The Impact of Stress on Weight Loss and How to Manage It

We all know stress is unpleasant and can affect our productivity and mood. However, very few people have ever considered the impact of stress on their weight loss goals. Yet, studies and science show that stress can significantly impact weight loss in various ways. Therefore, in this article, we will examine how stress impacts weight loss and how you can manage it to still arrive at your body weight goals.

How does stress affect your weight loss goals?

There are several ways that stress can affect your weight loss goals, and we detail the major ones below:

1. Stress impacts your brain and makes it difficult to follow your dieting plan

The brain is central to all the activities that you perform; therefore, whatever impacts your brain can affect your activities. Unfortunately, stress profoundly affects the brain, especially the prefrontal cortex (PFC). The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain responsible for planning and helping you make good decisions. It is also responsible for willpower and the ability to say “no” to our emotions. However, stress erodes PFC such that when you are stressed, your brain typically moves into autopilot decision-making to deal with the stress.

Now, how does this affect your weight loss goals? It does so by tampering with your choice of food. When you are stressed, your body will automatically demand high-calorie foods or foods you are familiar with. Meanwhile, such foods may not be good for you, making it easy to toss out your healthy diet plans. Therefore, during intense, stressful periods, you will find it easier to pick up a snack that makes you feel better than stick to your calorie goals for the day.

2. Stress affects cortisol levels

Cortisol is the hormone in your body that is released when your body comes under stress. When it is released, your body experiences high energy levels that keep you alert. However, while cortisol has a useful function in the body, research has revealed that high levels of cortisol in the body limit weight loss and even encourage weight gain. Some of the effects of cortisol on the body that impact your weight loss goal include:

  • It promotes fat: If you notice that you keep hitting the gym and eating all the right food items, but it doesn’t seem like you are making any progress, then chances are you are battling excess cortisol. Cortisol converts nutrients in your body into fat to give you extra energy when you’re stressed. Therefore, no matter what you eat or do, if you are perpetually stressed, you will have so much fat produced in your body.
  • It boosts appetite: Cortisol also stimulates your appetite, encouraging you to consume more calories than you need or plan.

Some other ways that stress affects weight loss and can hinder progress include:

  • Chronic sleep and fatigue lead to an increase in the hunger hormone called “Ghrelin.”
  • Muscle gain as a result of prolonged recovery.
  • Inability to stay consistent with essential routines.

How can you manage stress to remove its impact on your weight loss journey?

To stop the impact of stress on your weight loss journey, a couple of actions can help you achieve this. However, it is important to note that these actions and habits will not entirely eliminate stress from your life (that is impossible). Still, they will help you manage stress levels in a way that ensures your brain and cortisol levels do not work against your weight loss plan.
Some of the habits that weight loss specialists in Nashville recommend can help you manage stress include:

1. Exercise

Exercising, even if it is just a walk, helps to circulate blood more quickly through your body, which ensures that cortisol is transferred rapidly to your kidneys and flushed out. However, it would be best if you were careful not to undergo exercise routines that overwork you and cause stress for your body. Therefore, we recommend that if you are feeling stressed, you can have light exercises that help you relax and take care of the stress.

2. Sleep

Sleep is a great way to calm your body, balance cortisol levels, and give your system a fresh restart. Therefore, you must have a healthy sleeping pattern. You should also avoid substances like caffeine and alcohol once it is close to bedtime, so they don’t hinder your sleep. Other tips that will help you enjoy the quality and stress-relieving sleep include:

  • Use quality bedding and sleep materials designed to aid in comfortable and restful sleep.
  • Do away with gadgets and technological appliances about an hour before bed.
  • Have a sleep routine, such as reading before sleeping or playing music.
  • Avoid heavy naps in the afternoon, especially late afternoon.
  • Go to bed at a fixed time and wake at a fixed time.
  • Try to put out or dim all lights in the room when you sleep.

3. Eat Healthy Comfort Food

When you are stressed, your body may look to consume comfort food to feel better. Most comfort foods are unhealthy and will impact your weight loss target negatively. Nonetheless, research shows that there are healthier comfort foods that you can consume to feel relieved without jeopardizing your weight loss goals. An excellent example of such is air-popped popcorn.

4. Watch Out for When You Are Getting Stressed

If you are on a weight loss program, pay attention to your body and its stress signs. This allows you to schedule rest periods and perform stress-relieving activities.


Stress can be a big enemy in your weight loss journey. However, you don’t need to panic. You can manage stress and achieve your weight loss goals with quality sleep, good exercise, and mindful eating. Are you searching for a weight loss consultant in Nashville? Weight Loss Centers of Nashville have proven to be a reliable weight loss clinic, getting excellent results for many people in Nashville and its surrounding areas. Book a free consultation with us now.