How Stress Can Impact Your Weight

Stress can have a major impact on your health, making it difficult to lose weight and keep it off. Here’s what you need to know about the link between stress and obesity.

When you’re trying to balance any combination of work, school, kids, and a social life, sometimes weight loss is the last thing on your mind. The stressors of everyday life start to build up and before you know it your health is suffering.

One option for people struggling with obesity is to consider bariatric surgery. The treatment won’t eliminate all daily stressors, of course, but it can give you the support you need to lose weight and improve your health. Plus, unlike lifestyle changes alone, weight loss surgery helps regulate your hormones and jumpstart your metabolism, making it easier to lose weight — even when you’re stressed.

The Link Between Stress And Weight

When you’re stressed, your body releases hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. High levels of cortisol make you crave foods that are high in fat and sugar. If you’re feeling emotional, you’re more inclined to give in to comfort food cravings in an effort to relieve anxiety.

Losing sleep because of stress also negatively impacts your eating habits. If you’ve been staying up late working on an important project or just have trouble turning your mind off at night, this lack of sleep can result in weight gain. You’re less likely to make smart food choices when you’re tired and more likely to forgo an invigorating workout for a nap. 

In 2015, researchers at Ohio University conducted a study to see how stress impacts metabolism. Researchers asked a group of women about the stressors they had faced the previous day, and then fed them a meal high in fat and calories. On average, they found that the women who reported more stressors burned 100 fewer calories and had higher levels of insulin than the women who weren’t stressed. What’s more, high stress levels make you retain weight in your midsection, and those pounds are particularly difficult to lose. 

How Bariatric Surgery Can Help

In addition to the standard health benefits — reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, better sleep, reversal of Type 2 diabetes — weight loss surgery can make it easier to combat weight gain due to stress. For instance, bariatric surgery fights the physical and hormonal factors that contribute to obesity. 

Take gastric bypass, the most popular surgical option for long-term weight loss. After the procedure has reduced the size of your stomach, you’ll feel fuller faster and won’t be as tempted to overeat, even when you’re feeling stressed. The surgery also revs up your metabolism and controls the hormones that tell you you’re hungry, so stress is less likely to throw you off track. 

Tips For Managing Stress

Of course, weight loss surgery is just one step in a long journey to weight loss. Luckily, there are numerous strategies available to help you reduce stress and maintain a healthy weight. For instance, lifestyle changes like meditation and gentle exercise can help calm your mind. It’s also important to try your best to get a full eight hours of sleep and start your morning off in a relaxing way — do some stretches to wake yourself up or drink a tall glass of water. 

Be sure to carve out time in your day for activities that keep you mentally and emotionally healthy. It can be tempting to hunker down in times of stress, but spending time with friends (including pets!) can drastically reduce stress. If you’re a more introspective person, you can also check-in with yourself and de-stress by journaling.

Practicing some of these techniques can help you reduce your overall stress levels and solidify the stunning results you’ll receive from weight loss surgery. If you’re interested in learning more about your bariatric surgery options, contact the weight loss experts at Long Island Laparoscopic Doctors today!