Health wellness



An increasing number of studies have shown that Stress is a major factor in weight gain and obesity, and that the serious health issues linked with severe chronic stress are identical to those linked with obesity. The BCRX Kit contains Stress fighting HCG Drops that contain adaptogens Rhodiola Rosea, Maca and Astragalus Root. 

Scientific Studies Linking Stress to Weight Gain

Research at the University College London reported that a study of 10,000 civil servants found a link between work stress and metabolic syndrome, a condition where elevated levels of cortisol can cause insulin resistance and weight gain. The excess release of cortisol caused by chronic stress gives the body the message to store fat in the abdomen. The study showed that the more stress someone suffered, the more likely they were to develop the syndrome.

Studies conducted at the University of Leeds investigated the relationship between stress and eating behavior and found that stress disrupts people's normal eating habits. The stress was caused my minor work and non-work events, such as having an argument with a colleague or friend, losing keys, missing a deadline or having to give a presentation. Stress causes people to opt for unhealthy high fat and high sugar snacks in preference to healthier food choices. They also eat less than usual at their main meals, but consume significantly more between meal snacks. This was accompanied by a reduction in the consumption of vegetables. The study also found that mental stress was more likely to cause people to eat than physical stress and that emotional eaters tend to turn to food to avoid dealing with negative feelings. Women are more prone to 'stress eating' than men.

A study conducted by scientists from the University of Tromso in Norway found that 'night eating syndrome' was linked to stress and raised cortisol levels. The women with the syndrome ate at least half of their daily food intake after 8 p.m. and snacked at least once during the night.

Why Does Stress Cause Weight Gain?

Whenever we are stressed the brain instantly sets up a chain of events that turns our body chemistry upside down. This is a primitive response known as the 'fight or flight' response and it is there to protect us in dangerous situations; it helps us cope with challenging circumstances by placing us in the most advantageous physical condition to deal with them. In the developed world we rarely need this defense to protect us from attack by wild animals etc. and today the main source of stress comes from every day events. The 'fight or flight' response is triggered whenever we are challenged by almost anything that happens to us, from getting out of bed in the morning, driving the car, dealing with a difficult situation at work or coping with an unexpected traumatic event.

Stress triggers an adrenaline rush throughout the bloodstream. The mind becomes alert, the bronchial tubes open for deeper breathing. The heart beats faster and contracts more strongly. Blood pressure rises and sugar pours into the system for more energy. The digestive system shuts down and the skin turns pale as blood is directed to the vital organs and muscles. The eyes dilate so that we can see more clearly. Most of the stress we experience on a daily basis does not involve physical exertion which burns calories; however we still experience the need to 'do something'. For many people 'doing something' is eating, even when they are not hungry. It helps to make us feel better, immediately reducing the level of stress, and this becomes a habit or learned response to stress.

The action of adrenaline is balanced by the release of cortisol which triggers the feeling of hunger following the stress response, and for primitive man this was essential for replenishing nutritional stores following physical exertion. We may experience the same hunger without having moved a muscle! Cortisol also readies the immune system to handle any threat such as injury or germs and keeps the immune system in check, as it prevents inflammation from spreading throughout the body where there is a local infection.

Experiencing stress regularly throughout the day means that adrenalin is continually released into the blood, with the effect that blood sugar levels remain elevated. To counteract this we release insulin to carry the sugar into the cells for energy. Too much insulin damages the cells making them resistant to it and too much sugar remains in the blood which is then converted to fat, increasing harmful cholesterol levels, raising blood pressure and encouraging the storage of fat, especially in the abdomen. The result is heart disease, strokes and weight gain. Continually raised insulin levels can generate cravings for sugar and other refined carbohydrates, as well as suppressing the immune system, which makes us vulnerable to colds, viruses, infections or even cancer.

Chronic stress has been linked with low levels of important hormones and can result in a variety of symptoms including increased appetite, insomnia, depression, anxiety, migraines, PMS, obsessive/compulsive behavior, obesity and addiction, as well as feelings of exhaustion, fatigue, lethargy and that life is generally devoid of pleasure. Scientists continue to discover hormones that play an important role in weight regulation and how imbalances contribute to weight gain.

Experiencing stress on a daily basis can become chronic, initially producing minor symptoms that vary from person to person. The most common ones are listed below:


  • Sleep disturbance
  • Feeling lethargic
  • Headaches
  • Feelings of depression
  • Indigestion
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle tension
  • Mood swings
  • Skin problems
  • Poor concentration
  • Abnormal heartbeat
  • Poor memory
  • Irritable bowel/diarrhea
  • Low self esteem
  • Changes in eating patterns
  • Food cravings
  • Weight gain
  • Feeling run down or susceptible to colds, viruses and other infections
  • Odd aches and pains, particularly in the chest, shoulders, neck, and back.
How many of these symptoms have you experienced recently?


