For a while now, experts have understood the connection between a person’s stress levels and their weight.

Women who have weight issues or are trying to lose weight will find in particular that stress will cause them to have difficulty in losing those extra pounds. There are many reasons why stress can lead to weight gain:

Cortisol: When we are under stress, the body produces a hormone called cortisol. While cortisol in small or infrequent amounts may actually improve productivity and alertness and performance as well, too much stress and consequently cortisol in the body will be counterproductive because:

  • Too much cortisol in the system can make the metabolism slow down so that can lead to weight gain even though your levels of activity and food intake remain the same. It is the fight or flight response of the body to stress that causes this response and the production of cortisol.
  • Also cortisol deposits fat on the abdomen, which is dangerous for health, and known as toxic fat.
  • Stress can cause women to crave several different things. In fact it could be something that women have actually noticed themselves: reaching for the sugary, fatty, salty foods when stressed even when knowing that these are no good for them.
  • Sugar levels are also impacted by stress and hyperglycemia, Metabolic Syndrome, fatigue and mood swings are all connected to stress.
  • The higher a person’s stress levels the more their body stores fat; this is seen in particular with abdominal fat.

Emotional Eating: Stress causes many of us to overindulge. Many of us may eat for comfort and it is this emotional eating that causes weight gain. The eating here has to do less with hunger and more with the stress we are under.

Rushed lives: In our rushed and stressful lives, we have little time to cook healthy food at home using fresh and nutritious ingredients. It is the processed, prepackaged, convenience foods and the fast foods that are causing the weight gain.

Also in our hectic and busy lives, there is little time and scope for exercise which adds to the problem. Desk jobs, long commutes, make for a sedentary life and tiredness at the end of the day leave little energy to do much else. Winding down with some TV does not help either.

So really it is this mix of hormonal and psychological factors that creates this link between stress and weight gain, and causes this vicious cycle to develop wherein stress leads to weight gain, which is turn causes more stress and so on.