There are several ways in which stress can contribute to weight gain. One has to do with cortisol, a stress hormone released by the adrenal glands. When we’re under stress, the fight or flight response is triggered in our bodies, leading to the release of various hormones.
Whether we’re stressed because of constant, crazy demands at work or some other reason, our bodies respond like we’re about to be harmed and need to fight for our lives. To answer this need, we experience a burst of energy, shifts in metabolism and blood flow, and increase in blood cortisol levels.
If you remain in this state for a prolonged amount of time due to chronic stress, your health becomes at risk. Aside from increasing blood pressure, chronic stress can also cause weight gain by over-eating.
People experiencing chronic stress tend to crave more fatty, salty and sugary foods. This includes sweets, processed food and other things that aren’t as good for you. These foods are typically less healthy and lead to increased weight gain.
Prolonged stress can alter your blood sugar levels, causing mood swings, fatigue, and conditions like hyperglycemia. Too much stress has even been linked to metabolic syndrome, a cluster of health concerns that can lead to greater health problems, like heart attacks and diabetes.
Excessive stress even affects where we tend to store fat. Higher levels of stress are linked to greater levels of abdominal fat. Unfortunately, abdominal fat is not only undesirable; it’s linked with greater health risks than fat stored in other areas of the body.
As a weight loss physician, I treat stress through behavioral modification, nutrition, personalized exercise programs and when necessary, medication. My approach distinguishes Health Smart Weight loss from all other programs.