Want To Lose Stress-related Weight Gain? Schedule These Health Checks Now

More than 1.9 billion people are obese worldwide. Stress causes sugar cravings and higher insulin levels that later trigger weight gain. Here’s how to beat the stress and lose the weight

29 Mar 2023

Are you gaining weight despite your best efforts to stay active and eat healthy? Do you know that stress and weight gain is related?

Gaining weight is not necessarily a result of consuming fats. Even if you aren't eating foods high in fat and sugar, you may have noticed that it is becoming difficult to lose weight.


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So, would you weigh less if you are experiencing less stress or managing it better? The science says yes. A 2022 study issued in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine reveals that globally, 39 per cent of men and 40 per cent of women are overweight. It is all about stress hormone (cortisol) that not only triggers cravings but also causes the body to store belly fat. The study further states that psychological distress and elevated cortisol secretion promote abdominal fat, a feature of the metabolic syndrome. The study also found that improvement in mindfulness, chronic stress, and cortisol awakening response (CAR) were associated with reductions in abdominal fat.


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How does stress cause weight gain?

According to a 2022 study published in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine, the stress hormone, cortisol, is responsible for weight gain. When stressed, the adrenal glands unleash adrenaline and cortisol hormones, and therefore, glucose (a primary source of energy) is released into the bloodstream. This energy is used in flight response to escape from a risky situation. In other words, the stress response is adaptive that prepares the body to deal with internal or external environmental issues.

Stress and sugar cravings: Since cortisol stimulates the release of insulin to maintain your blood sugar levels, it can also trigger sugar cravings and your appetite, generating cravings that could lead to weight gain. Consuming so much sugar provides lots of energy which is later stored mainly in the form of abdominal fat, which can be quite challenging to shed.

Stress and metabolism: Not only can cortisol induce hunger, but it can also slow down your metabolism. The findings in the Journal of Psychiatric Neuroscience And Therapeutics show that stress can alter metabolic reactions to high-fat meals in ways that promote obesity. Also, those with lots of stress, their body had higher insulin levels, a hormone that helps store fats.


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What are the risks of stress-induced weight gain?

When stress becomes unmanageable, serious and long-term health consequences can surface.

1. Depression: Depression (major depressive disorder) is a widespread chronic medical illness that can influence mood, thoughts, and physical health. According to a 2022 study issued in the journal Frontiers in Public Health, 1 out of 3 people in India suffers from depression and stress has been shown to be one of the most important risk factors of depression.

2. High blood pressure: The American Heart Association reveals that in a study of more than 400 adults with normal blood pressure, those who had high levels of stress hormones detected in their urine were highly likely to get high blood pressure in the future.

3. Insomnia: Untreated chronic stress can lead to insomnia. Insomnia is a sleep-deprived condition that almost two-thirds of the global population suffers from. As per a 2023 study published in Sleep Foundation, acute stress may also be caused by significant changes made to your bedroom or sleep space. However, people with anxiety have more chances of facing insomnia symptoms.

4. Broken heart syndrome: Extreme stress can lead to sudden, temporary weakening and dysfunction of the left ventricle, the large squeezing chamber of the heart. As per researchers, this type of heart failure occurs due to increased levels of stress hormones, like epinephrine and norepinephrine.

5. Heart disease: Higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol are linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular events, including heart attack and stroke, according to a study in the American Heart Association.

6. PCOS: Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is an endocrine disorder with a prevalence ranging from 3.7 per cent to 22.5 per cent among the Indian population. In this medical condition, stress and lifestyle factors reflects unexpected physiological results. 

7. Obesity: Stress forces the brain to produce an appetite-suppressing hormone called corticotropin-releasing hormone. During times of stress, signals are also sent to the adrenal glands that trigger their production of adrenalin, which temporarily suppresses any urge to eat as part of the fight-or-flight response. Ongoing stress, on the other hand, causes the release of a hormone called cortisol. This hormone increases a person’s appetite and high cortisol levels in response to stress compel the person to munch on snacks that add to the extra weight gain. 


Besides chronic diseases, stress can also compel people to follow or pick certain unhealthy habits, all of which can cause weight gain:

  • Emotional eating: Increased stress can compel a person to eat more than they normally would, and many end up eating unhealthy food that adds to their weight. 
  • Eating fast food: When hungry, people tend to eat whatever is infront of them. Hunger also triggers the craving to eat unhealthy food options with lots of carbohydrates and fats. 
  • Being inactive: With all the demands on your schedule, long commute to work and long desk work can leave little to no space for exercise and being active.


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How UR.Life can schedule health checks to diagnose the condition?

With Health Risk Assessments, UR.Life provide  holistic diagnostic tests that can cater to your individual needs. Whether its stress, weight gain or another ailment that prevents you from being completely healthy, our Health Risk Assessment will provide a complete analysis to help you feel your best. Our medical professionals ensure that routine health check-ups will never be an issue. Advanced laboratory technologies and certified methods ensure that you are always able to put your health first.

If you believe that  your weight gain is the result of stress, seeing a UR.Life medical expert can help you understand whether it is actually the case. An expert can recommend you further tests and check you vitals (such as thyroid functions) to determine the cause of weight gain. 

Health should be a priority always, and UR.Life helps you make it one. Our Corporate Wellness programme is designed to support and lift employees so they can be healthy and  bring their whole selves to work. Our holistic wellness approach caters to all aspects of your well-being.


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When stressed out, an individual's healthy habits like eating on time and working out regularly can plunge easily. Maintaining a proper routine can help make these healthy behaviours a habit and combat stress-related weight changes. Here are a few steps that can help you reduce the stress and ultimately prevent weight gain:

  • Prioritise fitness: Exercising 30 minutes daily is considered an effective strategy to reduce stress and manage weight.
  • Choose nutritious food options: You don't need to always load up on carbs or fats to make you feel better. Making sure your kitchen is well-stocked with a variety of foods will make it easier to grab a healthier option during times of high stress such as green tea, chocolates, almonds, and eggs.
  • Practise mindful eating: A study shows that overweight women who focused on eating without any distraction were able to avoid emotional eating better, and had lower stress levels, which led to less belly fat over time. Next time you eat a meal, try enjoying it without the distraction of your phone or the TV.
  • Monitor eating habits: Self-monitoring eating habits either by using an App or track your food intake or writing about what to put in your mouth in a food journal could improve your eating habits and control stress-induced weight gain.
  • Ditch caffeine and alcohol: Grabbing a cup of coffee or a glass of wine after a long stressful day may give a sense of relief temporarily. However, caffeine and alcohol also promote anxiety which disturbs the sleep quality and may lead to weight gain over time.
  • Include stress-relief activities: To relieve stress and cut down the additional weight, try to indulge in activities that can help you find solace such as reading a good book, taking a deep breath, listening to music, or going outdoors to enjoy nature.


Related story: Running For Weight Loss: Here’s What You Should Know


Mindfulness 101:Bring calm into your day with these daily tips. Sign up here.


With the UR.Life Corporate Wellness programme, we help you to invest in your well-being through seamless interventions and targeted medical treatments. Our holistic wellness approach caters to all aspects of your well-being. We ensure that you are able to bring your whole self to work.

With our medical professionals by your side, routine health check-ups will never be an issue. Advanced laboratory technologies back UR.Life’s Occupational Health Centers (OHC), and with highly qualified experts/technicians, we’re committed to delivering trusted and quality recommendations, modifications and advice to you.

Click here to learn more about the UR.Life Corporate Wellness programme and unlock better health.










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