Does Stress Make You Gain Weight?
It’s no doubt that almost all of us are bound to run into occasional stress. We all lead very busy lives, and trying to fit everything in can make our heads spin. But stress that is chronic can become our worst enemy. Long term stress not only runs us down and increases our chances for catching illnesses or diseases, it can also do quite a number on our waistline.
Whenever the body is under stress it taps into our “fight or flight” mechanism. This is ideal when we need to fight or flee so that we may move quickly in the face of danger. The three major stress hormones are the steroids: adrenaline, cortisol and norepinephrine. When a stressful situation arises these hormones get your heart and brain racing and your body in motion. Your body goes into motion because the hormones push you into action by grabbing fat and glucose for energy and shunting them to the heart, brain and twitching muscles. That also mean the blood is pulled away from skin, kidneys and stomach.
Stress prompts the adrenal glands to release fight or flight hormones to prepare the body for an emergency situation, and part of that preparation includes storing more fat for future energy needs. Studies have shown that the hormone cortisol increases fat deposits in the worst possible place: the belly. Unfortunately, belly fat is the worst location because the higher your waist-to-hip ratio, the higher your risk is for overfat related diseases.
After you have released the stress hormones to “fight or flee” you deplete your glucose stores and your fat stores that are easily accessible. Once you are relaxed again, the body feels ravenously hungry! Also, stress causes our bodies to produce more insulin, which causes greater fat storage. A recent study also shows that women in particular may eat more fat after a stressful situation, and they may crave more fat in their diet.
On occasional over-indulgence that is stress related should not cause you worry. The problem arises when our busy lifestyles and short tempers cause us long-term or chronic stress. If you allow the littlest of things to get to you, your body is releasing these stress hormones much too often, and that can be dangerous to your health over time.