It is fair to say it can be difficult to maintain a healthy diet when you are stressed. Whether you're eating to satisfy an emotional need or you're grabbing fast food because there's no time to prepare something healthy, stress rarely makes for a healthy lifestyle.
According to some researchers, weight gain when under stress may also be due to the body's system of hormonal checks and balances, which can actually promote weight gain. So what is the stress hormone, you ask?
Cortisol has been termed the "stress hormone" because, during times of physical or psychological stress, cortisol levels rise. The hormone cortisol has many functions in the human body.
As an energy source and blood pressure regulator, cortisol plays a huge role in the body. In addition to stimulating fat and carbohydrate metabolism, cortisol releases insulin to maintain blood sugar levels. Therefore, all of these behaviours can increase appetite and increase cravings for sweet, fattening, or sour foods.
As cortisol levels rise, the body produces less testosterone, which leads to a loss of muscle mass.