When you are stressed your adrenal glands produce excess cortisol leading to weight gain and the inability to lose weight.
Excess cortisol causes weight gain in three ways. First, cortisol stimulates the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats making you feel hungry. Chronically high levels of stress disrupts cortisol’s normal rhythm leading to increased hunger. If you think about it, eating is likely what you do when you are stressed.
Second, high levels of cortisol increase blood sugar levels. Excess glucose (sugar in your blood) gets stored as fat in your body resulting in weight gain.
Thirdly, high levels of cortisol disrupts the normal cortisol rhythm which should be high in the morning giving you energy for the day and low in the evening so that you sleep. When cortisol levels are chronically high, it leads to sleep deprivation.
Studies show that people who sleep 5 hours or less per night gain weight. Even if you are eating less, if you are not sleeping more than 5 hours per night you will gain weight. On top of this insufficient sleep causes additional cortisol to be released which stimulates hunger. It can be a vicious cycle.
If you are experiencing weight gain or the inability to lose weight, it may be prudent to assess the amount of stress you have in your life and take action to reduce it. Something as simple making time for relaxation every day can reduce stress levels dramatically. Practices such as meditation, massage, deep breathing, yoga or walking in nature are great stress busters.
Finally some simple dietary changes can assist with both lowering stress levels and weight loss. Try these 3 Quick and Easy Smoothie Recipes Packed with Stress Busting Nutrients.