The terms ‘stress‘ and ‘anxiety’ are related to feelings of fear and dread. These emotions can be felt by individuals in several instances at different points in their lives. However, in certain cases, fear or nervousness seems to persist. This leads to all the evils associated with stress and weight gain. 

Cortisol or the stress hormone is released during instances of intense fear when the body prepares itself to either face the situation and fight it or to find ways of escaping that situation.

The cortisol leads to several changes in our body such as an increased level of insulin, slowing down the process of digestion, reducing the rate of metabolism, etc. Cortisol weight gain is the result of a series of occurrences inside our body. 

Cortisol and weight gain: How does it work?

Stress and weight gain

The stress hormone is released when our body is in dire need of energy during a crisis. Cortisol, formed by the adrenal glands provides our body with the exact amount of energy that we need during such an instance. The energy is released into our system in the form of insulin or glucose. 

This in turn is used for facing the situation and the energy level drops once the intensity of the situation falls and it stabilizes. This is the time when our body yearns for energy in the form of glucose and thus, we tend to look for sweet edibles that are mostly junk, unhealthy and difficult to digest. 

Such circumstances force us to believe that we need food as soon as possible and that all the stored glucose inside our body is over but it is scientifically proven that it’s just an illusion. Our body does not need the excess carbs and fats that we provide it with. 

These excess particles mostly get accumulated around our belly region and lead to the formation of belly fat. Stress-related weight gain is caused by the aforementioned illusion. The frequent or constant secretion of the cortisol hormone leads to persisting stress and thus, an increase in body weight.

The vicious cycle of stress and weight gain continues, giving rise to several other health problems such as diabetes mellitus, heart-related and blood pressure issues. 

Also read: 5 Essential Oils to Beat Anxiety And Stress

Stress and weight gain: How does it harm us further?

  1. Binge eating
Stress-related weight gain

Binge Eating is an issue faced by several individuals these days that leads to stress-related weight gain. During stress, people end up eating too much at one go and that too, unhealthy food. Instead of spending time and effort in laying out proper healthy meals, one ends up having whatever is easily available. This is also due to the laziness caused by stress. 

  1. Feeling lethargic

As mentioned above, the high levels of the cortisol hormone are the reasons for a decreasing rate of metabolism. Work feels like a burden and doing even the slightest amount of work can make one feel fatigued. Thus, people with stress don’t even feel like working out. 

  1. Irregular sleep schedule

The sleep cycle gets distorted due to stress and further leads to stress-related weight gain. According to fitness enthusiasts, sleeping properly is a mandatory requirement for the process of weight loss. The distortion in the schedule tends to worsen the already hampered digestion process and leads to the accumulation of fats in different parts of the body, the belly in particular. This kind of spot accumulation is extremely difficult to get rid of. 

  1. Depression
cortisol weight gain

People don’t talk about mental health as much as they do about physical health and wellness. Stress can lead to anxiety and depression in the long run. The jobs that used to be quite mundane for an individual seem unachievable during the depression phase. Depression can also stem from being overweight. 

Anxiety or panic attacks become frequent since the individual is no longer capable of facing any situation without having to worry about it. Such individuals need immediate counseling or therapy. There are several clinically approved ways to eliminate depression from our lives, step by step. 

Recommended reading: What if teen depression is left untreated? 

Here are five ways of reducing stress and weight gain 

Practicing meditation 

cortisol weight gain

Meditation is an excellent way of soothing our mind and rejuvenating our body. Meditation is a method that can go a long way in reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. Following a proper routine and meditating every day can control the levels of cortisol secretion in our body and make us panic less during a crisis. Individuals have to make a conscious effort to stay calm through practice. 

Following a healthy diet – 

Having well-cooked, healthy food is extremely important for dealing with stress and weight gain. The evil of binge eating can be controlled only by consuming healthy meals at definite intervals. The key is to keep consuming small portions at regular time durations without having a long gap between two meals. Having very long gaps can lead to overeating. 

Working out – 

Exercising cannot be done away with when it comes to cortisol weight gain. Working out acts as a catalyst in the process of weight loss and has to be incorporated along with a healthy diet. Spot reduction exercises need to be done regularly to reduce belly fat. The desired results can be achieved only through consistency. 

Also, read: Perform Yoga For Weight Loss: 5 Effective Yoga Poses For Losing Weight

Cutting down on caffeine – 

Stress-related weight gain

Coffee lovers are going to find this quite difficult to follow but it has to be done if stress levels need to be kept in check. Caffeine hampers the sleep schedule and that is an absolute no-no during such instances. Coffee can be replaced by other healthy drinks such as green tea, lemonade, etc. 

Spending quality time with loved ones – 

Stress and anxiety can be curbed by getting the support of loved ones. What one needs the most during stressful times is the assurance of a loved one. Being around the people who make one happy can contribute a great deal towards one’s mental and physical well-being. 

Stress and weight gain go hand in hand and need to be dealt with, together. It’s true that these can often destroy healthy lifestyles but at the same time, it’s totally possible to come out of these issues with proper discipline.