Stress itself doesn’t directly affect your weight. Biologically, stress is a hormonal response. Cortisol, the hormone behind it, is responsible for its weight implications.
But, how does it work?
The biology behind why does stress cause weight gain
Stress goes beyond psychology. It’s a natural response to our environment. Essentially, it’s our flight or fight response. It instinctually triggers several coping mechanisms.
Our bodies enter “survival mode.” That usually makes us eat more calories than we usually need. It’s a natural way to deal with stress. Our bodies believe we used those calories to survive.
Stress causes weight gain, mostly by overeating
Naturally, most people end up eating more than usual. That’s where “comfort foods” come into play. Junk food is typically high in calories. So, it’s an ideal food to replenish them.
Overeating can help us feel less stressed. But, it can also become a habit. That’s especially true when stress is part of our days.
But, cortisol is also a reason why stress causes weight gain
Cortisol is the hormone behind stress. It releases when we feel threatened, triggering fight or flight. Oftentimes, it disrupts how our body works.
More importantly, it messes with our carb and fat metabolism. So, it creates an energy surge in our bodies. The offside is increasing our appetite.
It’s not really prevalent, but it could still be an issue
Luckily, small cortisol rises aren’t normally a problem. We can usually deal with stress without inherent negative effects.
But, cortisol levels may stay chronically elevated. Likewise, some people spend most of their lives stressed with work. In those cases, most of stress’ negative effects appear.
The holistic takeaway
So, why does stress cause weight gain? It’s a double-whammy between coping tactics and hormonal changes.
And, stress does a lot more than make you gain weight.
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