How to Lose Stress Weight – Stress, Cortisol and Weight Gain Explained

How to Lose Stress Weight – Can stress cause weight gain? Yes! It definitely can! If you have been wondering why your weight loss diet and exercise regimen don’t seem to be giving the result you want, have you checked your stress levels?

Gaining weight isn’t always about an unhealthy diet and some bad habits. So, if you know how to improve your diet and exercise to lose weight, you should also know how to lose stress weight.

Talking about stress weight, what is it all about? How does it happen? How is it possible to gain more pounds when stressed out? All these questions have answers in human physiology. So, the best way to understand the stress weight concept is to know the process your body passes through under stress.

I wouldn’t make this sound too abstract for you. So, the explanation will be made in the simplest possible language. The first thing to note is a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is also known as the stress hormone. The secretion of this hormone spikes during times of stress.

Now, what influence does cortisol rise have on your body fat? And how will you beat down the cortisol rush to watch your weight?



How Stress and Cortisol Cause Weight Gain

Cortisol is not totally bad in your body. When secreted in moderation, this hormone regulates energy production, fat tissue growth and even modulate your appetite. However, elevated cortisol levels overtime causes weight gain and makes it difficult to shed pounds.

Increased cortisol leads to an increase in blood sugar levels. And when this happens, you’ve got to deal with a ravaging craving for sugar.

At the point, you find yourself wishing for highly processed and high in fat, sugar, and salt. Ice cream, chocolate, pizza, burgers will be the other of the day for a stressed soul because of cortisol spikes.

In cases of excessive pumping out of cortisol when you are stressed, testosterone secretion drops too. This hormone is responsible for muscle-building which means that this drop may cause a decrease in your muscle mass, so you burn fewer calories.

With that, losing weight becomes quite difficult.

Cortisol also facilitates body fat storage. To make matters worse, cortisol spikes cause the build-up of visceral fat, which may raise cholesterol and insulin levels, a risk factor of heart disease and diabetes.

You don’t have to worry when your diet and exercises seem ineffective for weight. All you might have to do is to work on how to lose stress weight. So how will you do that? Here are some useful tips for you.


How to Lose Stress Weight


1. Get Enough Sleep

One of the easy ways to rid yourself of stress-induced weight ensures that you improve your sleep hygiene. Too much stress causes insomnia. Staying awake into the night may result in unnecessary cravings for junk foods.

Also, lack of sleep causes an imbalance of appetite hormones, ghrelin, and leptin. Adequate sleep will stabilize your hormones and put your cravings in check.


2. Reduce or Eliminate the Source of Stress

If your weight gain is stress-induced, you will have to identify all the sources of stress and reduce or do away with them completely. It might be difficult for you to identify specifically the cause of stress.

In case you aren’t sure of your stress source, here is a checklist for you!

  • Physical stress – excessive exercise, lack of sleep, overload at work, etc.
  • Emotional stress – emotional trauma, divorce…
  • Social stress – peer pressure, the tension in relationships, difficulty with relationships at work, etc.
  • Environmental stress
  • Health-related stress – high blood pressure, metabolic disease, high cholesterol, hormone imbalances, nutrient deficiencies, history of depression/anxiety, etc.

You’ve got to be lenient on yourself and find means to manage stress effectively to lose weight. Enjoy every moment, be at peace with your soul and spend more time with loved ones.


Related: 7 Best Yoga for Back Pain Relief – (And How I Avoided the Scalpel)


3. Exercise But Don’t Overdo It



Exercise is also an amazing way to reduce stress. It decreases cortisol and releases endorphins and other chemicals that boost your mood. It must, however, be noted that exercises must be done in moderation because over-exercising can temporarily raise cortisol levels.

The best exercises to relieve stress, stabilize hormonal secretion and lose weight are low-intensity exercises and yoga. Yoga exercise brings peace and calms to your soul.


4. Slow Down on Calorie Restriction

Don’t be surprised! I know you must have heard that restricting your calories is the surest way to lose weight. But that works well if you are overweight because of unhealthy diets.

With stress-induced weight, it doesn’t work like that. Caloric restriction causes metabolic damage, increases cortisol and causes changes to thyroid function.

It is important to consume nutrient-rich meals that will provide the body with sufficient energy. Your goal should be to provide your body with real whole foods that provide your body with the building blocks for energy production.


5. Avoid Caffeine and Stimulants



Combining a high-stress level with a punch of caffeine isn’t the best thing to keep weight off. Taking caffeine when you are under stress increases cortisol levels.  This will further lead to stress eating and then weight gain.

Although many people believe that caffeine (and other stimulants) may lead to weight loss. But for you to deal with weight gain caused by high-stress levels, you may need to cut the habit of taking caffeine to make a difference.


6. Pile up Nutrients in Your Meals



Deficiencies in certain nutrients like  B vitamins, vitamin C, calcium, and magnesium are stressful to your body. And these deficiencies lead to increased cortisol levels and food cravings.

You can only get yourself back on the track by eating meals that are high in these nutrients. Eat fruits and veggies for the supply of vitamin C; low-fat yogurt, which contains calcium and magnesium; and a whole grain bagel or toast with a bit of peanut butter.

Whole grains are bursting with B vitamins, while peanut butter contains fatty acids that can decrease the production of stress hormones.

As you can see, high-stress levels and cortisol spikes could also be a possible reason for your weight. Don’t blame it all on exercises and poor diet, you might probably need to slow things down and watch your cortisol level.

However, before I wrap up the topic, you should know how to detect when your cortisol level is high. Here are some of the possible symptoms of cortisol spikes.


Symptoms of Excess Cortisol & Cortisol Dysregulation

  • Fatigue or low energy
  • Weight gain especially in the midsection
  • Dependence on caffeine and carbohydrates for energy
  • Early morning increased fatigue
  • Intense cravings for sugary carbohydrates
  • Insomnia
  • Decreased tolerance to stressful situations




It is not only enough to monitor these symptoms, but you should also know yourself. Be sure of how your body responds to stressful moments.

If weight gain is one of the downsides of stress on you, then you should find some of those tips on how to lose stress weight useful. It is simple, if stress is the reason why you are fat, then find ways to curtail stress.

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