Are you stressed?  Today over 73 percent of American’s are stressed.  But, did you know that stress could be the cause of your recent weight gain?  Stress plays a huge role in your everyday life, and it can wreak havoc on your eating habits.  As a result of stress, the balance of hormones in your body changes.  These changes in hormones lead to overeating and weight gain.  Ultimately, stress and weight gain become synonymous.

Medical-weight-loss-nycWhen you become stressed your body releases a hormone called Cortisol from the adrenal glands.  This hormone regulates blood pressure and the body’s use of macronutrients.  It also affects your body’s ability to convert sugars into energy.

Typically, cortisol provides sustained energy.  However, when stress becomes normal an excess of cortisol is created.  Too much cortisol will suppress thyroid function, lower the immune system and can imbalance your blood sugar leading to diabetes.

During high levels of stress, cortisol causes your body to believe it’s starving.  In response, the body becomes resistant to weight loss.  It holds onto fat and stores them for use later.

People also find their appetite is increased when they are under stress.  Often they will find comfort in eating.  Common comfort foods are foods that are sweet or high in salt.  These foods add visceral fat to your abdomen.  The excess cortisol then inhibits your body from burning this fat for energy.  Recent studies show that an increase in stress level is linked to an increase in fat storage in the body and that consequently leads to an increase in weight gain.

It should also be noted that high cortisol levels cause an elevation in your blood glucose and blood pressure and can trigger fatigue.   High levels of cortisol attack muscle mass which slows your metabolism.  Metabolism is the process that converts food into energy.  Slowing your metabolism means that it will take longer to convert the foods you have eaten and will cause a reduction in your energy level.

Stress and weight gain can go hand in hand depending on how you deal with the stress.  To counteract the stress find activities that relax you.  Try taking a walk, talking with friends, writing in a journal.  If you’re experiencing constant stress, or high levels of stress and weight gain you should seek help from your health care professional.

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