You’ve spent a couple of weeks being stressed, and then you notice that the stress is doing more than mentally draining you. You’ve also gained few pounds.
The culprit might be a phenomenon known as stress weight gain. This article will discuss how stress causes weight gain and tips on how to stop gaining extra pounds when you’re stressed.
The Connection Between Stress & Weight Gain
Stress has been known to increase the stress hormone cortisol. This hormone tends to rise when the body is under tension, and as a result, you might turn to unhealthy habits like overeating.
This hormone will then cause the body to develop higher insulin levels, which causes your blood sugar levels to drop significantly. This makes the body to crave comfort foods high in sugar and fats. At this state, you don’t realize it until you gain those extra pounds. If it goes unchecked, weight gain may lead to diabetes, stroke, heart disease or high blood pressure.
Secrets to Stop Stress Weight Gain
All is not lost! You can do a couple of things to avoid gaining weight when you are stressed. This should start by countering the stress.
Not only does exercise reduce stress, it also helps to burn those extra calories. Exercising brings tremendous results to the body, heart, metabolism and spirits. Exercise helps to relax, calm, ease depression and fight stress.
In many different studies, exercise has been found to reduce stress and control anxiety disorders among athletes. Exercise also helps to lower blood pressure, reduce blood sugar level and improve cholesterol in the body. Exercise can also slow down aging, prevent the risk of heart attack, control obesity, stroke, depression and breast cancer. It is evident that exercise has tremendous benefits to the body and thus it is a highly recommended remedy.
Meditation has been known to reduce stress for many years. Sitting in a position that helps your mind to focus and stop thinking about negative things mentally frees you from stress. Meditation does not only help to connect the mind and the body, but it is also a kind of mental exercise that leaves the mind very fit.
Mindful exercises such as tai chi and yoga have been found to be excellent when it comes to helping the body avoid being stressed. When the mind and the body are connected and relaxed altogether, it helps clear the mind and fight the comfort food impulses the body may want to develop anytime. So not only are you releasing stress from you mind, but you also avoid weight gain.
3. Avoid Caffeine
When you’re stressed, caffeine increases cortisol levels in the body more than stress itself.
Studies also indicate that caffeine raises catecholamine, the stress hormones, which stimulates cortisol. This pushes up carbohydrates and fat metabolism, and pushes up blood pressure. Blood sugar in the system will increase to feed cells and muscles. The increased demand for sugar by cortisol will make you feel hungry, which encourages you to eat more.
When the body produces this cortisol as a result of drinking coffee when stressed, it promotes weight gain. Cortisol also induces your body to store fats in the abdomen, which may have far disastrous effects. As tempting as it may be, try to avoid caffeine at all costs if you’re feeling stressed out.
4. Get Enough Sleep
It is well known that a lack of sleep increases stress levels, which may even drive you deep into the pit of depression. Getting enough sleep is not only important to your mental health, but your physical health as well. When you’re stressed and aren’t getting enough sleep, it may cause some extra weight gain.
As per the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, lack of sleep causes people to gain extra weight. Researchers have found out that people who lack enough sleep usually burn the same amount of calories as those people who are at a complete rest though they take in about 300 more calories a day.
Interestingly, it takes only about 3,500 calories to gain an extra pound in the body. Before you know it, the extra calories building up as a result of lack of sleep may lead to weight gain.
There are many other ways a lack of sleep leads to weight gain. For example, it causes our bodies to produce ghrelin, which is a hormone that promotes hunger. This will lead to the body to crave more food and it won’t know when to stop eating. Also, when you’re up late at night and can’t sleep, it’s highly likely that you will have an extra snack, which might lead to extra pounds over time. Lastly, during REM sleep (the deepest state of sleep), the body burns more calories. So by not reaching REM sleep, you’re missing out on burning those extra calories.
It is recommended that you have at least 7 hours of sleep every night when you are stressed. You can achieve this when you exercise more during the day and avoid worries.
5. Fix Your Diet
Eat Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.
This may sounds like a buzz word, but eating balanced meals helps regulate your metabolism. A number of studies have been done in the past showing that people who consume larger portions of breakfast lose more calories than those who don’t, and those who do eat even more breakfast lose twice as many pounds than those who don’t.
This is because the ghrelin hormone which tends to increase appetite is lower during the day. People who eat more in the morning have been found to also experience satiety the whole day. Nutritionists have therefore concluded that eating bigger portions of meals in the morning has far more health benefits, and it can be a good strategy for those trying to lose weight.
Therefore a bigger breakfast and a smaller dinner with proteins in between is extremely beneficial. Stop those after dinner stress related snacks and eat a balanced diet with vegetables, fruit, fiber and whole grains.
In conclusion, stress does lead to weight gain, and the only way to avoid gaining weight when stressed is to deal with stress itself. The mechanisms of dealing with the stress are also known to be connected to those of avoiding weight loss.