Prolonged or chronic stress results in exhaustion of the adrenal glands and places tremendous strain on other organs in the body. The risk of serious disease (angina, asthma, auto-immune diseases, cancer, cardio-vascular diseases, diabetes, depression, hypertension, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis etc.) also greatly increases and will tend to present itself first in organs that are inherently weak.

When you feel physically exhausted as a result of chronic stress, you may feel too tired to prepare healthy meals, and exercise is the last thing you want to do. Sitting watching the television eating a takeaway meal or a ready prepared microwaved meal is much more appealing, and we all know that a sedentary lifestyle causes weight gain.

Dieting and Stress

We have established that stress causes weight gain. You are stressed and overweight, which makes you even more stressed, so what do you do? You embark on a weight loss diet - again!

Let us now consider the scientific studies that have examined the link between dieting and stress.

A study conducted on one hundred and sixteen undergraduate UCLA women asked them to fill out a questionnaire to assess the effect of dieting and chronic stress. Results showed that knowing whether a person was dieting at one point was a reliable predictor of whether the person would perceive chronic stress nine weeks later. The implication is that dieting is a chronic stressor.

Other research has provided good insight into the consequences of food restriction. An experiment was conducted on young healthy males without a history of weight problems. The men ate normally for the first three months while their eating patterns and personalities were studied. For the next three months they were put on strict diets where their normal food intake was halved and for the final three months they were re-introduced to eating normal amounts of food. The results had far reaching effects. Food became the main topic of conversation, reading and daydreaming for nearly all of the men. Menus fascinated those who had no previous interest in food and cooking and a large percentage expressed an interest in taking up cooking as a career half-way through the period of food restriction. Many of the men found it impossible to stick to the diet, suffering feelings of guilt because they ate secretly on impulse. They reported feeling anxious and depressed and had trouble concentrating. They became withdrawn and less sociable. Two men suffered emotional breakdowns and one even cut off the end of his finger in the hope that this would allow him to leave the study! The experiment showed that dieting also changes body image. Men who were previously unconcerned about their weight and appearance started to complain about feeling overweight and became critical of their body shape and size even though they had actually lost weight.

During the final three month period of normal eating their personalities reverted to normal but many continued to have problems with eating. They could not stop eating when they felt full and generally ate more than they wanted. The preoccupation with food continued with some reporting a worsening of cravings, particularly for sweets, nuts and dairy products. Snacking between meals became common, even for those who did not 'snack' before the experiment. After four weeks 2/3s of the men who remained in contact with the researchers became so concerned about their weight that they put themselves on another diet. For eight months following the diet, food continued to be a major concern for more than 60% of the men.

In another study a group of dieters and a group of non-dieters were invited to eat as much ice cream as they liked after being given three different 'pre-loads' - one glass of milk shake, two milk shakes or nothing at all. The non-dieters ate less ice cream after one milk shake and even less ice cream after two. The dieters ate most ice cream after drinking two milk shakes. The study showed that the milkshake undermined the dieter's willpower. Once they had broken their diets they felt themselves to be failures and made the most of the situation. They took the view that they could eat as much as they liked and would resume their diets again the next day.

These findings show that dieting induces a change in our relationship with food and it distorts body image. It may include powerful urges to eat, cravings, excessive preoccupation with food and a general feeling of being out of control around food. Dieting is extremely stressful as a result of the internal conflict it induces and we stop listening to our internal cues of hunger and appetite. It is hardly surprising that serious eating disorders are often preceded with a history of dieting and that dieting itself contributes to the cause of obesity.

So the evidence all points to the conclusion that stress causes weight gain, which causes more stress, and then dieting to lose the excess weight stresses you even further. It's a vicious circle!

This is why it is so difficult to lose weight and keep it off for any length of time.

The dieting industry is full of unfounded optimism despite poor success rates. It has been estimated that less than 5% of those who lose weight actually keep it off for more than one year, and only one in twenty people who join weight-loss programs reaches their target weight. Half of all dieters end up heavier than before the diet.

Attending a slimming club can help to reduce the stress of dieting by providing a support structure; however the weight loss diets they promote creates immense stress, which is why people return time and time again to try to lose the weight they have regained. Slimming Clubs are simply not equipped to give specialist advice on how to manage stress, combat cravings, emotional eating, low self esteem and poor self image, and unfortunately they merely touch the surface of these fundamental issues.

If you are overweight or concerned about weight gain, there is a weight management program which adopts a very different approach with the aim of breaking the stress - weight gain - stress - dieting 'vicious circle' by teaching you how to minimize stress in every area of your life, and how to manage your weight without dieting or using meal replacements.

The focus of the program is to improve awareness of physical, mental and emotional issues that create stress and cause weight gain, and it is very different to any slimming club or weight management program that you may have tried in the past!

by Lynn Hubbardezine