The Importance of Managing Stress
- Date: 27/06/2020
- By: John Rodgers
Stress can have a noticeable effect on your body! From tight muscles and headaches to feeling
irritated and overwhelmed. Another way your body responds to stress is weight gain or loss and
often this takes time to notice.
Most people feel stressed sometimes and often it is unavoidable. There are many different
causes of stress and it affects everyone differently. It can significantly impact your ability to
maintain a healthy weight and prevent you from losing weight, as it can lead to elevated
cortisol levels, a hormone that stimulates appetite and therefore poor food choices are made and
emotional eating can occur. The result is weight gain and difficulty losing those unwanted
Every time you are stressed, adrenaline and the cortisol are released from your adrenal glands and
glucose (your primary source of energy) is released into your bloodstream to give you the energy
required to escape the stressful situation. Once the situation has subsided, the adrenaline wears
off and your blood sugar spike drops. Cortisol kicks in to replenish your energy stores quickly.
Now the sugar cravings start! Consuming too much sugar results in the body storing it as
abdominal fat. It becomes a vicious circle – get stressed, release cortisol, gain weight, crave more
sugar, eat more sugar, gain more weight. These extra calories consumed in response to cortisol
appear to be deposited around your abdomen stored as fat. Even if you are not eating high fat and
sugar foods, cortisol also slows metabolism making it again, difficult to lose weight!
In addition to hormonal changes related to stress, stress can also drive you to engage in
unhealthy behaviors, all of which can cause you to gain weight. These are:
Emotional eating – you may find that snacking or reaching for a second helping will give you some
temporary relief from your stress.
Eating more fast food – when stressed you are more likely to head to a fast food place rather than
plan and cook a healthy meal. Fast food portions are usually larger which means more calories!
Exercising less – exercise may be the last thing on your mind when stressed or your work
schedule may leave you little time for physical activity.
Skipping meals – when juggling a million things to do at once, eating a healthy meal drops down
your list of priorities or you may find yourself skipping breakfast and choosing an unhealthy
Sleeping less – many people have trouble sleeping when stressed resulting in over tiredness and
reduced willpower which, in turn, contributes to unhealthy eating habits.
As stated above, stress affects people differently and whilst for many stresses means weight gain or
being unable to maintain a healthy weight, for others it can cause unexpected weight loss! This is
due to the loss of desire to eat, so meals are missed, and the result is weight loss.