How Reducing Stress Can Help You Lose Weight

Stress is a common part of modern life, and it can affect our health in numerous ways. In particular, stress has been linked to weight gain, making it an important factor to consider for those looking to maintain a healthy weight.

Here, we explore the science behind how stress can lead to weight gain and what steps you can take to reduce your stress levels.

Stress and Weight Gain: The Science

When we experience stress, our bodies release a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone” because it is released in response to stress and is involved in the body’s stress response. Cortisol plays a role in regulating metabolism, blood sugar levels, and fat storage.

Research has shown that elevated levels of cortisol can contribute to weight gain, particularly in the abdominal area. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that individuals with higher levels of cortisol in their saliva had higher levels of abdominal fat. Another study published in the Journal of Obesity found that individuals with higher levels of cortisol had a higher body mass index (BMI) and were more likely to be obese.


Reducing stress can be a powerful tool for weight management. Here are some strategies for reducing stress:

  1. Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness practices, such as meditation and deep breathing, can help to reduce stress and promote relaxation.
  2. Exercise regularly: Regular exercise has been shown to reduce stress levels and support weight management.
  3. Get enough sleep: Sleep plays a critical role in managing stress levels. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night to support stress reduction and weight management.
  4. Seek social support: Connecting with friends and family can help to reduce stress and provide a support network for weight management.
  5. Consider counseling: If you’re struggling with stress and its impact on your weight, consider working with a mental health professional to develop coping strategies.

In conclusion, stress can be a significant barrier to weight management, but by reducing stress levels, you can support your weight management goals. Strategies such as mindfulness, exercise, sleep, social support, and counseling can all be effective in reducing stress and supporting weight management. By prioritizing stress reduction, you can achieve better overall health and wellbeing.

Scientific References:

Epel, E., McEwen, B., Seeman, T., Matthews, K., Castellazzo, G., Brownell, K., Bell, J., Ickovics, J., & Adler, N. (2000). Stress and body shape: stress-induced cortisol secretion is consistently greater among women with central fat. Psychosomatic Medicine, 62(5), 623-632.
Pasquali, R., Vicennati, V., & Cacciari, M. (2000). The hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activity in obesity and the metabolic syndrome. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 917, 193-206.
Torres, S. J., & Nowson, C. A. (2007). Relationship between stress, eating behavior, and obesity. Nutrition, 23(11-12), 887-894.
Ulrich-Lai, Y. M., & Ryan, K. K. (2014). Neuroendocrine circuits governing energy balance and stress regulation: functional overlap and therapeutic implications. Cell Metabolism, 19(6), 910-925.