Is Stress Keeping You Overweight?

Feb 11, 2024

The Hidden Culprit in Your Weight Loss Journey

In our fast-paced, always-on world, stress has become a constant companion for many of us. But did you know that it could also be the silent barrier standing between you and your weight loss goals? Yes, stress, often overlooked in the realm of diet and exercise, plays a significant role in our body's ability to shed excess weight.

The Science Behind Stress and Weight Gain

When we're stressed, our bodies go into 'fight or flight' mode, releasing a surge of hormones including adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline temporarily boosts energy levels, preparing us to face the perceived threat, but it's cortisol that lingers, increasing appetite and signaling our bodies to replenish energy even if we haven't expended much.

Cortisol doesn't just make us hungry; it specifically increases cravings for high-fat, sugary ‘comfort foods’. These foods lead to a temporary spike in serotonin, making us feel better and reducing stress momentarily but at the cost of added calories. Moreover, cortisol encourages fat storage, particularly around the abdomen, where it poses the greatest health risks.

Stress and Emotional Eating

Beyond the hormonal impact, stress often triggers emotional eating. We turn to food for comfort, not out of hunger, but as a coping mechanism for dealing with feelings of pressure, anxiety or overwhelm. This habit can sabotage even the most disciplined diet and exercise routines, leading to a frustrating cycle of weight gain and emotional distress.

Breaking the Cycle

The good news is that understanding the connection between stress and weight gain is the first step towards breaking this cycle. Here are some strategies to manage stress and support your weight loss journey:

Mindful Eating: Pay attention to what you eat and why. Are you truly hungry, or are you reaching for snacks out of stress or boredom? Mindfulness can help you make healthier food choices and recognise emotional eating patterns.

Regular Exercise: Physical activity is a powerful stress reliever. Not only does it help burn calories, but it also releases endorphins, the body's natural mood elevators, helping to reduce stress levels.

Quality Sleep: Lack of sleep exacerbates stress and can lead to hormonal imbalances that increase hunger. Prioritise 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night to support your body's natural rhythms and aid in weight management.

Stress Management Techniques: Incorporate practices such as meditation, deep breathing exercises or yoga into your routine to help manage stress levels effectively.

Embracing a Holistic Approach

Weight loss isn't just about diet and exercise; it's about taking a holistic approach to your health, recognising the role of stress, and adopting strategies to manage it effectively. By addressing stress, you're not only paving the way for a healthier, happier you but also removing a significant barrier to achieving your weight loss goals.

Remember, the journey to weight loss is as much about nurturing your mind and emotions as it is about taking care of your body. By tackling stress head-on, you're setting yourself up for success on every front.

Every month, I work with women on my flagship programme, Feel Look Be to help them combat stress, build strong foundations for their mindset, help them lose weight and educate them on topics just like this so they can achieve long standing, sustainable results. 

If you want to find out more about Feel Look Be, check this out >>