We already know that stress is a major enemy to our health and our appearance. Also, it’s no secret that many people tend to eat more than normal when they’re stressed and under pressure. And of course, we know that overeating leads to gaining weight which in women it’s most pronounced in the abdomen area.
Stress may cause excess belly fat?
Why is this happening? Why are we accumulating more fat when we’re stressed? Stressful situations can cause your body to go in a ‘survival mode’. This means that your metabolism slows down, so you’re burning less calories and most of the calories are stored as fat deposits. Also, your body start to secretes stress hormones in quite a large amounts. This so called ‘stress’ hormones are cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine.
Several studies have shown that these ‘stress’ hormones, especially cortisol, are linked with your body not losing weight. High levels of cortisol can slow down your metabolism and make your body to resist burning calories and losing weight. That’s why you’ll get more fat to accumulate on your problem areas, especially on your belly.
Stress-induced cortisol and belly fat connection
Because your body gets in a ‘survival mode’ when stressed, it’ll actually try to store as much fat as possible. And because your abdomen has more cortisol receptors, your body tries to take fat from other areas in your body and store it into your abdomen. And because of this, the peripheral fat actually turns into visceral fat, which is the fat in your abdomen that surrounds your organs. The belly fat then makes your body to produce to more cortisol because the belly fat has higher concentrations of an enzyme that converts inactive cortisone to active cortisol. So, the more belly fat you have, the more active cortisol will be converted by the enzymes. This processes can also increase the insulin resistance in your body.
This research confirmed the expert opinion that the storing fat in the abdominal area is a result of stress. In women, more types of stress affect their belly fat accumulation than men. Considering the problems at work, financial problems, problems in a relationship and the sense of confinement in her own life, just adds to the stress that destroys the hourglass figure.
Stress often manifests itself through an increased appetite for carbohydrate-rich foods such as chocolate, chips or pasta. People under stress require these foods because they have low levels of serotonin, a hormone that has a calming and relaxing effect. By eating these foods, you feel sort of satisfaction and because of that the serotonin levels go up and you feel happy. So stress may cause excess belly fat but eating fatty and unhealthy foods will also help with that.
How to reduce stress and feel better
Another thing is that’s connected with stress is that when you’re stressed, you might not be really in the mood to work out. But did you know that working out can actually ease stress? When you work out your body produces serotonin and this hormone will calm you down and you’ll feel more relaxed.
So now we know that stress may cause excess belly fat so you have to learn how to manage how your body reacts in stressful situations. You must find out the best ways to reduce stress that work for you, like exercising, meditation or just listening to music. By teaching your body to manage stress, you’ll also get rid of the excess belly fat.