Stress & it’s effect on Weight

cake or apple

Could there be something happening in your body that’s holding you back from losing weight?

Nearly always, the answer is YES!  Why? Because our bodies speak to us through signs and symptoms.  Factors affecting our hormones like lack of sleep, constant stress, poor diet, medications, thyroid problems, etc, can make weight loss really difficult and undermine our best intentions.

Over the past 12 months I have been taking herbs and vitamins and through this and a change of diet I have successfully turned my thyroid condition around and no longer have to take medication. Allison

Here are some of the factors all worsened by stress that can impact weight loss:

Metabolic Syndrome and Diabetes

Insulin resistance, is a metabolic disorder which affects insulin and blood sugar level metabolism. In individuals with insulin resistance your body cells’ insulin receptors have become resistant, which leads to high levels of circulating insulin. If left unmanaged, this syndrome can develop into diabetes.

People with insulin resistance tend to carry weight around the abdomen (visceral fat).

Insulin resistance makes it very difficult for you to lose weight successfully. The best way to tackle insulin resistance is a combination of exercise, diet modification and nutritional supplementation.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

PCOS is a very common condition in women and presents with several symptoms such as excess hair growth (hirsuitism), acne, irregular periods, and difficulty losing weight. This condition is usually caused by a combination of insulin resistance, excess androgens and low levels of progesterone.

Naturopathic treatment can help to address this syndrome by regulating hormone levels and correcting insulin resistance. Once the insulin resistance and hormonal levels are improved, weight loss can occur more easily.

Oestrogen Dominance

High levels of the hormone oestrogen can cause several health complaints such as endometriosis, breast tenderness, pre-menstrual syndrome and period pain, however it can affect your weight. Excessive oestrogen encourages fat and cellulite deposition around the hips, thighs and buttocks. In women with oestrogen dominance, herbs and nutrients that boost progesterone and support liver function can help fat loss to occur more effectively.


If a person has this gene, they cannot convert folate to its active form in the body, folinic acid. This causes an increase in an inflammatory chemical, homocysteine, which can cause several problems such as weight gain that is very difficult to shift, depression, heart disease, clotting problems, and blood sugar level imbalances.

Thyroid Disorders

Thyroid imbalance can strongly affect metabolism and make it difficult to lose weight. People with an underactive thyroid may experience weight gain, fluid retention, bloating, fatigue, low body temperature, hair loss, dry skin, constipation and muscle weakness.

Thyroid imbalance is very common in post-menopausal women and often goes unnoticed. Often Thyroxine alone is insufficient as the inflammation causing the damage is left unchecked.


Our fat cells produce the hormone leptin which regulates our metabolism and determines how much fat will be stored. Altered levels of leptin can cause problems with food cravings, over eating, hunger and difficulty losing weight.

Poor sleep

Is a known risk factor for weight gain, can increase appetite and blood sugar metabolism problems.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Certain nutritional deficiencies can cause a reduction in metabolism and reduce your ability to burn fat, in particular Vitamin D. Other deficiencies, such as magnesium can correspond with sugar cravings and yet others can lead to an overstimulated appetite. Nutritional deficiencies are a major contributor to weight gain.


People suffering from chronic or systemic inflammation may find it hard to lose weight. The inflammation might come from an existing health complaint, such as an injury, digestion problem, arthritis, allergies etc, or it may be related to current dietary and lifestyle sources. We can monitor this using cellular health measures.


Our adrenal glands make the hormone cortisol in response to stress. Excess levels of cortisol can cause fluid retention, bloating and weight gain around the neck, trunk and abdomen. If stress is severe or prolonged, it can cause chronic elevation of the hormones cortisol and adrenaline and this can result in weight gain.

Some people may get certain food cravings in times of stress, and this can impede weight loss, especially if you are cravings sugary or fatty foods.

If you are experiencing high levels of stress then a treatment program designed to balance the adrenal glands and help improve your ability to cope with stress will help to balance the cortisol levels and also reduce food cravings, therefore improving weight loss.


If the pH (acid-alkaline balance) of the body is too acidic, then this can cause problems with weight loss. pH can be lowered (made acidic) by drinking soft drink or eating acidic foods such as too many grains or meats, or by stress.

Food intolerances

If you have an intolerance to a food and you continue to eat it, this can cause all sorts of problems in the body, due to the way it upsets the immune system, causes stress on the nervous system and increases inflammation.

Most often food intolerances cause digestive problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea, constipation, reflux, or bloating. However food intolerances don’t always express the same way in everyone – some people may get mood swings, headaches, skin problems, immune problems, hormone imbalances, fluid retention or aches and pains as a result of eating it.

Food intolerances can be difficult to identify because they can cause symptoms up to 48 hours after eating a food, and because the problems they cause aren’t always obviously food related.

Eating foods which you are intolerant to will affect normal functioning in the body and can interfere with weight loss. It can also cause bloating and fluid retention, making your feel larger than you are as well. Most people who cut out food intolerances lose some fat mass after a few weeks.

Gut & Liver Toxicity

There are many toxins present in our environment, and some people can have difficulty detoxifying them normally. When we are presented with more toxins than we can process and eliminate, our body will store them in our fat cells. This presents a problem: our body has put these toxins away for a reason – it cannot cope with them, and therefore it will block weight loss until it can effectively detoxify through the gut and liver.

People with gut and liver toxicity may carry weight in a band around the bottom of their rib cage (Naturopaths refer to this as a ‘liver roll’) and they may also experience symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, bad breath, stomach upsets and a foggy mind.

A good detoxification program that supports gut, kidney and liver function will allow your body to release these toxins safely. Most people will lose a few kilos just from detoxifying, and find that weight loss can occur much more easily after the detox is finished as well.

Brenda’s approach to weight loss was totally different to other programs I’ve seen, in fact I was shocked when she said to me to totally ditch the “diet”.  Selma P

Over the past 12 months I have been taking herbs and vitamins and through this and a change of diet I have successfully turned my thyroid condition around and no longer have to take medication. Allison D

I have to thank Brenda for opening my eyes and showing me that ultimately I am the only one who can change my life and my health – but I could not have done this without her. Baz D

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Brenda Rogers

With over 25 years experience as a corporate trainer, naturopath, yoga teacher and wise woman educator, Brenda is the head clinician and coach at Quintessence Health.

"A healthy mind and body simply ensures you have the time and energy to fully express and manifest your life’s purpose – it facilitates the unfolding of joy."

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