6 Ways to Beat Weight Gain Due to Stress
In bouts of stress, eating can instantaneously suppress the undesirable emotions by releasing the “feel good” hormone, also known as endorphins. The synergistic factors can ultimately cumulate the pounds, though these six tips can unlink the relationship between cortisol, stress, and weight gain once and for all!
From peanut butter and jelly to chocolate and strawberries, some pairings are just meant to be. Unfortunately, not all duos are desired, including that infamous stress and weight gain. Especially in bouts of stress, eating can instantaneously suppress the undesirable emotions by releasing the “feel good” hormone, also known as endorphins. Foods sought out during these times tend to be rich in calories from sugar and fat, setting up the stage for weight gain. But even more unfortunate, stress and weight gain is not always a dynamic duo, as a third instigator plays a role as well. Also known as the stress hormone, cortisol is released when the body feels stressed, heightens cravings, stores fuel and energy, and slows down metabolism. The synergistic factors can ultimately cumulate the pounds, though these six tips can unlink the relationship between cortisol, stress, and weight gain once and for all!
6 Ways to Beat Weight Gain Due to Stress
1. Partake in Stress-Relieving Techniques
One of the best ways to reduce the risk of stress and weight gain is by relieving it. While releasing stress is subjective to each individual, common stress-relieving techniques include practicing deep breathing and meditation, taking a warm bath, reading a favorite book, listening to music, calling a close friend or family member, or walking it off.
2. Limit Sugar
It may not be so ironic ‘desserts’ spelled backwards is ‘stressed’… Limiting sugar may be the most difficult to control in bouts of 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 be contributing to your stress, predominately by fluctuating blood sugar levels. Men and women are encouraged to limit consumption to 38 and 25 grams of sugar per day, respectively, and can reduce their intake by consuming more wholesome foods, reducing sweet treats, recognizing hidden sources, and reading through Nutrition Facts and Ingredients labels on food products.
3. Go for Color
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, along with supplying nutrients shown to combat stress such as vitamins B and C. And not to mention, vibrant veggies and fruits and naturally low in calorie and high in fiber to keep calories in check, hunger at ease, and weight maintained or lost.
4. Meal Prep
Meal prepping can break the link between stress and weight gain twofold. First off, having healthy meals prepped and ready to go limits the risk of gravitating towards the drive thru or packaged foods that tend to be innutritious. Additionally, meal prepping can take one less stressor off your plate during a busy week. Whether new to the practice or desiring additional assistance, find your guide to meal prepping here, including recipes and ideas.
5. Exercise Regularly
Similar to eating, exercise also releases 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.
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, start implementing a regular bedtime schedule. Also avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening hours, and cultivate a comforting environment by turning off all electronics and lights and cozying up in your favorite bedtime climate.