Le stress nuit-il à votre perte de poids?

Did you know that a high calorie diet under the effect of stress causes more weight gain than the SAME diet WITHOUT the source of stress?

Chronic stress has many effects on the body, in many cases causing weight gain or difficulty in maintaining or losing weight.

This may be due to stress-induced behaviors, cortisol, or a molecular pathway in the brain controlled by insulin that causes additional weight gain under stress, or a combination of these factors.

Let's take the time to see the different links and especially how to try to change the tangent!

Cortisol, stress and sugar and weight gain

It has long been known that the body secretes adrenaline and cortisol in response to stress, and glucose is then released into the blood, to provide enough energy to respond to a stressful situation.

Once the source of stress is gone, adrenaline levels go down and your carbohydrate levels go down too. Cortisol therefore activates to replenish an energy reserve.

This is where the vicious cycle begins…

After stress, sugar provides the body with the quick energy it thinks it needs. But sugar is unfortunately stored by the body in the form of abdominal fat, which is particularly difficult to eliminate.Being stressed, releasing cortisol, eating sugar, gaining weight, wanting to eat more sugar, eating more sugar, gaining weight, being stressed, etc.…

Stress slows down the metabolism

Even if you don't eat sugar or high fat meals,cortisol slows down the metabolism, making it even more difficult to lose weight under stress.

Researchers at Ohio State University have shown that stress slows down the metabolism, and therefore the rate at which calories are burned. They noted an average daily difference of 104 fewer calories burned for candidates who experienced stress in the past 24 hours vs. those who had not. Over 365 days, 104 calories add up to 11 lbs more.

They also noted that the insulin levels in these candidates were higher.

Insulin and weight gain

Another research, by Professor Herzog of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research, clearly demonstratedanother vicious circle, where high and chronic insulin levels, due to stress and a high calorie diet, increasingly promote appetite. In his words: Which really reinforces the idea that while it is bad to eat junk food, doing it under stress doubly promotes obesity. »

Bad habits and stress

In addition to stress-related hormonal and metabolic changes, stress can lead to a variety of behaviors that can be harmful to health. Here are a few :

  • Skipping Meals: Too Busy You have an endless to-do list Eating can seem like the last of your worries, and meals can sometimes disappear from the schedule, giving you more time to move forward. Whether it's lunch or dinner, unfortunately the reflex is not the best for your health or for weight loss.ids.
  • Eat fast food aka fast food: In stressful and time-constrained situations, it's often easier to grab a quick lunch or dinner at the nearest street corner, rather than take the time and the mental energy needed to prepare a balanced and healthy meal.n.
  • Eating Our Emotions: An increased level of cortisol can not only make you want to eat unhealthy foods, but too much stress can often lead to eating more than you normally would. It's the same vicious cycle of cortisol, releasing cortisol, eating sugar (and / or junk food), gaining weight, etc. Weight management is much more difficult under stress than in a non-stressful situation.
  • Sleep less: Stress often leads many people to poorer quality sleep when they are under stress, such as difficulty falling asleep, insomnia, frequent awakenings. Research has shown a link between insufficient sleep and slower metabolism. Unfortunately, feeling tired and exhausted can also reduce the desire to prepare a good meal, because the effort seems too great.
  • Exercise less: With a busy schedule, it's not uncommon for time that should be set aside for physical activity to be replaced in the schedule by work. The accumulated fatigue often does not help the situation.

How to break the cycle of stress and weight gain

Here are some strategies that can help you break the cycle of stress and weight gain:

  • Eat Healthier Comfort Foods: No one should need a lot of sugar or bad fats to make you feel better. Eating healthier comfort foods is just as likely to improve mood as less healthy foods. Knowing this will make it easier to choose a healthier option during times of high stress.
  • Make exercise one of your priorities: (See article:Fight depression, anxiety and stress through sport?) Any doctor or naturopath or coach will tell you the same thing: exercise is an essential part of stress reduction and weight management. So getting moving, incorporating exercise into your routine, results in killing two birds with one stone: it will help you manage your stress better and help you lose weight.
  • Drink more water: Hunger and thirst can easily be confused. We have already been told that it is important to drink about 2 liters of water per day. If you are feeling a little hungry, before going for a snack, start by drinking a little water to eliminate any mild dehydration that may be affecting you. Once hydrated, you will better know how to identify a real craving so that you can take asnack that will support you until the next meal.
  • Try to eat mindfully (See article:Intuitive Eating, what do you eat in winter ): Take the time to savor your meals and the pleasure of flavors and reject the notion of diet. Instead, take the time to think about what you crave the most, which will make you feel good during and after a meal. Rediscover the feeling of fullness and often ask yourself why you are hungry. An emotional reason, or you have a real hunger that pulls you in. You will eat when you are really hungry. Calm meals will also decrease stress levels, thus lowering cortisol and the feeling of needing sugar..
  • Some natural supplements have the properties of bringing us calm, reducing stress, helping us regain serenity, lowering our cortisol levels and thus making weight management a little easier. Products like Stress Less, L'Ashwagandha, magnesium Synermag, the St. John's Wort, are really a big help here. Several other products are available in this page of Stress management are there to help us find a certain serenity.
  • Take some time for yourself every day (See article:Anxious Here are some tips to reduce your anxiety levelé), to reduce your stress level: Yoga, meditation, breathing, reading, walking with music ... Taking a few moments for yourself will allow you to reduce your cortisol level and help you manage your weight.
  • Plan your schedules: Having good planning helps you manage stress better. It also allows you to build in time for meals, for physical activity, time for yourself. In the end, you will come out a winner.

In the end, the goal is to break the famous vicious cycle of stress and weight gain. Knowing how to rest, take the time to move a little, and eat healthy when you are really hungry. It doesn't happen in a day, but Rome was not built in a day.

Importantly, if you experience emotional distress or uncontrollable stress, do not hesitate to consult a health professional, doctor, psychologist or therapist who will be able to help you adequately.


  1. http://www.psychomedia.qc.ca/sante/2019-04-27/poids-stress
  2. Garvan Institute of Medical Research. "Comfort food leads to more weight gain during stress." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, April 25, 2019. & lt; www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190425143610.htm> ;.
  3. https://www.verywellmind.com/how-stress-can-cause-weight-gain-3145088#:~:text=The%20researchers%20found%20that%2C%20on,that%20contributes%20to%20fat%20storage.

 Article written by Audrée Hogue

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