weight loss

Stress and Weight Loss: How Are They Related?

weight loss

When the discussion about weight loss is being carried out, stress is worth examining. The stress and weight loss relationship are two-sided. If you’re trying to cut some weight and you’re stressed up, your body may go through processes that can sabotage your efforts.

On the other hand, if you’ve been losing weight and not sure about the reason, stress might be the culprit. Whether it leads to weight gain or weight loss can vary depending on the person and the situation. For some people, stress may lead to poor food choices, while others may completely lose their appetite.

This article expounds more on the relationship between stress and weight loss and how you can reduce stress and live a happy life.

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Stress and Weight Loss Resistance

You could be doing everything as recommended: you hit the gym, reduce your sugar intake, keep track of your calorie count, and cut out most junk foods. But despite your efforts, you still don’t lose weight. Many things contribute to stress and weight loss resistance, including genetics, food allergies, over-the-counter medications, and adrenal imbalances.

Being in a stressful state immensely affects weight loss as it sends the body in a “survival mode”. This, in turn, prevents your body system from performing efficiently. And as a result, you may end up battling to lose weight.

Keep in mind that poor sleep and persistent stress can also lead to weight loss resistance. So, how do stress and sleep, and weight loss related?

When you don’t get enough sleep due to stress, this setting can affect hormones that control your appetite.

Can Stress Make You Lose Weight?

Let’s face it. Everybody experiences stress at some point in life. Despite it being a hindrance to your weight loss goals, stress can also cause you to lose weight. This is because it affects many of your body processes and can change your eating habits.

How Do You Lose Weight from Stress?

When you’re stressed up, you may engage yourself in different behaviors than usual, such as staying up late or working through lunch. These disruptions can impact your body’s internal reaction and lead to weight loss in different ways.

        1. Adrenal Stress and Weight Loss

When your body is under stress, it triggers the adrenal glands to release epinephrine, also known as adrenaline. This activates your body’s fight-or-flight response, preparing you to fight or flee off impending danger.

A rush of adrenaline increases your heartbeat and speeds up your breathing, which can burn calories. What’s more, it alters how the gut digests food and changes blood glucose levels.

       2. Inflammation & Activation of Vagal Nerve

Stress and poor nutritional choices can lead to extensive inflammation and weight loss. The widespread inflammation can activate the vagus nerve, thus influencing how the gut metabolizes food.

weight loss

Factors That Contribute to Stress and Weight Loss Resistance

       3. Sleep Disruption Affects Cortisol Production

Generally, stress makes it difficult to fall asleep. Additionally, it can affect the quality of sleep you get causing you to feel sluggish and exhausted.

Because these disruptions influence cortisol production, a stress hormone, they negatively affect your metabolism.

       4. Gastrointestinal Distress

Gastrointestinal distress also plays a role in stress and weight loss. Have you noticed that you tend to experience gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms like bowel issues or nausea whenever you’re in a stressful situation? That’s because the intestines and stomach are affected directly by the stress response.

These symptoms include:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Gas
  • Heartburn or reflux

Digestive issues caused by stress are usual. However, they can result in long-term problems such as irritable bowel syndrome when anxiety is prolonged. In the process, this can affect your eating habits, leading to weight loss.

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Why Do I Keep Losing Weight for No Reason?

Losing weight can be intentional, like when dieting and hitting the gym. But at times, weight loss can occur even when you’re maintaining a healthy diet and living a stress-free life. How’s this possible, and why does it happen?

Weight loss usually occurs due to decreased muscle mass, fat, or body fluid. A reduction in body fat can mostly manifest through sickness, lack of fluid intake, or medication.

Other causes of weight loss:

  • Bowel obstruction
  • Infections
  • Dental problems
  • Malabsorption

Unexplained weight loss is often because of illness. That’s why it’s best to seek medical attention from a health care professional when it happens.

Can Stress and Weight Loss Affect Your Period?

Acute stress and weight loss can affect your menstrual cycle in so many ways:

  • It may become longer or shorter
  • Your periods may become more painful
  • They might stop altogether

Your menstrual cycle would be affected by the amount of weight you lose. Women who lose too much weight may have irregular periods.

Stress and Weight Loss During Pregnancy

Certain stress and weight loss study show that maternal stress can lower birth weight and even cause preterm birth. Besides, children born of stressed mothers are more susceptible to asthma than other studies.

Stress and weight loss during pregnancy can also cause health problems like heart diseases and high blood pressure.

How to Relieve Stress and Weight Loss?

Stress and weight loss anxiety are everyday experiences for many people. But luckily, you can use various techniques to help you relieve stress.

       1. Acupuncture for Stress and Weight Loss

According to the Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, acupuncture promotes Qi’s movement, thereby relieving stress. This practice has been used for years to treat various symptoms and illnesses. Acupuncture can stimulate chi (your body’s energy flow) to impact factors that can cause weight loss, such as:

  • Reducing appetite
  • Increasing metabolism
  • Lowering stress
weight loss

Ways of Reducing Stress- induced Weight Loss

        2. Use Supplements

Adequate sleep, good nutrition, and regular exercise are efficient ways to combat stress. But supplements for anxiety and weight loss can also equip your body to deal with stress.

Several supplements, including lemon balm, green tea, ashwagandha, and omega-3 fatty acids, promote stress and anxiety reduction. Since other supplements have side effects, always consult with a doctor before using them, especially if you’re under medication.

Like supplements, vitamins for stress and weight loss can also help you combat stress. One of the best vitamins to use is the B complex vitamins.

These vitamins tend to convert the food you consume into usable energy. Food sources that contain B vitamins include leafy greens, dairy products, eggs, and legumes.

       3. Take A Yoga Class

Yoga is becoming a more popular stress relief method among all age groups. Besides enhancing your moods, yoga can be as efficient as antidepressant drugs at treating anxiety and depression.

The benefits of yoga for stress and weight loss seem to be connected to your stress response and nervous system. It can help lower your blood pressure, cortisol levels, and heart rate.

       4. Seek Medical Advice

Typically, you can deal with minimal stress-related weight loss on your own. But, it’s best to involve a professional doctor if you’ve lost up to 5% of your total body weight over a short period.

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Medication for stress and weight loss can take up to 6 weeks to relieve anxiety symptoms. The most widely used antidepressants are Lexapro, Zoloft, and Prozac. Your doctor can help you know why stress is negatively affecting your weight and create an ideal management plan for your needs.

At EZCare Clinic, our healthcare professionals are devoted to our patients and focus on helping you live a fulfilling life. Contact us today for services that will enable you to work through stress and weight loss.


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Evidence Based

This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts and fact checked by experts.

Our team of experts strive to be objective, unbiased, honest and to present both sides of the argument.

This article contains scientific references. The numbers
in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.