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Smiling woman prepping her next healthy meal in her kitchen
  • Writer's pictureDr. Jerod Posey

Stress and Weight

Updated: Jul 27, 2022

Bottom Line:

A recent research study found over 75% of people experience at least moderate stress daily! Chronic stress is not fun, but did you know it can also affect your weight? When stressed, your body goes into survival (or “fight or flight”) mode, which changes your hormonal balance. You don’t need to run from a saber tooth tiger to enter fight or flight mode. Even everyday events like traffic and stress at work can cause you to have that physiological response.

Why it Matters:

Recent research suggests that chronic stress can result in:

  • high blood pressure

  • changes in your brain

  • weight gain

When you are stressed out, it is more likely that you will over-eat and less likely to get enough sleep and exercise. Stress causes your body to release Cortisol, a hormone that can produce a build-up of fatty tissue and cause weight gain. Cortisol increases both your appetite and the amount of fat the body stores. By recognizing your stressors and engaging in a few simple relaxation techniques, you can learn to reduce your body’s natural stress response.

  • The hormone Cortisol is released in response to stress and increases your blood sugar.

  • Chronic stress can lead to elevated cortisol levels.

  • An association has been found between increased cortisol levels and obesity.

Next Steps:

Relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, or even simple breathing exercises can help your body counter the stress response. Also, exercise has been shown to decrease stress levels substantially. The next time you feel stressed, take a moment to breathe a few deep breaths and try to get some exercise into your schedule that day. Not only will you feel better mentally, but your body will be able to reduce the amount of Cortisol produced, limiting your body’s fat storage and helping curb any thoughts of over-eating. Staying fit and trim does start in your head!

Science Source(s): Hair Cortisol and Adiposity in a Population‐Based Sample of 2,527 Men and Women Aged 54 to 87 Years. Obesity 2017

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