How is stress linked to weight gain?

Ram Tumuluri – “How is stress linked to weight gain?”

Ram Tumuluri – “Have you noticed how a stressful period impacts the body? The lack of sleep and urge for comfort food can be linked back to stress and eventually lead to weight gain. This week our team looks at the signs of weight gain caused by stress and how you can prevent it in our latest blog.”

Stress can have a serious impact on business leaders in a number of ways. Not just mentally but physically too and an event like a financial crisis or a failed investment can lead to weight gain. In this article we’ll look at the way this happens and how you can combat it.

Why does weight gain occur?

Working in stressful conditions for a prolonged period of time can lead to poor eating habits including a loss of appetite and even skipping meals. This can be linked to science, specifically the body’s response to stress which has been seen to result in hormonal changes in metabolism, insulin and the storage of fat. 

Stress is also a trigger for a fight and flight response. Once the adrenaline wears off, cortisol is released which temporarily suppresses non-essential functions such as your digestive and immune responses. The more cortisol in your system, the more stimulated your appetite is and the more likely you are to crave ‘comfort food’ such as snacks that are high in sugar and fat.

What are the signs of weight gain caused by stress?

In some cases, it’s not even simply the weight gain that can be the telltale indicator of stress but where the fat is stored. Higher levels of stress have been linked to greater abdominal fat which has been referred to as ‘toxic fat’, is harder to shed and itself linked to greater health risks than fat stored in other parts of the body.

A change in eating habits is also a sign of weight gain caused by stress. Emotional eating caused by increased levels of cortisol is the result of excess nervous energy which can mean we consume more than we normally would. 

The more time spent at work can mean less time preparing healthy meals and even lead to ordering takeaways and opting for fast food. This sense of being ‘too busy’ usually means less chance of exercise, forgetting to drink water, skipping meals, sleeping less and even trying fad diets.

How to prevent weight gain caused by stress

If you do want to exert control over how stress impacts your weight then there are some simple ways to do so. Set some time to exercise and make it a priority which can mean going for a walk before a business meeting, heading to the gym after work or perhaps a jog to the office. Embed stress-relief strategies into your daily routine such as meditation, yoga or reading in a quiet spot. Finally, be mindful of the quantity and quality of what you are eating. Keep a food journal and keep the fast food to a minimum. Try not to skip meals to avoid low blood sugar levels which can impact your ability to make rational decisions