Does Stress Affect Weight Loss?

Thursday, Dec 8, 2022 | Activity, Featured, Lifestyle

Oftentimes, people think of weight loss as a formulaic process, without taking into account the fact that it is, instead, a deeply personal and customized trajectory. While there are certain general guidelines that one can follow, a thorough comprehension of the factors governing your body can facilitate the process, leading to better results. One such factor that can greatly impact weight loss is stress.


Table Of Contents

What is stress?
Why does stress impact your weight?
What are the manifestations of stress that affect weight loss?
How can you break this cycle?


What is stress?

Simply put, stress is a completely normal response designed by the human body to tackle situations in which you feel pressurized. This could be a situation that you cannot control or one that makes you feel threatened. However, the way stress operates can potentially obstruct your weight loss journey. Beginning to understand that process can help you combat stress and its consequences.



Why does stress impact your weight?

A basic breakdown of this can be explained by understanding that stress has a very real, physical impact on your body, and can lead to changes in your routine, or overall lifestyle, that can be extremely unhealthy.

The science behind this revolves around the relationship between stress and certain hormones in the human body. Stress triggers the release of cortisol and adrenaline; hormones that allow your body to be prepared for the fight or flight response, or be more alert in general. When you experience stress, the release of these hormones causes glucose to be released into your bloodstream, given that it is your main source of energy.

During this cycle, your blood sugar levels may also be impacted by the two hormones, making the work of insulin more tedious. The subsequent rise in blood sugar levels can trigger changes in weight.

Once the initial situation is tackled or taken care of, cortisol comes into play to restore your supply of energy. Many researchers agree with the fact that rises in cortisol levels can potentially lead to an increase in weight. Frequently experiencing stress correlates to frequently experiencing the triggering of this response. As time passes, this can drastically impact your body.



What are the manifestations of stress that affect weight loss?

The way stress manifests deeply impacts your weight loss journey. Effects like disruption in your sleep cycle, constant fatigue or headaches, constipation, diarrhea, indigestion, heartburn, and chest pain can work in tandem to wreak havoc on your body, given that all of this can, in one way or another, have a drastic impact on your appetite.

When these changes persist, they can lead to erratic patterns, where you begin consuming more junk food or alcohol, start skipping exercises or avoid basic movements, stay up late, thereby disturbing your circadian rhythm, or skip meals haphazardly. You may feel a need to consume more sugar, which is stored as abdominal fat, making it a lot harder to shed. Your metabolic rate can also be affected negatively.

Stress can also trigger emotional eating, or resorting to unhealthy fat food instead of home-cooked meals due to the persisting lethargy that you may continue to feel. All in all, stress can combine multiple unhealthy patterns to derail your weight loss journey.



How can you break this cycle?

As with all unhealthy relationships, a little discipline and a dedication to self-help will go a long way. Internal dialogues and pep talks, alongside the identification of unhealthy patterns, will become pertinent in you tackling stress and the potential, consequent weight gain. Priorities will have to be aligned accordingly as well.

One of the first things you can do is create a schedule that allows you to compartmentalize stress effectively. Working your way toward a healthy routine will not only help in the long run, but will also either help you combat stress, or deal with it in a way that minimally impacts your weight.

If you already know that stress triggers certain patterns, the first thing to do would be to figure out how you can deal with the root cause. The answer won’t always be straightforward. Different people handle stress according to their own capabilities and limitations.

However, stress-relief activities can do a lot more for you than you would have pinned down. Set aside time to do things that help alleviate stress. Read a book, walk barefoot in the grass, start doing some yoga, or simply plug in some music and dance like no one’s watching. Make time for some exercise every day to blow off some steam, and double down on the fact that these are all priorities, not options.

If you’re someone who resorts to stress eating, swap out your unhealthy food for whole foods, or things that will nutritionally benefit you. Not only does this double as a baby step toward weaning you off stress eating, but it’s actually beneficial for your body, to begin with. This will also inculcate the practice of mindful eating, where you’re taking accountability for what you eat, how you eat it, and how it makes you feel. Moreover, you can throw in the practice of eliminating any form of media whilst you eat. This will help you focus better and be more aware of what you’re putting into your body.

During all this, don’t forget that hydration is key. Sometimes, you tend to get mixed up, believing you’re hungry, when you are, in fact, thirsty. Eliminating dehydration from the equation will help you determine if you’re legitimately hungry, and can save you the trouble of eating mindlessly.

Lastly, start maintaining a food journal, in which you can count your calories, log your feelings, and add any additional notes. This, too, creates accountability, while also doubling as a judgment-free friend who is determined to keep you on track. The Healthi app can double as this food journal, where you’re not only counting calories easily but can log in extra details, while also finding articles and healthy recipes that will keep you motivated.



All in all, the understanding that stress is related to fluctuations in weight is key, and once you fully appreciate the impact, you can begin to take the necessary steps toward change.