Is Stress Causing You to Gain Weight?

by Anna D

What is Stress?

Stress is a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances.

How Stress can make you gain weight

When we are stressed our bodies create the stress hormone cortisol which encourages the body to release calories, fat and energy into the bloodstream to help us fight the stress, when our stress is chronic and never lets up , endless work deadlines or family pressures that never relent,  excess cortisol leads to two fat-promoting chain reactions.  First, too much cortisol in the system signals the body to store fat around the belly area and second, it leads to sugar and fat craving, that is why we  usually choose junk or “comfort” food such as chocolate or chips.  Stress is  definitely an important component in the weight loss equation 🙂

How to know if you are stressed

Do you turn more and more to sugar and stimulants such as coffee as a “fix” for flagging energy?  Is your sleep and energy not what it used to be? Has your waist size been slowly thickening over the last decade?  Do you have difficulty finding time to relax and put your feet up? Do you crave chocolates, biscuits, sweets and /or chips during times of stress? Sounds familiar?  We all go through stressful times but,  with proper diet and exercise it gets much easier to handle stress.  Read on to find out how!


How to De-Stress

Mind the junk  Avoid white carbohydrates, sugar, junk food  and TOO MUCH fruit, nothing in excess is good for you 🙂

Protein power  Eat your protein at every meal!  This includes food such as turkey, chicken, yogurt,  cottage cheese which encourage the production of serotonin, the brain’s feelgood, stress fighting chemical.

Eat walnuts  These contain a substance called uridine, which works like a natural anti-depressant. Try a small handful between meals to keep your blood sugar stable.  Other great de-stress snacks include almonds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds.

Celery stress relief If stress is keeping you awake, a few sticks of celery could help.  Celery contains relaxing compounds that help inhibit the release of stress hormones into the blood stream.  Try it with some sugar-free peanut butter for the perfect de-stressing bedtime snack, one of my favorite snacks! it tastes really good too!


Sleep it off

You need never feel guilty about a Saturday lie-in again.  Without proper sleep we can’t process insulin, a hormone which delivers nutrition to muscles and cells, Like cortisol, excess insulin in the system can lead to excess fat.

Slow Your Breath

No time to slow down your life? Slow down your breath instead.  Just five deep, long breaths in 30 seconds can calm you down. Slow breathing reduces stress fast, and this can help keep cravings at bay,  Your breathing patterns show how stressed you are.  Sit quietly and count how many breaths you take in a minute. If you take more than 15, you are probably worked up and in cortisol overload.  Practice slowing your breathing a few minutes daily until you can take ten long, slow breaths in one minute. One way to practice this, is at cool down, at bootcamp after your workout, try doing this while relaxing your mind and body.



Find Non-Food Soothers

If you crave junk in stressful situations, try finding ways ways to soothe yourself that don’t involve food.  Keep a food diary,  Write down what you eat and when, plus how you felt, in terms of the specific stressful feeling such as pressure, anger, disappointment or frustration. This will help you identify the exact type of stress or pressure that leads you to overeat. Find other ways to soothe such feelings such as talking things out with a friend or partner, writing in a journal, having a warm bath and/or meditating ,these last two work well for me 🙂



Get Moving!

Studies show that 25 or more minutes of physical activity daily, can help reduce levels of cortisol in the blood stream.  Exercise not only actively lowers cortisol levels, it also acts like a natural anti-depressant for the brain. Just think how you feel after working out? Next time you want junk food, try to remember that feeling you get after your workout! It works 🙂


Hope this post  helps you even a little bit on Stress Management, Have a fun and Relaxing Sunday Transformers! 😉

Ale Adaui

TFX Coach

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