5 Ways Stress Is Stopping You From Losing Weight

5 mins 02 Nov 21
by Embodyment with Ferne Fri, Oct 15, 21

How are your stress levels at the moment? Does life feel like it’s pulling you in so many different directions that you’re struggling to get anything done or actually complete any tasks? 

If so, you’re not alone. Stress affects so many of us because life, well, it’s very busy. Juggling home life, a career, financial worries, childcare, the kid’s school. It’s little wonder we’re stressed. 

Stress can cause headaches, anxiety, a low mood, low self-esteem, poor sleep and many other physical and emotional issues. But did you know that stress could also be causing you to gain weight or perhaps making it difficult for you to lose weight despite trying? 

Here’s five reasons why…

  • REASON 1 - When we’re stressed, our body releases the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol is a weight loss demon because it slows down our metabolism, meaning that we burn calories more slowly and then find it more difficult to lose weight. 


  • REASON 2 - A rise in cortisol also causes a rise in blood sugar and adrenaline that help us deal with the stress (in the short or long term). Sugar provides us with a quick boost of energy, so when our blood sugar levels decline again, cue the sugar cravings. We then reach for the nearest sugary treat (hello chocolate) to give us that boost again. The problem is, this is excess sugar and the body doesn’t know what to do with it – so it stores it as fat, particularly around our abdomen. This abdominal fat is then notoriously difficult to shed. 


  • REASON 3 - New studies now point to a protein called betatrophin that’s also increased when we’re stressed. Studies are beginning to demonstrate that betatrophin can make it more difficult for us to break down body fat, therefore making it more difficult for us to lose weight. 


  • REASON 4 - When we’re feeling stressed and under pressure, we’re also more likely to make unhealthy food choices. We might have run out of time to do a food shop or make a healthy meal or we might feel like we deserve a takeaway at the end of a stressful day. Which is perfectly fine as a treat! But if these unhealthy choices become a habit, they can lead to more emotional eating to deal with the ‘guilt’ of previous choices and suddenly we’re in a vicious cycle of poor food choices – the enemy of weight loss. 


  • REASON 5 - Being stressed can also make us slip up in other areas of our lives, such as using our emotional crutches to cope, including drinking more (calorie laden) alcohol, or avoiding exercise, such as going to the gym or enjoying outdoor walks.


It’s clear to see then, that stress really can interfere with our ability to lose weight. But know that it’s not your fault, these responses are all part of being a normal biological human. Taking steps to reduce stress such as talking to friends and colleagues, practicing mindfulness and spending time doing the things we enjoy can help. 

If stress is affecting your enjoyment of life, try speaking to your GP who can refer you for a talking therapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) which many people find extremely helpful for dealing with stress. 

You’ve got this, you fabulous human being x