If you have gained unwanted weight during the quarantine period, you are not alone. According to a poll by American Psychological Association, 61 % of US adults reported unwanted weight changes since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Quarantine is an important and effective measure to reduce the spread of Coronavirus. Read on to find out how stress hormones play a role in weight gain or loss.

Stress Hormones Can Be a Reason for Weight Gain or Loss During Pandemic

As a result of quarantine, people may notice weight gain due to several disruptions and challenges to regular routines. The common reasons for weight gain are less physical exercise, less sleep, and eating more. 

The study outcomes published in March 2021 proved that during the COVID-19 pandemic, 42 % of respondents noticed unwanted weight gain – 13.2 Kgs (29 pounds) on average, and almost 10 percent of people gained weight on average 50 pounds. On the other hand, over 18% of respondents reported weight loss – on average, 11.8 Kilograms (26 pounds).

Another research released on 22 March 2021 evaluated weight change in 269 people between February to June 2020. The scientists discovered that people experienced a weight gain of around 1.5 pounds (0.7Kgs) every month on average.

Stress hormones also play a major role in changes in body weight. Another poll performed by the American Psychological Association in January 2021 discovered that around 84% of US adults underwent at least one emotion connected with prolonged stress in past weeks.

These conclusions about unwanted weight changes seem reasonable in a stressful environment, particularly the body’s stress response, also known as the fight or flight response.

The fight-or-flight response is an inherent reaction that developed as a survival tool. It allows humans to react faster to acute stress like a predator or adjust to chronic stress like food insufficiency.

When people experience stress, the body wants to keep the mind alert. It reduces hormones and brain chemicals to manage behaviors that won’t help in an emergency, and it improves others hormones that will.

What Happens When You Experience Stress?

When you are under stress, the body reduces neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, serotonin, and melatonin. Serotonin manages emotions, digestion, and appetite. Hence, low levels of serotonin can change people’s eating habits and increase anxiety.

Dopamine is a feel-good neurotransmitter that plays an essential role in the body and brain. It is an organic chemical that can improve goal-oriented motivation. Lower levels of dopamine may translate into lower motivation to follow a healthy lifestyle, work out, or do our daily chores.

When people experience stress, they tend to produce less of the sleep hormone melatonin, leading to sleep deprivation.

There are two physiological changes linked with stress such as epinephrine and norepinephrine. They are increased in stressful situations. These biochemical changes cause mood swings, reduce our goal-oriented motivation, eating habits, and disturb a person’s circadian rhythm.

Therefore, stress can help change your eating habits, and you will be less motivated to exercise or eat healthily.

Why Did People Gain Weight Last Year?

In these two types of research, people self-reported their weight, and the scientists didn’t examine any information about physical activity. But one study believed that the reason for their weight changes was body fat.

Most people found comfort in eating high-calorie foods because consuming chocolate and other sweets made them happy by improving serotonin levels in a short period.  

Eating for comfort seems a natural response when you are stressed. But this can also demotivate you to exercise, eating low-nutrient foods, high-calorie food. As a result, you gain weight.

Put simply, and the brain is linked to the gut through a two-way communication system known as the vagus nerve.

When you experience stress, your body restrains the signals that pass through the vagus nerve, slowing down the digestive process. During the pandemic, people are involved in excess eating to distract them. To overcome stress, you can talk to your loved one by sharing your feelings to avoid unwanted consequences.