Stress, Cortisol, and Weight Gain

In our business, it’s important that we understand the many different factors that affect weight.  Stress and anxiety are major ones.


Stress causes the body to produce cortisol, a hormone that is super-helpful in serious fight or flight situations, but not so much in modern day.  Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands, and sends signals to the brain to regulate blood pressure and immune functions.  A cortisol spike will signal your body to consume a lot of calories and put insulin production on hold.  These responses are all conditioned to increase energy and immunity to help a person fight off a predator or get out of a dangerous situation.  These days, it’s more likely that bills, bad drivers, or overscheduling is causing you to feel stress, not bears or wolves.  Chronic stress from everyday life can kick your cortisol production into overdrive leading to overeating.  In addition, cortisol has been linked to visceral abdominal fat.  This type of fat is dangerous because it surrounds vital organs and has been linked to cardiovascular disease.

We could list a bunch of ways to manage stress, but you’ve probably seen all of them before.  Here, we list 6 more unusual ways to help manage the stress in your life:

  • Pet or walk a dog – animals are known stress relievers
  • Volunteer – giving your time to a cause can do wonders for your perspective, sometimes making all those little stressors feel more insignificant
  • Laugh – book coffee time with your funniest friend, or rent a DVD that will crack you up
  • Have a mantra – repeat it when you start to feel that anxious feeling, couple of ideas “This too shall pass”, “It’s small stuff”, or “Letting it go now”
  • Make a playlist – whether it’s relaxing or uplifting, include your favorite jams
  • Smell lavender or coconut– both scents are known to relieve anxiety

And around here, we also recommend Relora, our favorite supplement for stress management.  Our patients love Relora for its ability to smooth out emotional ups and downs.  You can shop it on sale here this month for National Stress Awareness Month.  If you want to learn more about Garcia Weight Loss and Wellness, you can request a No-Cost Consult here.

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