose upto 10 to 15 percent of overall body weight. The percentage of weight loss is higher in people who are heavier. Also, stress related weight loss can happen all of a sudden and one can notice shrunken face and dangling shirts within a short span of time.
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What Exactly Is A Stress Belly
Basically, stress belly is not a medical diagnosis, its a way of describing how stress and stress hormones can affect your weight, especially your belly. For instance, higher levels of cortisol – the primary stress hormone – have been associated with abdominal obesity. This crucial hormone produced in the adrenal gland also helps with blood sugar control, metabolism and many other functions in the body. Cortisol, along with other hormones like adrenaline, is a part of the bodys fight or flight response that occurs when faced with a crisis. During a stressful event, cortisol levels rise to give you a surge of energy to help you deal with the event. And once the stress is addressed, everything returns to normal.
What Are Some Stress Management Techniques
While theres no way to completely avoid stressful situations in life, you can learn how to manage them better by practicing certain techniques:
Yoga and meditation can be extremely helpful in reducing stress levels.
Exercise is another great way to reduce the effects of stress. Not only does it keep cortisol levels low, but it also releases endorphins that make you feel better overall!
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Can Anxiety Cause Rapid Weight Loss
There is a lot of information out there on how to lose weight, but when you are stressed, it can be difficult to know where to start. Its important to focus on healthy eating habits and exercise when trying to lose weight, but its also crucial to find ways to manage your stress. When youre stressed, its easy to turn to unhealthy foods as a way of coping, which can lead to weight gain. If youre looking for tips on how to weight reduction when stressed, read on!
Make time for yourself: One of the best things you can do when youre feeling overwhelmed or stressed is take some time for yourself. This could mean taking a relaxing bath, reading your favorite book, or taking a walk outdoors. When you take some time for yourself, youll be able to calm down and focus on your own needs.
Eliminate unhealthy foods: It can be tough to make healthy choices when youre feeling stressed, but its important to try to eliminate unhealthy foods from your diet. If you have trouble saying no to junk food, keep unhealthy snacks out of the house so you wont be tempted to eat them. Instead, fill your kitchen with healthy options like fresh fruits and vegetables, whole-grain bread and pasta, and lean protein sources.
Managing stress is key when trying to lose weight, and by following these tips, youll be on your way to reaching your goals!
In What Other Ways Can Stress Cause Weight Gain And Bloating
Here are a couple of other ways stress adds to your weight:
Chronic stress makes it harder to sleep well, which also spikes your cortisol levels. Lack of sleep triggers excess hunger as your body tries to make up for lack of energy.
Cortisol also tends to make the fat cells gather around the belly and midsection. So even if youre not eating that bad, fat goes right to this problem area.
In other words: with stress weight, you gain a belly.
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