How Does Stress Impact Body Weight?

How Does Stress Impact Body Weight?

Obesity is a treatable but very common condition in the United States, and it’s on the rise. In a span of nearly 20 years, from 2000 to 2018, we’ve seen a steady increase of people gaining weight from 30.5% to 42.4% (and an increase in severe weight gain from 4.7% to 9.2%). 

The results from this kind of increase raise the risks of several complications, such as heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and some cancers. Many factors contribute to gaining weight, including poor diet, lack of exercise, and a sedentary lifestyle. But one factor that can also affect whether you get heavier is stress. 

Stress can come in many forms, and it affects the body in different ways, but both stress and obesity can be treated. Let’s look at how stress affects your weight, and what we can do to treat both issues.

If you live in or around Houston, Texas, and you’re struggling with weight problems, Dr. Ranjit Grewal and the knowledgeable and compassionate staff at Houston Family MD can help treat patients of all ages for obesity and many other conditions.

How does stress affect weight?

The feeling of physical or emotional tension that comes with stress is normal, and in small doses it’s tolerable for the body to manage. This generally falls under acute stress, which can range from stopping suddenly in traffic to an unexpected occurrence. 

You’re mostly likely to struggle with chronic stress, which can come from any number of experiences that repeatedly cause you anxiety or concern, like money problems, work issues, or personal problems. Any issues that create chronic stress can be unhealthy, leading to an increase in the stress hormone cortisol

When you’re dealing with stress, your body responds by creating adrenaline and cortisol to provide energy to escape a dangerous situation. This also releases glucose into the bloodstream to create cravings to replenish your body once the stressful situation is done. 

Chronic stress can create a cycle of stress where your body craves more sugar, causing you to gain more weight on a regular basis. Additionally, cortisol can also affect your metabolism, making it harder for you to lose weight.

What can this lead to?

This cycle can cause a number of recurring problems, like:

Emotional eating

Also known as comfort eating, excess cortisol can make you crave unhealthy foods, and in many cases eat more than you should.

Eating ‘accessible’ food

This also makes you less discerning about what you eat, making you more likely to eat fast foods and unhealthy snacks.

Reducing exercise

Chronic stress can come from demanding work or responsibilities, resulting in you having less time to exercise.

Skipping meals

Less time in your schedule can also lead to you eating less, but still make you more likely to eat quick but unhealthy foods.

Sleeping worse

Stress can lower your metabolism, which leads to sleeping less and feeling tired more often during the day.

All of these habits can increase your chances of dealing with heart disease, digestive problems, high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, diabetes, and other chronic conditions.

How can you be treated?

Treating obesity and stress can start with several lifestyle changes:

If you’re still having problems with weight loss, we offer a medical weight loss program that can help you get on track and lose those stubborn pounds. 

Stress and weight are a dangerous combination, but both are treatable, and we’re here to help. If you’re ready to find a path to less stress and less weight, make an appointment with Dr. Grewal and Houston Family MD today.

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