We rely on efficiency, competitiveness, and perfection in today’s world, which causes stress levels to rise. We encounter stressful situations no matter which direction we face. In addition, the tension, unpleasantness, and irritation caused by pandemics, war, crimes, problems at work or school, and domestic difficulties frequently test our tolerance and patience. Therefore, the toll stress takes on our mental and physical health needs to be appropriately assessed. 

For a vast majority of people, stress directly impacts weight. As a result, many people experience unintentional weight loss, which can typically be brought on by stress. However, it is not a healthy way of losing weight since the long-term repercussions of stress on the human body are severely grave and damaging. Therefore, monitoring your weight loss if it is induced by stress is essential. 

This article explores how stress causes you to lose weight, why this is not healthy, and methods to combat stress-induced weight loss.

Understanding Stress and its Adverse Effect

Stress is a state of exertion, either emotional or physical. Any circumstance or thought that gives you annoyance, rage, or anxiety can trigger stress. Sometimes, stress proves advantageous, like it can help you meet a deadline or push you to work hard. Your body responds to a challenge or demand with acute and chronic stress, affecting your lifestyle choices and internal biological processes.

The recognition that stress can cause serious diseases has been a hot topic for research since it affects weight at multiple levels. While stress causes headaches, poor diet, and disturbances in sleep cycles in many people, it has worse consequences such as unexplained weight loss. However, the impact of stress on weight varies from person to person, based on their habits. For example, while some people lose weight due to stress-induced loss of appetite, others gain weight due to stress-induced overeating.

The HealthifyMe Note

Stress is not a healthy way to reduce body weight since it seriously affects your mental and physical well-being. It can disrupt your body’s internal functioning. Additionally, you should be aware that the impact of stress on weight might differ from person to person and change based on the circumstances unique to each person. 

4 Harmful Ways Stress Can Mess With Your Weight

Weight loss due to stress is mainly attributable to stress-induced appetite reduction, hormonal changes, nervous movements of the body, or metabolic factors like cortisol production and gastrointestinal disruptions.

Changes in Hormonal Balance

Your body prepares for an “acute stress response” by generating hormones like adrenaline. According to research, adrenaline can reduce your urge to eat while simultaneously preparing your body for strenuous activity. It is due to the neurological system telling the adrenal glands above the kidneys to initiate a “fight-or-flight” response. This heightened mental state momentarily suppresses appetite. But this adrenaline rush doesn’t last long, and soon after, you’ll feel tired, and the same vicious cycle continues.

Appetite Reduction

Stress can throw off your eating habits. It urges you to adopt poor eating habits during stressful situations and decreased appetite by hormonal changes. When under a lot of stress, it’s possible that you won’t be able to think clearly. It may cause you to skip meals or eat little or nothing, negatively impacting your eating habits. You may not even feel hungry or forget to eat when under stress. These variables collectively lead to unhealthy weight reduction.

Gastrointestinal Distress

Stress alters your metabolism, which results in weight loss. In addition, it interferes with the brain’s ability to communicate with the gastrointestinal (GI) system, which makes GI symptoms more noticeable. Many GI symptoms, including nausea, gas, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, bloating, and difficulty swallowing, can be brought on by stress. These signs may influence a person’s eating patterns, resulting in weight loss.

Extreme Weight Loss

Your body burns calories through physical activity when you resort to workouts to deal with stress. Consequently, this can cause weight loss. Some people release their stress by engaging in strenuous physical activities. Exercise-induced endorphin rushes might help you feel less stressed, but excessive physical activity may cause unanticipated weight loss. 

People under stress are prone to involuntary movements like foot-tapping and fidgeting without even being aware of what they are doing. One new theory here is that little exercise done often enough can burn calories as you do vigorous exercise less frequently. For instance, eight hours of vigorous foot-tapping in the office due to stress may equal one workout session in the gym. 

The HealthifyMe Note

Loss of appetite is usually the consequence of acute stress. In contrast, chronic stress can be attributable to lifestyle changes (reduction in food consumption). Gastrointestinal disruptions, nervous body movements, exercise, and hormonal changes can also lead to unexpected weight loss. Even though losing weight seems like a ‘benefit’ of stress, the severe consequences stress has on your body are far too grave to be ignored. Therefore, if you are losing weight and under a lot of stress, you must seek help. It is considering your overall health in the long run.

Preventing Stress-Induced Weight Loss

It is important to note that when things calm down in acute stress, your body usually returns to normal functioning, and your appetite returns. However, this is not usually the case with chronic stress. Therefore, in the long run, adopting habits such as those mentioned above to manage stress can significantly increase your control over your body’s weight and overall health.

Prioritising Meals

You can take steps to gently get back into a regimen if stress has negatively affected your eating habits. Fighting stress-related weight loss may require maintaining a regular eating pattern. Try not to skip meals and either set reminders during meal times or make a partner, friend, or family member hold you accountable for skipping meals. We advise you to eat portions of nutritious food instead of entirely skipping a meal.

Exercising/Yoga

Working out is a wonderful way to release endorphins and reduce stress. However, if you decide to exercise to deal with stress, you need to consume adequate pre and post-workout meals and exercise for not more than 60 minutes a day to prevent over-exercising. In addition, it will ensure that you do not unintentionally lose too much weight.

Fun Outdoor Physical Activities

If you find the gym boring, you can try engaging in various other physical activities to reduce stress. Camping, trekking, cycling, and dancing are some activities that release endorphins, boost mood, and are fun and engaging.

Improve Your Mindspace

You can manage stress simply by improving your mind space. For example, getting regular sleep, meditating, or practicing breathing exercises to calm yourself down whenever you feel overwhelmed by stress.

Reduce Isolation

Some people find it helpful to talk to other people to de-stress. Talking to friends, family, or a therapist about what is making you feel stressed can give you an outlet. It can help to voice your inner feelings and help you get advice on dealing with whatever is troubling you.

When you realise that you are losing weight due to stress and stress-reduction tactics fail to work, it is a good idea to ask your physician or a health coach for advice. Additionally, suppose unintended weight loss occurs frequently. In that case, you should see a doctor because it may indicate a more severe condition. Your specialist may be able to identify the reasons for such weight loss and suggest suitable medical interventions. 

Conclusion

Weight loss and stress are interconnected. The unintentional weight loss that results from stress is undesirable and may harm your overall health. Weight loss associated with stress is common, whether it be from skipping meals, experiencing digestive problems, or engaging in intense exercise as a coping method. There are several self-help methods you can do to reduce stress. You may prevent stress-related weight loss by developing a support network, learning to handle stress through meditation, and making sure you routinely eat nourishing meals. You should see a doctor if you cannot manage stress, or encounter persistent, unintentional weight loss.

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