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Fact or Myth: Stress Causes Weight Gain

The effects of stress on our lives and bodies can cause a variety of problems. From skin issues and hair loss to fatigue and mental strain, being stressed is one way to give yourself physical ailments. And, among the most influential side effects of stress, weight gain can be a difficult one to combat. Understanding the mistakes made that lead to weight gain during stressful times and finding strategies to reduce your risk of packing on the pounds are two important ways to battle the negative effects on stress on your waist.

Common Mistakes Individuals Make When Stressed

One of the major causes of weight gain during stressful times are the habits we develop. While there are some physical effects that can be caused by hormone changes, many of the excess weight we see during difficult times can be attributed to how we act when we are stressed. Here are some habits to consider paying careful attention to when you know you are finding life a little more difficult than normal.

  • Worrying can cause increased levels of ghrelin within your system. Ghrelin is the hormone that tells us we are hungry, which is why we tend to see an increase in our food consumption during bouts of worrying.
  • Forgetting to eat, believe it or not, can lead to a slower metabolism and a higher likelihood to binge later in the day. When you find your to-do list too long, skipping your snack or meal can have a negative effect on our body.
  • Emotional eating is an extremely common practice when we are feeling stressed.
  • Lacking sleep is another way that we gain weight when we are stressed. Having the proper amount of sleep leads to healthy metabolism.
  • Overdoing caffeine intake promotes weight gain and insulin problems. While caffeine can help you get through the day when you are lacking sleep, too much caffeine can leave to weight gain.
  • Skipping your workout is easy when all you want to do is crawl into bed. But skipping your workout during stressful times can have a serious negative effect on your body. Plus, one way to destress and reduce anxiety is to get that workout in.

Can You Prevent Weight Gain During Stressful Times?

While gaining weight is common when you are stressed, focusing on what needs to be done to prevent putting on excess weight can help your overall health.

  • Slow down when eating. Scarfing down your food when stressed can lead to eating more and adding to belly fat.
  • Cut back on caffeine, even when you need it to counteract your lack of sleep. The combination of caffeine and stress raises cortisol levels.
  • Eating a healthy breakfast can help to counteract the hormonal imbalances that occur when we are stressed.
  • Sleep deprivation is a major stressor. Sleep brings balance to your body, so sleeping off your stressful times can have a positive effect.
  • Moving your muscles is a natural and effective stress reducer. Give yourself the extra push you need to add to your workout instead of skipping it!
  • Give in a little. It is better to give in to cravings when you are stressed than to boost your cortisol levels until they are out of control.

While it can be difficult to focus during stressful times in our lives, following these important tips can help to reduce the likelihood of extreme weight gain. Everyone deals with stress, and there is no way to eliminate it from our lives completely. But finding ways to manage our stress levels and to focus on staying healthy can be beneficial to your overall health.

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