How Stress can Cause Weight Gain - Now Wellness

How Stress can Cause Weight Gain

By May 14, 2018Busy Moms

The Scale says WHAT?

Does it feel like you make great changes to your diet and your lifestyle, but step on the scale and it’s higher? So you think, what did I do wrong? Becoming even more stressed than you already were? This can cause such vicious circle, which leads us nowhere.

What can stress do to your health?

  • Digestive System:
    • Fight or flight doesn’t provide the proper amount of stomach acid, which doesn’t break down food for proper nutrients, causing more stress on intestines and colon.
  • Weight Gain:
    • More on this Later
  • Immune System:
    • Constant stress starts to weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to illness.
  • Nervous System:
    • Increases feelings of anxiety, and depression. Can cause Sleep disruption.
  • Cardiovascular System:
    • Increase blood pressure, heart rate, and blood sugars.

How can Stress make me gain weight?

When we are stressed, our body triggers a Fight or Flight response which releases Cortisol.

Constant Stress means:

  • Always high cortisol
  • A decrease in DHEA
    • (hormone regulator): Triggers Fat Storage
  • An increase in Blood Insulin:
    • which can lead to insulin resistance as well as high blood sugar levels. This again leads to storing more fat.
  • Increased Estrogen
    • Which then causes a hormone imbalance and what we call Estrogen Dominance. Which can lead to Muscle Loss, bone loss and more
  • An increase in androgens
    • A hormone that can cause facial hair and acne

Blood Sugar and Stress

Elevated Cortisol levels trigger the body into needing more energy, for fighting or running away. During this, it shuts off your cells response to insulin, by not absorbing the insulin out of the bloodstream. This results in higher blood sugar levels to help with the quick energy that the body needs.

When the body needs the extra energy for the stress, it produces more insulin and releases more fat. This will be made into glucose for energy by the liver. However, both higher levels of cortisol and insulin send a signal to store as much fat as possible

Does it Ever End?

Well sort of. After the stress dissipates (if it does), the cortisol starts to become deactivated. Where does that go? Your fat cells store it. However, your fat cells have these things called HSD (hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase) an enzyme, which can reactivate them. The higher the activity of your HSD, results in more reactivations. Triggering another signal to store more fat.

On top of all of that, your Metabolic Rate Drops. Resulting in your body not to burn as many calories on a daily basis.

Finally, let’s talk about that water. How many of us don’t drink enough water and think, oh I will just drink more tomorrow? Or well, my body has lots of reserved water stores anyways? Well, the problem with that is that when you don’t drink enough water it triggers more cortisol to be released into the body. This lands your right back at the beginning.


Sadly, constant stress can lead to something called Syndrome X. Which is a combination of blood sugar imbalances, irregular blood pressure, and higher bad cholesterol. It also can lead to a thyroid imbalance. How? Well, unfortunately, cortisol and adrenals come before your thyroid, in the level of importance according to your body. Your diverts the nutrients your thyroid needs to help keep up with the stress. 


This is where I highly recommend self-care. No matter how little or for how long, just do something for yourself. Deep breathing and meditation are both amazing skills to have and to practice on a daily basis. These will help lower our stress levels and our heart rate.

If you feel that you are struggling with unexplained weight gain I highly recommend you work with your Doctor, or Naturopath to have your levels tested to ensure that you don’t have any other underlying concerns. Working with a professional with your lifestyle and nutrition is the next step. If you are ready to be Free Check out my Freedom Ready.





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