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Can stress prevent weight loss?


Gold Member
S: 16st8lb C: 13st4.6lb G: 10st10lb BMI: 30.3 Loss: 3st3.4lb(19.57%)
Basically I ask because over the past 7 weeks, I've only lost 1lb (through gains/losses and STS) despite sticking to plan!

I did have 1 week off plan during that time where I gained 3lb and last week were I STS I did go over my syns slightly so fair enough. But appart from that I have been 100% on plan and am still only a lb lighter.

At first I though it might have been because I started running but even though I've kept that up, surely it wouldn't still be causing me problems 7 weeks on?

I've just had a bit of a eureka moment because I realised that 7 weeks ago I started writing my dissertation and then have gone on to start my final exams and so have basically been in a permenant state of STRESS for the past 7 weeks!!

Is it possible that being stressed out is somehow making my body cling on to fat or preventing me from burning calories, or am I just clutching at straws here?

Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated :)

EDIT: Just to add, previous to that my losses were averaging 1-2lb per week and i'm not doing anything different to then foodwise.
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I will be a Princess!
S: 18st2.5lb C: 18st2.5lb G: 11st0lb BMI: 41.1 Loss: 0st0lb(0%)
I had a look on the internet, and came up with this:

The Cortisol Connection

There is a natural, stress-related hormone called cortisol that may contribute to weight issues, particularly abdominal fat. High amounts of cortisol are released into the blood stream when you are under stress. Receptors for cortisol are located in your abdomen, which triggers fat storage there. In 2000, researchers found that women with a high waist-to-hip ratio -- both overweight and slim -- secreted more cortisol under stress and reported more stress in their daily lives than women with lower waist-to-hip ratios.

Additionally, excess cortisol may actually cause your metabolism to slow down. This could mean that even if you don't consume more calories than usual, you could gain weight. But since stress stimulates the appetite, it is likely that you take in more calories than usual when under stress, which only compounds the problem. Together, eating more calories and having a slower metabolism than usual is a "double-whammy" in the stress/weight connection; not only do you tend to take in more calories than usual, but you don't burn them efficiently, either.
It is unknown at this time exactly how cortisol may affect eating behaviors or appetite directly, but research is ongoing; whatever the cause, the tendency to eat those high-fat foods mentioned earlier may actually cause a vicious cycle of poor food choices. Women who eat high-fat diets have been shown both to have increased cortisol reactivity and greater preference for sweet foods, according to researchers at the University of California at San Francisco.
Though we now connect cortisol to weight gain, it is ill-advised to use pills to decrease or prevent cortisol-related weight gain. In 2004, the FTC cracked down on two widely-advertised products claiming to reduce weight gain caused by cortisol. As FTC Spokesperson Lydia B. Parnes said in the related news release, "No pill can replace a healthy program of diet and exercise."

How to Cope

Since lack of emotional support is so directly linked to women's tendency to stress-eat, it is important that you build your own support network. This could mean joining a support group or in-person weight-loss program. Or, it may be as simple as knowing which friend or family member you can turn to for support and motivation when you begin eating in response to stress. Whether they're an e-mail, phone call, or visit away, reaching out to others for help is crucial to getting the emotional support we crave.

Instead of reaching for a snack, walk outside for a brisk 5-minute walk or walk up and down some stairs a few times. A burst of activity may help suppress your appetite. Simply moving around or fidgeting may help alleviate tension, so if you have been seated at your desk or phone for a while, just get up and move a little even if you can‘t get away for an actual walk.
Get regular exercise; experts agree that regular physical activity is one of the most effective ways to deal with stress. It helps to regulate cortisol levels, it can help alleviate depression, and it will help you get a better night’s sleep (just don‘t exercise within a few hours of bedtime).
Consider relaxation exercises that will ease your anxiety without food, such as imagery and guided visualization, deep breathing, and meditation. Try an activity that combines relaxation with physical activity, such as tai chi or yoga.
Get enough sleep. If you don’t sleep well when you’re stressed, that may have an impact on your weight loss efforts, too. (Research has shown there may be a connection between lack of sleep and weight gain.) One of the best ways to get a handle on any type of emotional eating is to keep a food diary. Simply keeping a notebook of your food and beverage intake along with notations about your feelings before and after eating is a great start. Review the diary every few days to get a picture of what feelings prompt you to overeat, and take the time to think about alternatives to eating.

There seems to be a link between stress and people not losing weight, so your stress may be a contributing factor! Best of luck with your dissertation and exams though hun, and I'm sure the weight will start shifting soon :) xx


I will be a Princess!
S: 18st2.5lb C: 18st2.5lb G: 11st0lb BMI: 41.1 Loss: 0st0lb(0%)
Here was another article:

There are several ways in which stress can contribute to weight gain. One has to do with cortisol, a stress hormone. When we’re under stress, the fight or flight response is triggered in our bodies, leading to the release of various hormones.

