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That fat on your belly might actually be stress

This post has already been read 1983 times!

The Stress hormone Cortisol's impact on weight management

There has been a recent spurt in paid advertisements on reducing belly fat using powders and tablets, some of which allege they are based on precious herbs. One sees great graphics, tempting discounts and testimonials from people who have been saved from fat and are now living envious lives. Normally one sees these ads on television late at night, but daytime and even in leading newspapers? Something is up. Caveat emptor let the buyer beware!

There is more to weight management than popping pills hoping that those awful 20 kilos will melt away like butter in a warm saucepan. There are also a number of reasons why a person may put on weight and then face an uphill challenge getting rid of that excess fat. This post looks at one aspect – the role of stress on your belly fat and how we can try to overcome it.

Signs of Stress manifest long before one reaches the stage of exhaustion with full blown symptoms like heart problems, diabetes and changes in personality. Subjected to stress, the first instinct is that of fight or flight.  It is ideal to nip stress at that point but many of us don’t. Then the body starts to cope with the situation on its own and resistance manifests, quite often with weight change particularly around the belly – that is stress speaking.

The culprit here is the hormone called cortisol or Stress Hormone that is produced when a person is under stress. Cortisol increases the urge to eat foods that are high in fat and sugar content. If you do not already do regular exercises, the calories begin to pile up on the body especially on the belly.

I suggest maintaining a balanced diet but know from experience that when one is under stress or pressure, eating junk food or even skipping meals is common. The focus shifts to wolfing down food and getting back to work rather than thinking about whether one‘s intake of essential nutrients is being met. So the weight saga continues and gets worsened if you do crash dieting further weakening the body’s resistance to stress.

Some of us start to drink more coffee which gives the required adrenalin boost but tires us out once the effect of the coffee is gone. In addition hormones related to sleep cycles, mood and food cravings get aggravated under the influence of excessive caffeine in the system.

There is no quick fix to stress and weight management but some precautions and pre-emptive strikes against stress and belly fat can be taken.

Consciously make the effort to reduce your coffee intake and try to replace it with anti-oxidant rich herbal tea or warm water. The latter is used for weight management in Ayurveda and helps flush out toxins that impede weight loss.

Ensure that you get proper doses of Vitamin A, Vitamin B complex, Vitamin C (which lowers the amount of cortisol in your body) and magnesium (which helps to reduce anxiety) in your diet. Protein intake helps to repair the body and provides much needed energy.

A bonus food (my personal favorite) is the delicious humble apple. Great to snack on, supportive of weight management, it also helps to release ingredients into our body which my GP calls ‘happy hormone supplements’ and when one is stressed that is one bonus we all need!

Do you have any tips for stress-related weight gains on the belly? Please do share and help all of us fight the battle of the stressed out belly bulge!


PS. Want to learn how to manage stress using Chakra Balancing Exercises that will also keep your stress hormone under control? If yes, then my ebook on Chakra Balancing Exercises is just what you need.  Click on the image and learn more (a new window will open on your browser with details of the ebook and how you can acquire it).

Stress management with Chakra Balancing Exercises Guide

Written By: Vatsala Shukla



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32 Responses to “That fat on your belly might actually be stress”

  1. Thank you for sharing. I will bookmark this now

  2. Liz Bigger says:

    I never believe the “miracle” fat burner cures anymore, but do believe that it is related to stress! I am pretty sure that stress is related to soooo many things that ail us in this day in time! Thanks for the post!

  3. Sharon O'Day says:

    I heard a report the other day saying that, with all the heartburn medication being prescribed today, you can neutralize it by eating a delicious apple. Someone I know tried it and it worked! Stress can cause extra stomach acidity. So maybe your “bonus food” not only reduces stress … but also reduces the physical manifestation of stress. Just a thought 😉

  4. Anne Allen says:

    I love snacking on apples–glad to know that they help reduce stress as well as help with weight management. Thanks!

  5. WOW! What wonderful information and insight! Yes, I had that stress related belly fat last year….thank goodness I was able to get rid of it. It’s a constant thing…work at it every day! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • Karmic Ally says:

      You are most welcome, Alexandra. Once we experiences the Jelly Belly, we do take measures to keep the fat off and work on stress while it is still in the fight or flight stage. Delighted that the visitors to my blog have benefited from the post!

  6. Tom Holmberg says:

    Thanks for this information, unfortunately I see the signs of stress :/ thanks for the tips on reducing

  7. Kathy Robinson says:

    Thank you for this. I'm usually under a fair amount of stress. Now I know why I crave sugars! I'm now eating sensibly with an apple for afternoon tea (instead of sweets). I'm working on that belly fat -around 1.5 hours 3 times/weekly @ the gym.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Sugar cravings when you are feeling stressed out is the cortisol speaking. It would be a good idea to also get a general check up done including blood sugar. Stress is known to cause diabetes even if there is no family history.

      Another bonus tip is to include stretch exercises as part of your warm up to attack Jelly Belly.

  8. MamaRed says:

    OH boy, have you been hanging out in my home (smile). With the stress levels off the charts, I’m doing my darndest to be extra careful, especially since a few years ago I had a several case of adrenal fatigue and couldn’t even get out of bed.

    Thanks oodles for the suggestions and a great reality check!


    • