Does stress make you gain weight?
Does stress make you gain weight?

Does stress make you gain weight?

Everyday life is full of challenges, opportunities, and setbacks. People respond differently to life issues. It is concerning to know the extent to which people experience stress because of different issues of life. Of greater concern is the link between stress and health-threatening issues including how it makes you weight gain.

When you experience stress, your body produces a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is a steroid hormone that controls a wide range of processes in the body, such as the inflammatory response, metabolism, and immune response. It also plays important role in the body’s response to stress. It is often referred to as the stress hormone because it is released when you are experiencing stress.

Though cortisol plays many important roles in the body, it can become harmful when it is in excessive amounts. It could lead to slowing down bodily functions including your metabolism.

The question about whether excess amounts of cortisol can lead to weight gain remains an issue to be clarified from research evidence. However, there are pointers to how weight gain may result when your body produces a high amount of cortisol due to stress.

How weight gain results from the body’s response to stress

When your body experiences persistent stress, leading to excess cortisol, ghrelin, the hormone that enhances appetite can be stimulated. Also, excess cortisol can reduce the body’s sensitivity to leptin, the hormone that regulates hunger. These actions in your body can increase appetite leading to unnecessary cravings for foods especially high in sugars, fat, and salt.

Reduced metabolism makes you gain weight

When you experience a surge in cortisol level because of stress, your basal metabolism could reduce. This will in turn reduce your body’s ability to utilise energy effectively, thereby resulting in excess calories which your body will store up as fat. More information here. If this situation continues over time, and your food intake does not change neither your activity level, you will inevitably experience weight gain.

Why prevent weight gain from stressful situations

The weight you gain due to a spike in cortisol level often occurs around the abdomen. The fat that accumulates around the waist area can lead to the development of cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes. Beyond weight gain, other health issues including fatigue, depression, high blood pressure, and depressed immune system could result. For these reasons, you need to control your responses to stresses.

Positive responses to stress for preventing weight gain

You can control your response to stressful situations by wilful determination based on what you now know. The following tips will be of immense benefit to you.

  1. Eat healthily. Ensure you eat varied foods and in moderate proportions that would provide your body the right amount of nutrients. When you crave food, eat the right kind of foods such as low-calorie vegetables like cucumber, carrots, etc. Check here for more information
  2. Exercise regularly: Ensure you have not less than 30 minutes of physical activity every day. This may be simply walking to the nearest shops, treadmill, brisk walk, or walking the stairs.
  3. Relaxation: Ensure you give yourself a good time to relax. People have different ways of relaxing such as meditation, warm foam bath, spa treatment, window shopping, listening to soothing music, breathing relaxation, and many more.
  4. Engage in activities that helps you in dissipating negative energy. The use of anti-stress ball is a good example.

Undesirable weight loss due to stress

A stressful situation can also lead to undesirable weight loss through several changes in the body and how the gut digests food. These changes may result in unhealthy situations such as bloating, swallowing difficulty, heartburn, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, constipation, and more. Decreased appetite would naturally follow these situations and consequently loss in body mass to a dangerously low level. Excessive weight loss below the minimum healthy weight (18.5Kg/m2) increases a person’s risk of diseases.


Cortisol is associated with stress; it plays a role in metabolism and links with the hunger hormones. Therefore, it is important to follow a healthy lifestyle to regulate your cortisol level. By improving your diet, engaging in regular exercise as well as finding time for relaxation, you can control your cortisol level to delivering maximum benefits for your body and not the harmful effects.

Leave a Reply