Oh no! Is stress the reason behind your weight gain?

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Weight loss is difficult at the best of times, but when you are stressed, losing weight becomes even more difficult.

Stress is incredibly common – especially in mums, and it can have a real negative impact on helping you to lose stomach fat. And let’s face it – many of us would love nothing more than to say goodbye to tummy fat for good!


Stressful eating

Do you rely on food such as ice cream to help you feel happier at the end of a stressful day?

Do you often find yourself eating dinner leftovers? You’re not alone. Many people reach for their favourite comfort foods when they are feeling stressed (us included).

But what you might not realise is that we tend to have a tendency to consume foods that contain lots of sugar or fat when feeling stressed, instead of healthy foods.

This is because of a hormone called cortisol, which affects our stress levels.

Mum of two Julia Meadows (pictured above) who has lost 10kg* following The Healthy Mummy’s 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge knows that stress can have a negative effect on weight loss.

“For most of us, stress is a fact of life. Unfortunately, it’s also a fact of fat. So even if you usually eat well and exercise, chronic high stress can prevent you from losing weight. 

“Also if you are stressing about progress to the point that it is taking away from your quality of life, it may be important to re-evaluate why you are losing weight in the first place. If stress is elevated to a certain point, it may start to affect your progress.”

What’s the go with cortisol?

Oh No! Is Stress The Reason Behind Your Weight Gain?

Cortisol is a hormone that is released when you are stressed in some way.

It’s a natural hormone produced by our bodies that can be very useful in reducing stress levels, although it can sometimes become a bit of a problem – only when you have too much of it. If you are often stressed, or if you feel like you are constantly stressed throughout the day, cortisol will be released again and again – meaning that there is too much of it in your body.

If you have too high levels of cortisol in your body, you are more likely to have problems with weight gain and excess fat on your stomach. You’ll also be more likely to consume a diet rich in carbohydrates, as well as fatty, sugary foods. If you become stressed often, cortisol will be released often, which causes cravings for these “bad” foods – and this is due to two specific neurotransmitters within the brain, serotonin and neuropeptide Y, also known as NPY.

NPY is a bit of a baddie in the neurotransmitter world – it increases your cravings of “bad” foods, as mentioned before, but it can also cause problems with your fat storage – causing more energy to be converted and stored as fat, and it can block the receptors within your brain, which can cause continuous cravings for “bad” foods.

The problem with elevated cortisol

beauty skincare woman feel upset on green background
Source: Istock.

A major problem with elevated cortisol levels is that it can drastically effect where you store your fat. In particular, it can cause fat to be directed to your abdomen, leading to stomach fat.

An individual who is slim and otherwise healthy could have a pot belly or “tyre” around their tummy, and this is likely caused by heightened cortisol levels.

Reducing your stress

The good news is, by reducing your stress levels, you can prevent this build-up of cortisol within your body that causes cravings for bad foods – and so reducing your stress could mean that you actually eat more healthily, which is good for weight loss and for general health.

To reduce your stress levels, try meditation or deep-breathing techniques. Both of these can help you to relax and become generally less stressed, helping you to feel calmer and less anxious during stressful moments. If you feel like you are unable to deal with your stress alone, or you have tried stress busting techniques without any results, speak to your doctor for advice.

Check out our MIND, BODY & BREATH sessions

These are designed to help reduce stress and improve mood among pregnant women and early mums, enhance your connection with self-care practices and really thrive through the transformation of motherhood.


There are three Healthy Mummy MIND.BODY.BREATH sessions for you to choose from:

  • 3 minute
  • 5 minute
  • 10 minute

All Healthy sessions begin with a MIND.BODY.BREATH warm-up, to get you settled and prepared.

We recommend you begin your Healthy Mummy guided MIND.BODY.BREATH practice by doing it twice a week.

Start slow and gradually grow your practice so that it becomes a habit. Your aim is to be able to do it daily. Set a reminder for yourself as a morning or bedtime ritual. Find a time that works for you.

Find your inner peace and relax with the awesome MIND.BODY.BREATH.Sessions we now have on the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge.

Join the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge!

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Our 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge is an affordable, customisable weight loss program PROVEN to help mums reach their weight loss goals.

Our Challenge entails:

  • 28 days of at home exercise routines (no gym needed) – with video instruction
  • Customisable and breastfeeding friendly meal plans
  • Time-efficient exercises for busy mums – under 30 mins
  • Challenge combines Pilates exercises with interval and circuit training (HIIT)
  • Suitable for basic to advanced fitness levels
  • Home to thousands of EASY-TO-MAKE recipes!

To find out more on the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge click here.

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