The fast paced world that we live in today, where prices are sky rocketing and there’s less job security, it is difficult to stay completely stress free. With less time on our hands to cook fresh nutritious meals, we tend to rely more and more on pre-cooked foods, take aways and dine ins. This in turn leads to weight gain. With more and more people struggling with their weight and being diagnosed with various life style diseases, it is imperative to understand the relationship between stress, weight loss and weight gain.
There are various ways in which stress plays a major role in your weight gain journey:
- Cortisol and weight gain
Cortisol is also known as the stress or “fight and flight” hormone. Every time one is experiencing stress, the adrenal glands release cortisol. Cortisol slows down the metabolism, increases blood pressure and insulin production. Increased insulin production leads to the lowering of blood sugar, which in turn triggers a carving for fatty and sugary foods.
Acute stress typically leads to the production of the hormone adrenaline. Adrenaline in turn decreases one’s appetite in the short term. However, during prolonged chronic stress, the effect of adrenaline gets negated by the effect of cortisol, which urges your brain to send a signal to eat.
- Sleep deprivation
Stress can lead to disturbed sleep or poor quality of sleep. Sleep deprivation has been shown to affect the production of the hormone leptin, which is the satiety hormone and tells our barin to stop eating. On the other hand, insufficient sleep also increases the hormone ghrelin that is responsible for the feeling of hunger, so one may tend to overeat.
- Mental health
Emotional eating is a well-documented psychological term associated with eating foods to bring about a feeling of happiness without a physiological need of the body for energy. A person who is stressed and depressed is more prone to indulge in emotional eating, especially of so-called comfort foods like chocolates, chips, etc.
On the flip side, prolonged stress and depression causes feelings of lethargy, anxiety, weakness, etc; all of which make it difficult for one to eat balanced meals, exercise and low self-esteem. As a combined effect, a person tends to gain weight.
- Skipping meals
On stressful days it is quite easy to skip meals. Unfortunately one does not lose weight by skipping meals. This is because skipping a meal can make one so hungry later on that one tends to eat whatever is easily available in the least amount of time, for eg: fast foods, etc. If this happens repeatedly, it will lead to weight gain.