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Can Stress Lead to Weight Loss?

Updated: Sep 7, 2023

Stress has a direct impact on one's weight, whether it causes weight gain or loss. This all varies based on many different factors and the person. In some cases, stress can lead to poor food choices and binge eating whereas, stress can result in little to no appetite at all. These scenarios are circumstantial and changes due to stress often subside once the stressor has passed.

Weight loss that is stress-related can often be paired with many other symptoms, that may include…

  • Headaches

  • Indigestion

  • Aches and pains

  • Tense muscles

  • Mood swings

  • Fatigue

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Lack of focus

  • Increased heart rate

  • Low sex drive

When you are dealing with a stressful situation, your body goes into “fight or flight” mode, or is also referred to as an “acute stress response.” This physiological process is a response to a perceived threat. When this happens, your body starts to release hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. The adrenaline prepares your body for intense physical activity and minimizes your desire to eat. While, cortisol temporarily suppresses your digestive, immune, and reproductive system responses.

Your body slows down these bodily processes while you are in “fight or flight” so you can focus on how to respond to the stressor that is present. However, this can cause gastrointestinal discomfort, like…

  • Stomach pain

  • Heartburn

  • Diarrhea

  • Constipation

These changes and discomfort can lead to eating less, which may result in weight loss.

Stress can put you in a place mentally, where the stressor is all you can think about. Unfortunately, this may affect eating habits that leave you feeling not hungry or may even forget to eat altogether.

In addition, when you are stressed, your body may process food differently. This is because stress directly affects your vagus nerve and which is responsible for how your body digests, absorbs and metabolizes food. This disruption may result in unwanted inflammation.

Now, I bet you may be wondering, at what point should I be concerned about weight loss that is stress-related? Generally speaking, if you have lost five percent of your body weight in a 6-12 month period, you should consult with your doctor. Doing so can help you determine whether your symptoms are stress related or due to another underlying condition.

However, there are a few things you can start today to lower your stress and not jeopardize your weight management…

  • Set reminders for mealtimes.

  • Try to stay away from processed foods, it can actually worsen how you feel overall.

  • Explore stress-management techniques, like meditation, prayer, or exercise.

  • Try Stress-Less, a supplement designed to promote relaxation and a healthy stress response.


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