• You're all caught up!

Can Stress Cause You to Lose Your Muscle Size?

author image Kiki Michelle
Based in Los Angeles, Calif., Kiki Michelle has been writing health-related articles since 2007. Her work has appeared in "Environmental Science and Technology Magazine." Michelle holds a Bachelor of Arts in human biology from Stanford University.
Can Stress Cause You to Lose Your Muscle Size?
Weight loss, fat accumulation and hormonal imbalances due to stress are likely to decrease muscle size. Photo Credit Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images

Emotional stress can do a number on our bodies. Stress affects our mental, social and physical well-being and can trigger a number of unhealthy habits which can affect your weight and muscle composition. Luckily, there are several ways to combat these negative effects with stress management techniques.

Hormone Imbalances

Chronic stress can throw your hormones out of balance. Persistent stress is likely to decrease the level of anabolic hormones like testosterone and increase the level of catabolic hormones like cortisol, which is an unhealthy balance. Low levels of testosterone and elevated levels of cortisol affect energy and inhibit muscle development.


While exercise can help improve your mood and, thus, alleviate emotional stress, stress may make it difficult to find the motivation to exercise. Chronic stress can lead to insomnia or other sleeping disorders and make you feel fatigued and exhausted, making it difficult to perform vigorous physical activity. Breaking from a rigorous and consistent exercise regimen for a significant amount of time can dramatically reduce muscle size.

You Might Also Like


When stressed, many individuals resort to overeating to fill an emotional void. Your diet plays a major role on your body's ability to develop and maintain muscle growth. Comfort foods tend to be high in fat and sugar makes individuals more likely to gain weight in the form of fat. High-fat and low-nutrient foods decrease your body's lean muscle content. Furthermore, if you are eating less or not at all because of stress, your body will not be able to sustain the same weight or muscle size.

Stress Management

To maintain muscle mass and prevent weight gain while dealing with emotional stress, it is essential to take appropriate measures to safeguard your health and well-being. When dealing with stress, it is important to recognize and avoid comfort eating, continue to exercise regularly and perform weight-resistance exercises. Manage your stress by seeking the support of friends and family, getting enough sleep and by performing relaxation exercises like yoga and meditation.

Related Searches

LiveStrong Calorie Tracker
THE LIVESTRONG.COM MyPlate Nutrition, Workouts & Tips
  • Gain 2 pounds per week
  • Gain 1.5 pounds per week
  • Gain 1 pound per week
  • Gain 0.5 pound per week
  • Maintain my current weight
  • Lose 0.5 pound per week
  • Lose 1 pound per week
  • Lose 1.5 pounds per week
  • Lose 2 pounds per week
  • Female
  • Male
ft. in.


Demand Media