Stress is one of the major factors that could increase or decrease your weight. How? When the body’s under stress, the brain triggers the release of different hormones. These hormones wreak havoc on your eating habits, making you crave sugary or savory food, increasing or decreasing your appetite.
Some people are so sensitive to stress that even a hint of it will have them craving for chocolates or go on an all-out fast food binge.
How Stress Leads to Weight Gain
When we’re stressed, the body is flooded with stress hormone cortisol and adrenalin as well as corticotrophin releasing hormone (CRH). The cocktail of stress hormones gives the body an instant boost of energy. At first, this results in decreased or zero appetite. But because you don’t spend the extra energy by running or fleeing, you end up getting intense hunger.
You see, from the three stress hormones, cortisol will remain elevated long after the cause of stress has passed. This hormone will increase hunger pangs, making you eat more. High level of cortisol often leads to accumulated fat around the abdominal area.
Too much stress also triggers emotional eating. When there’s an elevated level of cortisol, we tend to crave for carbohydrates. That’s why some people automatically feel better after eating carbs, they turn to food for comfort.
In addition, when we’re stressed out, we tend to make the worst food choices. That’s because all the hormones are making us choose sugary, savory, high-fat food to compensate for our frayed nerves. If you keep making poor food choices, you will end up eating high-calorie foods that you cannot burn off, leading to weight gain.
How Stress Leads to Weight Loss
Most people end up gaining weight because they’re always stressed out. But there are cases wherein individuals got the reversed effect, they lost weight.
When you’re stressed out, you get anxious. And when you’re anxious, you think of a million things at once and you lose focus on basic feelings like hunger. Anxiety leads to unintentional weight loss. It causes you to lose your appetite or feeling of fullness despite not eating all day.
This is why anxious people can skip meals without overeating after. Now, for some people, weight loss is the upside of being stressed out. It’s not. When you start skipping meals and losing excessive amount of weight, your body starts to deteriorate. Your organs won’t work as efficiently, you lose energy, and you will start developing various health and eating disorders.
Managing Stress the Right Way
To prevent unintentional weight gain or weight loss because of stress, you have to learn how to manage the influx of hormones in the body the right way. First, take a break. Give yourself enough time every day to relax. Don’t spend all day in front of your computer. Rather, take a breather every thirty minutes or every hour to clear your head and to flex your legs.
Start eating nutritious, balanced meals and never skip a meal so you don’t overeat. No matter how busy you get, make sure you are eating right.
Finally, exercise regularly. The body has to be in tip top shape to withstand everyday stressors. You want to be at your best every day to perform your tasks efficiently.