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We are often asked, “Can anxiety make you gain weight? Are my high levels of anxiety and/or stress the reason that I’m struggling to keep off the pounds?”
The sad truth is that our lives are becoming more and more stressful with every passing day. The pressures of work, home, and the world around us can increase both our stress levels and our anxiety. Rates of anxiety and depression are on the rise, and with them, so are obesity rates.
Below, we’re going to look closer at the question “Can anxiety make you gain weight?” and drill down deep into the link between anxiety and weight gain. By the time you reach the end, you’ll know the truth, and you’ll be armed with the knowledge needed to take steps to combat anxiety-induced weight gain.
Can Anxiety Make You Gain Weight? The Answer is, Sadly, Yes
Anxiety can make you gain weight in a number of ways:
It slows your metabolism – Anxiety and stress often go hand in hand, and they can trigger some pretty nasty physiological changes. For example, when you are stressed and anxious, your body responds as if it’s in “crisis mode”. It shuts down all “unnecessary” functions and produces a rush of adrenaline in preparation of your “fight or flight” response.
Unfortunately, your metabolism is one of the functions deemed unnecessary. You become less effective at digesting food and utilizing the nutrients absorbed via your digestive system, so more gets stored as fat—leading to weight gain.
It increases your appetite – After a surge of adrenaline (triggered by your stress/anxiety), your body will often feel the need to eat to replenish the energy it believes it lost during the time of “crisis”. However, because there was no crisis—and thus no big expenditure of energy—there is nothing to be replenished. When you eat (the response to your increased appetite), your muscles are already full of energy, so everything you eat gets turned into stored fats.
It triggers hunger pangs – Stress and anxiety can interfere with healthy sleep. You spend more time awake at night, have a harder time falling asleep, and may wake up earlier. This can lead to fatigue—which, unfortunately, your brain sometimes misinterprets as hunger. Sleep loss is linked to increased eating because your body thinks your low energy levels are the result of insufficient food, so it tries to make up for it by eating more. The real cause of the low energy levels, however, is lack of sleep caused by stress.
It causes you to eat unhealthy – When you are stressed or anxious, your brain sends signals craving some form of comfort—which, in many cases, is food. You crave comfort foods, rich foods with a lot of fats and sugars, and often very low nutritional value. If you give in to these cravings (and let’s be honest, most of us do), you accelerate weight gain because your body has very few real nutrients to utilize and a lot of “junk” (sugar and fat) that it ends up storing as body fat.
It prevents you from exercising – Stress and anxiety can impair your life in a number of ways, not the least of which is your ability to exercise. Exercise is often the first of your daily activities to be sacrificed on the altar of anxiety. You’re so worried about everything you have to do that you end up skipping your workout to do more work, deal with duties at home, or socialize to “blow off steam”.
A lack of exercise can lead to serious weight gain. Not only does your metabolism function more slowly—burning fewer calories throughout the day—but you are more vulnerable to the psychological effects of stress, depression, and anxiety without the exercise-induced rush of endorphins to balance our your neurochemical balance.
A lot of research has been done to prove the conclusive link between anxiety and weight gain. One study from 2009 looked at the health of more than 4,300 government workers in their middle ages (35 to 55 years of age). The research found that obesity did not increase the risk of anxiety, depression, or mental disorders. However, the same was not true in reverse. Those who suffered from mental disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder or depression, had a much higher risk of being or becoming obese.
The good news is that anxiety doesn’t have to be a part of your life, and it doesn’t have to guarantee that you’ll gain weight and become obese! You can take steps to address your anxiety, combat stress, and manage your mental health to stay physically healthy, too!
Can Anxiety Make You Gain Weight? Combat Both Obesity and Anxiety with Yoga Lean
With Yoga Lean, you’ll have the tools to combat both obesity and anxiety!
Yoga Lean is a Yoga-based workout program that will have you sweating bullets and working to the limits of your endurance from Day 1—and every day thereafter. You’ll see real muscle growth, strength gains, better cardiovascular function, and improved mobility and flexibility, all thanks to the amazing physiological benefits of Yoga workouts.
And through the Yoga sessions, you’ll learn deep breathing techniques and meditative/mindfulness practices that help you to manage your anxiety. The program will arm you with the mental fortitude you need to resist anxious, stressed thoughts, empowering you to keep your life firmly on track for yourself. You’ll walk away from every Yoga workout stronger in mind and body. You can regain control of your mental and physical health, banishing both obesity and anxiety.
Give Yoga Lean a try, and you’ll never again have to ask “Can anxiety make you gain weight?” because you’ll shed both extra pounds and unwanted anxieties!
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