Stress hormones generate hunger pangs and you tend to feed yourself without choosing what food is good for your body. Having burgers, packets of chips and other processed foods adds on a lot of calories to your body.
It is common to eat a lot under stress and women are more prone to consume it in excess compared to men. However, it may not always be the same. There are people who do not overeat under stress yet tend to put on a lot of weight.
The article here deals with how stress causes weight gain without eating in excess.
There are a lot of hormonal changes when a person is under stress. The chemical reactions in a body produce adrenaline, corticotropin and cortisol hormones also known as stress hormones. These hormones prepare the body for any threat or unseen situations. After the body faces the situation of flight or fight it needs food.
The level of cortisol hormones rises and the body feels weak and fatigued. Elevated levels of cortisol increases the craving for sugary and fatty foods. Once you start eating such foods it is not easy to get rid of it. The eating habit causes heart problems, diabetes, hypertension and many other health risks.
Under stress the person becomes anxious and eats in excess. Eating mindlessly makes you eat more without any satisfaction. All these occur due to excess secretion of cortisol hormones. These hormones affect metabolism and determine the energy burned by the muscles under stress. If glucose, cortisol and insulin do not work in harmony there is an increase in level of stress hormones.
This helps in fueling the brain and the body when food is not available. Chronic stress leads to more production of cortisol and this causes insulin resistance, raises blood sugar level and increases the fat deposits in different parts of the body.
Excess level of cortisol hormone causes symptoms such as weight gain, fatigue, low energy etc. When the body is under stress there is a high tendency of gaining weight even if you do not eat a lot. All these occur due to changes in the hormones. This happens mostly in chronic stress situations.
The body defends itself and thus retains the body weight. No matter if you eat good and exercise, the body still gains weight as the body tries to prepare itself against unseen situations. The relation between the cortisol and insulin causes weight gain without overeating.
Relation between stress and weight gain
The stress hormone ‘cortisol’ is important to maintain psychological health in stressful conditions. It prepares the body for flight and fight conditions and immediately increases the level of glucose. As discussed above glucose is used as energy to run from the stressful situation.
Changes in the body during starvation
In this modern fast-paced world there is a lot of stress in everyday life. There are times when you starve while you are busy working. In such situations the hormone cortisol, glucose and insulin work together to maintain the level of blood sugar level but with prolonged absence of food the blood sugar level drops and there is more production of stress hormones. So, when you starve the body uses fats and amino acids and glucose from the liver. This supplies the body with necessary fuel.
When stress continues for a long period of time it leads to weight gain. Studies have shown that high levels of cortisol is a reason for abdominal fats in the patients suffering from Cushing’s disease and also for overall weight gain.
Even if you eat less or exercise a lot the elevated level of cortisol causes weight gain without overeating. Excess level of cortisol increases the ratio of waist to height and abnormal fat deposition on the body.
How to deal with stress and weight gain
Getting sufficient sleep helps in relieving stress as it decreases the level of cortisol. It is an effective way to lower the level of stress.
Weight gain results from stress even if you are not overeating. This occurs due to the relationship between the insulin and cortisol. Chronic stress results in the cortisol to mobilize energy which is then stored by the insulin as a fat. Thus, prolonged stress causes weight gain no matter how much you eat.