Whether we're stressed because of constant, crazy demands at work or we're really in danger, our bodies respond like we're about to be harmed and need to fight for our lives (or run like heck). To answer this need, we experience a burst of energy, shifts in metabolism and blood flow, and other changes.
If you remain in this state for a prolonged amount of time due to chronic stress, your health becomes at risk. Aside from a host of other dangers, chronic stress can also cause weight gain -- which is why some products like Cortislim are marketed as diet aids.

Chronic stress and cortisol can contribute to weight gain in the following ways:
  • Metabolism -- Do you feel like you're prone to putting on more weight when you're stressed, even if you're eating the same amount of food as you always have? Too much cortisol can slow your metabolism, causing more weight gain than you would normally experience. This also makes dieting more difficult.

    Cravings -- OK, you're stressed. Do you reach for a nice salad or a pint of Ben & Jerry's? I'll bet on the latter. People experiencing chronic stress tend to crave more fatty, salty and sugary foods. This includes sweets, processed food and other things that aren’t as good for you. These foods are typically less healthy and lead to increased weight gain.

    Blood Sugar -- Prolonged stress can alter your blood sugar levels, causing mood swings, fatigue, and conditions like hyperglycemia. Too much stress has even been linked to metabolic syndrome, a cluster of health concerns that can lead to greater health problems, like heart attacks and diabetes.
  • Fat Storage -- Excessive stress even affects where we tend to store fat. Higher levels of stress are linked to greater levels of abdominal fat. Unfortunately, abdominal fat is not only aesthetically undesirable, it’s linked with greater health risks than fat stored in other areas of the body.
Stress and weight gain are connected in other ways:
  • Emotional Eating -- Increased levels of cortisol can not only make you crave unhealthy food, but excess nervous energy can often cause you to eat more than you normally would. How many times have you found yourself scouring the kitchen for a snack, or absently munching on junk food when you’re stressed, but not really hungry? More on what causes emotional eating.

    Fast Food -- Experts believe that one of the big reasons we’re seeing more obesity in our society these days is that people are too stressed and busy to make healthy dinners at home, often opting to get fast food a the nearest drive-thru instead.

  • Too Busy to Exercise -- With all the demands on your schedule, exercise may be one of the last things on your to-do list. If so, you’re not alone. Americans live a more sedentary lifestyle than we have in past generations, yet our minds seem to be racing from everything we have to do. Unfortunately, from sitting in traffic, clocking hours at our desks, and plopping in front of the TV in exhaustion at the end of the day, exercise often goes by the wayside.


Gold Member
S: 16st8lb C: 13st4.6lb G: 10st10lb BMI: 30.3 Loss: 3st3.4lb(19.57%)
Dudette, thank you that is all really helpfull! I'm actually a psychology student and alot of that makes sense based on what I have learned in my psychobiology lectures. Hopefully one these exams are over (next week yay!) i'll be able to start losing again :)


Gold Member
S: 16st8lb C: 13st4.6lb G: 10st10lb BMI: 30.3 Loss: 3st3.4lb(19.57%)
Ill be honest the only experience i have is of eating lots more when stressed.

I agree I would usually do this if wasn't sticking to plan but can honestly say I have been completely focused and my posrtion sizes are the same as always. Thank you though :)


Gold Member
S: 16st8lb C: 13st4.6lb G: 10st10lb BMI: 30.3 Loss: 3st3.4lb(19.57%)
Okay I've just done a quick search on here (probabaly should have done that first duh!) and found some people on the VLCD such as lipotrim and Cambridge reporting their losses slowing down when stressed, even if they haven't 'cheated'.

That clarifies it for me because I don't see how you could follow a diet like that and not lose weight, unless there was another factor in play.


Full Member
S: 14st6lb C: 12st13lb G: 10st13lb BMI: 28.8 Loss: 1st7lb(10.4%)
They always mention the stress in "the biggest loser" and how that can (and seemingly does in most cases) impede weight loss. So well done for not having gained!


Full Member
S: 18st10.5lb C: 14st2.5lb G: 12st0lb BMI: 28.5 Loss: 4st8lb(24.38%)
As julesy says i have also seen this on biggest loser and those guys really seem to know what they are talking about.

I hope your weight loss starts up again soon but a massive congratulation for not giving up and falling off the wagon.



Gold Member
S: 16st8lb C: 13st4.6lb G: 10st10lb BMI: 30.3 Loss: 3st3.4lb(19.57%)
Just wanted to report that I have been alot more relaxed this week and even though I have exams I feel prepared for them and have not been stressing. I lost 2lb :)

Possible coincidence but either way I'm happy!

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