Stress and Cortisol

I have a Type-A personality and I’ve been called an overachiever by friends. Over the past 4 months I was taking 4 classes while working full-time with a large commute. I’m stressed and burnt out. I started to experience unexplained weight gain without changing my diet and exercise…. (Ok, maybe that’s a lie because when I’m home doing homework it sparks my appetite.) However, it is scientifically proven that stress releases cortisol which has a direct correlation on weight gain. The cortisol hormone stimulates appetite which could be why I would get hungry when studying.

Now, I did not deep dive into peer review journals for this post, however, there are plenty out there on the interwebs. So I encourage you to do you own research to learn more on this topic. 

There are numerous effects of stress and cortisol on body. The body’s hormone balance may produce weight gain when stressed. Stress releases cortisol into the body. and surprises the thyroid. Specifically, the body will gain weight in abdomen region. “Over time, persistently high levels of cortisol seen in stress promote the storage of excess glucose as fat in the abdomen, causing belly fat” (Astorino) This over production of cortisol can effect both weight training and running. 

While under a period of stress our body starts to develop a natural fight-or-flight response to stressors. “When you’re stressed out, your body wants to defend itself, so it starts to retain body weight” (Miller)

Want my advice? Sometimes stress is a part of our life. You may be in a stressful job but maybe not in a financial position to change jobs. In my case, I had to finish school. Taking semesters off or taking less classes per semester would only drag out the process and prolong my situation. The quickest way to end my stress was to complete 4 classes and graduate. 

To combat stress practice resiliency. Look at your stress and know it is temporary, write out a timeline and start a countdown until the stress will end. When I was going through the semester I would often remind myself that I am blessed to have college opportunity and financial means to attend school. In other words, I was blessed to have this stress. 

Another tip for handling stress is to keep physically active. There were days were I skipped my workout to complete homework and there were days when I did not want to run. At the vary least, I would walk or use the elliptical just to keep moving. 

How do you deal with stress?

Works Cited:

Astorino, D. M. (2019, January 31). Stress Really Can Make You Gain Weight, Especially in Your Belly – Here’s Why. Retrieved December 22, 2019, from

Miller, K. (2016, December 15). You Can Gain Weight From Stress, Even If You Eat and Work Out the Exact Same. Retrieved December 22, 2019, from


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