Fat Facts

How Stress Causes Weight Gain

There are many factors that can cause weight gain. One of them is stress. A little stress now and then isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but excessive stress sustained over a long period of time can be toxic. It can affect your hormone balance and your daily habits, and both of these changes can make it difficult to achieve weight loss in Rita Ranch, Tucson, Vail, and Sierra Vista.

Cortisol Levels

When humans encounter a stressful situation, their bodies automatically react with the “fight or flight” response. This results in the release of a flood of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol. In short, small doses, these hormones aren’t necessarily bad. However, people encounter stressful situations on a frequent basis in modern life. As a result, cortisol levels continue to increase. Among other effects, cortisol causes people to crave foods with high sugar and fat content for quick energy bursts. And of course, this results in weight gain.


Recent research indicates that chronic stress may be linked to weight gain in another way. Scientists have discovered that people who report experiencing stressors the previous day, and who then proceed to eat a meal that is high in fat and calories, will burn fewer calories than people who do not report experiencing stressors and who eat the same meal. The difference in calorie burn might be slight on a day to day basis. However, when added up over the course of a year, it equals over 10 pounds.

Behavioral Changes

Stress can change the way people behave.

For example, people might not exercise if they are crunched for time. They might also not take the time to prepare healthy meals, relying instead on the drive-thru lane. Stress can also lead to emotional overeating. All of these temporary behavioral changes may become permanent habits over time, causing notable weight gain.

WildBerryMD provides customized weight loss solutions to improve your quality of life and support your long-term health. Do you want to learn more about improving your health? Call us today at (520) 762-1557 to learn more about our programs for weight loss in Rita Ranch, Tucson, Vail, and Sierra Vista.