The Real Reason You Gained Weight during COVID-19
The pandemic changed many things. With our life at a standstill, our routines and even our priorities were no longer the same before COVID-19. This resulted in changes in our diet, sleeping schedule, exercise regime, and more. With these changes came different consequences, including weight changes.
During the pandemic, many people gained weight. A survey shows that 42% of participants gained an average of 29 pounds. Another study concludes that most people experienced a weight gain averaging 1.5 pounds every month.
It is true that not everyone gained weight mid-crisis. There are also some people who lost weight while others were able to maintain a healthy weight. When researchers tried to analyze the cause of weight changes during the pandemic, stress turned out to be the common denominator.
How Stress is Causing Weight Gain in the Middle of the Pandemic
One of the human body’s survival instincts is the fight or flight response. Whenever we face stress, our body responds by reducing our neurotransmitter levels. It reduces our dopamine, melatonin, and serotonin levels which have varying functions.
Dopamine is a feel-good chemical that plays a part in our movements and emotional responses. Melatonin is the sleep hormone that responds to darkness. As for serotonin, it impacts the body by stabilizing happiness and mood, while helping the body with eating, sleeping, and digestion.
When your dopamine levels are down, you are less motivated to move and stay productive. This is because it is also responsible for your goal-oriented motivation. This means you are less likely to perform your daily activities, keep up a healthy lifestyle, or even stay active enough. It is easy to feel cramps, aches, and muscle stiffness with low dopamine.
Low serotonin levels increase anxiety levels. When people are stressed out, they either have no appetite at all or have a tendency to go binge-eating. You get the feeling of hopelessness, sadness, fatigue, anger, and depression.
As for low melatonin levels, this can lead to feelings of restlessness. You tend to have a poor stress response and won’t be able to get that good night’s sleep. Without enough sleep, you won’t have enough energy to face the next day.
Another biochemical change that occurs when you are stressed out is that your epinephrine and norepinephrine levels are elevated. High levels of epinephrine lead to faster breathing, increased heart rate, strength, blood sugar levels, and blood flow. Elevated norepinephrine levels can lead to feelings of elevated blood pressure, hyperactivity, happiness, or panic attacks.
During stressful situations, epinephrine and norepinephrine levels increase. This then causes mood swings, anxiety, and changes in eating habits, to name a few. These eventually impact our eating habits, thus the increased weight gain.
Fighting Stress to Defeat Pandemic-15
With stress being the main trigger of our diet and lifestyle changes, it only makes sense to address stress when trying to shed those extra pounds. Thankfully, there are things one can do to do this. But experts warn against the use of extreme weight loss measures.
The first thing one needs to understand is what their main stress triggers are. For some people, it is due to isolation, loneliness, and lack of social interaction. Others have financial issues while some are struggling with control issues.
The best way to lose weight the healthy way is to consult your doctor. Consider going to a weight loss and management center. This way, the experts can help design a personalized program for you.
Know that there is no such thing as a fast and instant weight loss program. What you need is to lose weight gradually until you reach a healthy weight. You can try some evidence-based tricks to shed some pounds off of your weighing scale.
For one, you need to keep yourself well-hydrated. Many studies confirm that hydration helps with weight loss. It can suppress your natural appetite, remove toxins from the body, and boost calorie burning.
Shop for healthier snacks and food items and get rid of unhealthy foods in your pantry. This will help you reduce your comfort food cravings. Stick to yogurt, whole fruits, cruciferous vegetables, chicken breast, and omega-3 rich foods.
Make sure you get enough rest and sleep each day. This will help reduce your risk for obesity. Remember that poor sleep reduces the number of calories your body burns each day.
Don’t forget about aerobic exercises for weight loss. Cardio helps lose belly fat, burn calories, and boost your health and well-being. Consider running, walking, kettlebell workouts, and swimming.
In a nutshell, stress is the biggest reason why many people are gaining weight during the pandemic. Since the crisis threw our life out of balance, we are now having a hard time coping. This leads to stress-eating, a sedentary lifestyle, and a lack of motivation. Thankfully, it is never too late to shed your pandemic-15 if you want. Just make sure you do the healthy approach and you are on the right track.