Zen Mode 5 MIN READ 49 VIEWS January 12, 2023

Addressing The Scepticism – Does Stress Cause Weight Gain?

Written By HealthKart
Medically Reviewed By Dr. Aarti Nehra

Does Stress Cause Weight Gain

We often ask this question, “Does stress cause weight gain?”  Yes! Chronic stress can make you gain weight. Many studies have shown that there is a close relationship between stress and weight gain.

Whenever we get stressed the adrenal glands in our bodies release cortisol and adrenaline, which in turn release glucose into our bloodstream. These things are done to provide us with the energy we need to save ourselves from a risky situation. Better known as the “fight or flight” response.

People who suffer from chronic high stress are also prone to other health-associated issues, such as:

  • Digestive issues
  • Heart disease
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Depression
  • High blood pressure
  • Anxiety
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes

Moreover, extra weight can increase the risk of diabetes and certain cancers. It is quite well-known that weight gain or obesity is associated with a lot of diseases.

How Does Stress Make Us Gain Weight?

Long-term stress can also lead us to engage in some bad habits that contribute to weight gain:

1. Skipping the Daily Workout Sessions and Exercise

One of the things related to stress weight gain is skipping exercise. Stress can affect our mood, and our need to work out. With so many things in our day-to-day schedule, preoccupied mind, we are left with no time for physical activity. We frequently skip workouts and run for our college or office. This is one of the many factors that make us gain weight.

2. Skipping Meals

Another thing that makes us gain weight is skipping meals. When we are extremely stressed about things and running from one thing to another, having our meals becomes the last priority. We often end up skipping breakfast, which is the most important meal of the day. It not only makes us energised enough to be active throughout the day, but it also increases our metabolism, which helps us burn more calories. However, skipping breakfast can do exactly the opposite.

3. Emotional Eating

You might have heard of stress eating. An increased cortisol level can make you crave fast foods and tempt you to eat more than usual. You will notice that reaching for a treat or snacking relieves you from stress for a while, but it gradually contributes to weight gain. The more junk you end up eating out of stress, the more weight you will start gaining as a result leading to obesity at some point.

4. Sleeping Less

People experiencing stress are often found to have trouble sleeping, and not getting enough sleep can lead to weight gain. This is because sleep deprivation can interfere with glucose metabolism and the hormones associated with metabolism. When you are sleep deprived, you might feel tired, and end up buying ready-made or processed foods instead of cooking, this contributes to bad eating habits and weight gain.

What Causes Stress?

Chronic stress can affect our health negatively. Identifying what causes us stress is very important for stress management. Here are some of the things that can cause stress.

1. Relationships

The house is the place where we feel most safe and peaceful, but if we fail to find peace at our own home, it can badly affect our mental health and make us worry. Having bad arguments with your parents, partners, children, or friends can contribute to stress. Problems among other family members can affect your stress level, even when you are not involved in any kind of argument.

2. Life Changes

Changing or losing jobs, the death of a family member, shifting to a new place, and separating from partners are some of the changes that we often experience in our lives. These sudden changes in our lives can shake us from the core and make us stressed about the future. This leads to other mental disorders like anxiety, or depression.

3. Financial Problems

Going through a financial crisis can be a stressful thing. Losing jobs, lower salary or cutoff in  salaries, and running out of savings can have a bad impact on our mental health. Financial stress can lead to depression, anxiety, and physical symptoms like headaches, stomach aches, etc.

How To Reduce Stress?

While a moderate amount of stress is natural in our daily life, getting stressed often that too without any serious reason is not natural. Here are some of the steps you can take to reduce your stress level:

1. Reduce Sugar and Caffeine Intake

Consumption of large amounts of sugar boosts insulin and stress hormone production,  which in turn increases inflammation in the body. On the other hand, caffeine stimulates our nervous system, and both of these together contribute to increasing our body’s stress levels.

2. Maintain a Healthy Diet

Maintaining a healthy diet is extremely essential to reduce anxiety and relax your muscles. Adding whole grains, healthy fats, lean protein, green vegetables, and low glycaemic fruits can help you to achieve better health and a stress-free mind.

3. Avoid Cigarettes, Drugs, and Alcohol

One of the best things you can do to reduce stress is to reduce alcohol consumption and avoid drugs and cigarettes. Although many people use these substances to reduce stress, in the long run, they can lead to stressful situations in life like missed deadlines, inability to focus on work, poor libido, and feeling tired all the time.

4. Go for Therapy

If you feel you are unable to control your stress and it is affecting your health negatively, make an appointment with a health expert or professional.

5. Sleep Well

When you are sleep-deprived, things might appear much more complicated. Moreover, sleep deprivation can make you overreact and over-stress in stressful situations. This is why it is necessary to have a proper sleep schedule.

6. Think Positively

When dealing with problems in life, we think of the worst scenarios all the time. This makes things look more troubling than they are, and this causes us stress. Always think positively and focus on finding a way out of the situation.

7. Take Breaks

When feeling troubled or stressed, take a break from whatever you are doing and relax your mind. This will help you to focus on work and clear up your troubling thoughts.

8. Form Friendships

Having a good association can help to take your mind off stressful thoughts and focus on the good side of life. They can also provide you with the support and guidance that you may need. Now that you have an answer to your question, “Can stress cause weight gain?”, avoid stressful situations by following the above-mentioned steps and building a healthy lifestyle.


Stress and weight gain are related to each other. The functioning of our brain highly affects our other body functions. We might not realise it, but stress can affect our day-to-day activities, which can contribute to weight gain. Although taking breaks, forming friendships, maintaining a healthy diet, and sleeping well might help you to keep stress at bay and focus on the positive side of life.

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