Weight Loss

From the effects of the hormone cortisol to the role of genetics in weight loss, this category is packed with everything that you need to know about losing weight the healthy way.

Lose Stress Weight Gain With These 7 Tips

Stress is a natural part of life, though chronic stress can wreak havoc on health and lead to weight gain. Fortunately, there are tried and true tips to control stress to successively lose weight.


Stress is a natural part of life, and can even propel motivation and efforts. However, chronic stress can wreak havoc on health and lead to weight gain.

What's more, there are a number of seemingly harmless factors that can covertly contribute to stress levels. A poor night's sleep, too much caffeine, and skipping out on nourishing meals can elevate stress and increase weight gain risk.

Fortunately, there are tried and true tips to control stress to successively lose weight. Find out how to beat stress weight gain once and for all!

The Link Between Stress and Weight Gain

The link between stress and weight gain is mostly related to a couple of factors, including the stress hormone known as cortisol and stress eating.

The Stress Hormone: Cortisol

Cortisol is released when the body feels stressed. It is known to heighten cravings and slow down metabolism.

High levels of cortisol can also lead to fat accumulation deep within the abdomen and around the organs. This fat storage is particularly difficult to lose after it is gained.

Stress & Emotional Eating

Especially in bouts of stress, eating can instantly suppress the undesirable emotions by releasing endorphins. These hormones are produced by the body to relieve stress and pain.

Foods sought out during these times tend to be towards comfort foods rich in calories from fat and sugar. And, unfortunately, regularly indulging on them can lead to weight gain.

The synergistic factors of stress can undoubtedly pack on the pounds. However, there are ways to unlink the relationship between weight, cortisol, and stress.

7 Ways to Beat Weight Gain Due to Stress

From managing stress to controlling food cravings, learn how to beat weight gain due to stress with these 7 effective tips.

    1. Partake in Stress-Relieving Techniques

    One of the best ways to reduce the risk of stress and weight gain is by relieving it. Stress relief is personal, though common positive coping techniques include:

    • Deep breathing and meditating

    • Practicing yoga

    • Taking a warm bath

    • Reading a favorite book

    • Listening to music

    • Calling a close friend or family member

    • Walking out in nature

    2. Limit Sugar Intake

    It may not be so ironic 'desserts' spelled backward is 'stressed'… Limiting sugar may be the most difficult to control in response to stress, as heightened feelings can lead to emotional and stress eating patterns.

    Sugar not only supplies empty calories and heightens the likelihood of weight gain, but may even exacerbate stress by fluctuating blood sugar levels.

    Men and women are encouraged to limit consumption to 38 and 25 grams of sugar per day, respectively. Use these tips to moderate sugar intake:

    • Reduce obvious sources of sugar, including sweet treats and soft drinks.

    • Recognize hidden sources of sugar such as flavored yogurts, dressings, and sauces.

    • Read Nutrition Facts and Ingredients labels on food products.

    3. Learn How to Control Food Cravings

    Unlike hunger, which is a physical need for food, cravings are more of a mental desire. Cravings tend to be stimulated and fueled by negative feelings and emotions and can pass with time.

    People are commonly unsatisfied following their intake and may even feel guilty if cravings are fed into. The good news is there are proven ways to control food cravings, including by:

    • Practicing mindful eating.

    • Sticking to regular mealtimes.

    • Keeping hydrated.

    • Dodging food triggers, including keeping them out of the house.

    • Finding healthy distractions such as exercise.

    4. Eat More Colorful, Nutrient-Dense Foods

    (And not the colorful cereals or sprinkles atop ice cream.)

    Consuming foods naturally displaying bountiful colors provides the body with what it needs for optimal functioning. They supply nutrients shown to combat stress such as vitamins B and C.

    And not to mention, vibrant veggies and fruits are naturally low in calorie and high in fiber. This naturally keeps calories in check, hunger at ease, and weight maintained or lost.

    5. Practice Meal Prep

    Meal prepping can break the link between stress and weight gain twofold.

    First off, having healthy meals prepped lowers the risk of resorting to the drive-thru or packaged foods that tend to be innutritious. Meal prepping can take one less stressor off your plate during a busy week as well.

    Step-by-step meal prep tips include taking food requests, compiling a grocery list, going grocery shopping, prepping and storing the meals accordingly.

    6. Exercise Regularly

    Similar to eating, physical activity can release endorphins. But unlike feelings of guilt followed by bouts of binging, individuals tend to never regret a workout.

    And while it may be easier to run to the kitchen rather than a mile or a few, continuously heading to the gym or outside forms a healthy habit. And not only can exercise halt stress weight gain once and for all but even assist in weight loss!

    As a general rule of thumb, individuals should partake in at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week, along with two to three days of strength and resistance training.

    7. Ensure Adequate Sleep

    Stress can certainly hinder and disrupt precious sleep cycles, though the importance of sleep can not be stressed enough. In fact, studies have linked sleep deprivation to stronger emotions and heighten feelings of hunger the next day.

    To achieve the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night, use these methods:

    • Be consistent with sleep and wake times.

    • Avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening hours.

    • Create a comfortable environment.

    • Turn off all electronics and lights leading up to bed.

    All-in-all, seek out medical advice if struggling to achieve adequate sleep or manage stress.

Written By Sydney Lappe, MS, RDN. Published on November 30, 2017. Updated on January 09, 2020.


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