Stress and weight gain: shedding light on science behind the struggle

We need to be more aware of stress and how damaging it can be on entire health system

Vahdaneh Vahid
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As we have evolved, the human stress response has saved lives when people have found themselves in dangerous circumstances.

Today, we turn on – all the time - the same life-saving physical reaction to cope with intense and on going stressors. Unlike animals which have the ability to switch on their stress response only during life threatening circumstances, we can’t seem to turn ours off and are largely incapable of returning to homeostasis.

What is homeostasis?

The human body manages a multitude of highly complex interactions to maintain balance or return all the systems in the body to functioning within a normal range. This communication makes possible any changes that occur to both the physical and psychological functions within the body.


This process is essential to the survival of any human being and to our species. The liver, the kidneys and the brain (hypothalamus, the autonomic nervous system and the endocrine system) all help maintain homeostasis.

A lack of ability to maintain homeostasis can lead to disease or even death. To meet the demands of our daily stress, our body releases a hormone from our adrenal glands called Coristol. If we are under prolonged stress, the body enters into a state of breakdown referred to as a catabolic state.

Catabolic means to neurologically rope in the physiology “break down” of our muscles, tissue and bone. When this dysfunction is created it limits the anabolic system of your physiology, which is responsible for repairing and building our muscles and tissues.

So, if we attempt to try to lose weight and gain muscle it will become a huge ongoing battle for us. This is why we result in taking drastic measures nowadays, such as taking hormones, weight loss pills, drugs - the list is endless.

How stress affects everything in our body

Our brain also prioritizes any stress response over reproduction. Circulation is even cut off to our digestion system and the blood is instead delivered to our muscles, as the brain interprets “stress” as an life threatening situation so it needs to deal with it immediately.


The final point is that we need to be more aware of stress and how damaging it can be on entire health system.

So bear in mind, if your’re struggling to lose weight or trying to build more muscle, it will be the last thing your body will prioritize when we are constantly simulating our stress levels. Whether its psychology (mental) or physiology (physical), all are interrupted identically at the cellular level which simply means that it influences every single cell in our body.

Learn to become conscious of the fact that we need address the root cause of problem, that being reducing our stress response throughout our daily lives.

This will eventually lead our bodies to become more balanced, creating an environment of homeostasis within.

Once we have reached this stage, our bodies’ priorities will no longer be the stress responses that keep arising and the body will focus more on building a healthy anabolic environment that will enhance our well-being and fitness goals and most importantly , our body will work towards becoming disease free for the future!

The video below explains the topic in more detail and sheds light on personal struggles with stress and weight gain. You are not alone!

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