How Stress Affects your Fat Loss

Being stressed is making you fat

Stress is also preventing you from losing fat

A recent study demonstrated that going through a stress management program in overweight and obese adults resulted in significant weight loss results, improved eating behaviour and reduced feelings of stress and depression for many participants. Read more here

What is stress?

Stress is the body's natural response to feeling threatened or under pressure. It's very common. As well as an emotion it is a physical response. As your body perceives stress, the adrenal glands release cortisol into your bloodstream. This primitive fight or flight response is what has kept humans alive for thousands of years. Low-level stress can even be helpful or motivational.

Your body cannot distinguish non-life threatening stressors and life threatening stressors. Therefore the brain's response to a very high stress day in the office or inconvenient traffic is the same as being chased by a rhino (though perhaps not quite to the same degree). Because of the modern age we live in, we are constantly exposed to potential stressors, far in excess of what the stress response was originally designed for. In today’s fast paced world many of us are over stressed, overworked and under rested.

This is a problem. Chronic stress puts the body into overdrive leading to multiple problems such as insomnia, excess belly fat, anxiety, depression and extreme fatigue. If you do not manage your stress, your health will suffer.

How is stress affecting your body and fat loss?


Long term and chronic stress will have a significant impact on your body's ability to produce and balance your natural hormones. These hormones are the chemical messengers which control your entire body. An imbalance can lead to many problems like high blood pressure anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue and adrenal burnout. It can also lower testosterone which can lead to a reduction in your muscle mass. All of these things will be making it harder and harder to lose weight!


Naturally cortisol should be high in the morning and taper off through the day to be low in the evening, allowing your body to unwind and prepare for sleep. Chronic stress will mean cortisol is released at all hours of the day resulting in an inverted roller coaster. If you are ever really tired in the morning and then have a second wind of energy preventing you from sleeping at night then this might be you!

Your sleep plays an absolutely critical role in the regulation of your body and hormones. If you are under recovered and not well rested you will feel more hungry, and less satisfied by the meals you eat. Your body will also be less effective during the day and at your workouts. Meaning you expend less overall energy; making fat loss much harder.


High levels of stress lead to poor habits and poor eating behaviour. Food choice is likely to be worse when stress levels are high. When this is combined with the other factors presented above it is easy to see why weight loss can feel so difficult and frustrating.

What can you do about it?

Getting more sleep, regular exercise (that you enjoy) and deep breathing and or meditation techniques can serve as excellent stress relievers. Managing your time effectively can be very helpful to manage stress levels. Take time for yourself and do not overstep or overbook yourself. Once you begin to properly take care of yourself, usually everything else falls into place.

Stress management, especially for the busy professional, is incredibly important for any long term lifestyle change. That is why the DevWestLifestyle 3 stage method includes stress assessment, tracking and management strategies which empower you to understand how you are feeling, what is causing those feelings and create lasting change.

If you need help managing your stress and weight loss email me to see how I can help you.

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