Can Stress Make You Fat?


Stress is tough on you, both inside and out. The last thing you want to think about is if all that stress at work is thwarting your ability to lose weight, or worse, causing you to gain weight. But unfortunately, this may very well the case.

When you are stressed, your body releases a stress hormone called cortisol. When in truly dangerous situations, this hormone can help us to fight for our lives, or run and escape. But if you are in a high stress situation that is not life or death, then cortisol usually isn’t doing you any favors because it slows down your metabolism. That means that you can gain weight even without changing your diet.

Rises in stress induced cortisol can also cause you to have cravings and lead to emotional eating. But just because you are dealing with stress doesn’t mean you have to lie down and give in to stress related weight gain. Here are three things you can do to prevent stress from sabotaging your diet.

Relax.  Unfortunately, it’s never really that simple, is it? But even if you are on the run all day long, you can find a few minutes to relax. Rest with your eyes closed in your car for five minutes before work. Maybe take a longer shower in the evening before bed. Even something as simple as taking deep breaths can help to calm your body and help you to feel better.

Cut Out Temptation.  If you are the emotional eating type, then the best thing you can do for yourself is to put away (or get rid of) your junk food. If you have a bag of chocolate in your desk drawer, replace it with sweet rice cakes. If you reach for a bag of chips when the day gets rough, then replace them with pita chips. The point is to satisfy your craving with healthier fare so you feel better, inside and out.

Exercise.  Probably the one thing you want to do the least when you’re stressed, but exercising releases endorphins that can help you to feel better physically and happier mentally. Even just a brisk walk around the office can help.

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