How Stress Makes You Fat

Do you ever feel like stress is taking over your life? It turns out that stress doesn’t just mess with your mood — if you are like many people — stress makes you fat. In particular, stress makes it easier to gain weight, especially around your belly.

When it comes to gaining weight, it’s not just about how much you eat. Your body also has a say in where it stores that extra fat. And one of the big players in this game is cortisol, a hormone your body releases when you’re stressed.

How Cortisol Works for You and Against You

Cortisol is like your body’s alarm system for danger. But if you’re constantly stressed, your body keeps pumping out cortisol, and that’s where the trouble starts. High levels of cortisol team up with another hormone called insulin to pack on the pounds, especially around your middle.

So, even if you’re eating pretty healthy, stress could still be making you gain weight in places you don’t want. It’s like your body’s ignoring your efforts to stay fit and trim.

But that’s not all. Too much cortisol can cause even more problems:

  1. Messing with Your Insulin: Cortisol can make your body less sensitive to insulin, which could lead to diabetes down the road.
  2. Bringing You Down: High cortisol levels are linked to feeling down in the dumps, making it harder to stay positive.
  3. Raising Your Blood Pressure: Cortisol helps control your blood pressure, but too much of it can send your numbers soaring, which isn’t good for your heart.
  4. Giving You a Headache: Stress can literally give you a headache. High cortisol levels can make your head pound, adding to your stress levels even more.

Taking Action to be Healthier

It’s clear that stress isn’t just a mental burden—it can also take a toll on your body, making it easier to gain weight and causing other health issues. But there are things you can do to fight back.

Try incorporating stress-busting activities into your daily routine, like going for a walk, practicing deep breathing, or spending time with friends and family. Getting enough sleep every night and eating a balanced diet can also help keep cortisol levels in check.

Another way to avoid the pitfalls of high cortisol production is to avoid the stressors in your life. These stressors consist of people, places, and things that make you irritable, angry, frustrated, and cause undue strain on your emotional well being. In other words, if it stresses you out, find ways to cut it out of your life.


Yet one more method that people successfully use to lower their cortisol levels is to stop eating so much. The human body is optimized when it is fed a meal two or three times per day. During times when we are not eating, our bodies natural process includes the production of insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) in the liver. IGF-1 helps counter the effects of cortisol, aid us in repairing our bodies and, yes, can also raise our metabolism and assist in weight loss. When we eat too many times per day, especially when we “graze” on snacks for large periods of time, minimal amounts of IGF-1 are produced and we cannot benefit from its natural characteristics.

By taking steps to manage your stress, you can not only improve your mood but also protect your body from the harmful effects of cortisol. So next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, remember to take a deep breath and give yourself a break.

A Word on Exercise

How about exercise? Often promoted as a way to reduce stress, for many, exercising intensely can cause cortisol levels to rise and thus make it more likely that your body will suffer the negative impact that the hormone can cause.

If you are looking to lose weight and reduce the amount of fat on your body, then it is advised to stick to light to moderate exercises like walking rather than intense “Bootcamp” style exercise sessions which can have negative effects on the amount of cortisol in your system.

Worried that you won’t burn enough calories walking? Don’t worry, reducing your food intake by not snacking and grazing, as mentioned earlier, will do more than make up for the lack of intensity in your workouts.

Dr. Amir’s Weight Loss and Metabolism Center

At Dr. Amir’s Weight Loss and Metabolism Center, we understand that the path to a healthier weight is unique for every individual. Our approach goes beyond traditional weight loss strategies; we offer a comprehensive program designed to address the specific needs of overweight and obese patients.

Our programs leverage the power of carefully curated meal replacements. These options are not just about cutting calories; they are a fusion of nutrition and taste, ensuring that your body receives the essential elements it needs for sustained health. From protein-packed shakes to wholesome soups, we provide a variety of options tailored to your preferences.

At Dr. Amir’s Weight Loss and Metabolism Center, we understand that your body’s composition plays a key role in determining your overall health. After all, we realize that you come to us to lose fat, not water or muscle! Therefore, we employ advanced body composition testing to monitor changes in fat mass, muscle mass, and overall body composition. This data is a compass, guiding us to make precise adjustments to your plan as needed, ensuring that you’re on the right track.

Your health is our priority. Regular check-ups are an integral part of our program. We monitor your progress, address any concerns, and provide ongoing support to keep you motivated and on course. Our team is here to celebrate your successes and guide you through challenges.

If you’ve been grappling with obesity or being overweight and you’re considering a fad diet or fad treatment, our bariatric doctor, Dr. Rotem Amir, will work with you to create a plan that aligns with your health goals and lifestyle. Contact us via our contact form or book an initial consultation with us today.

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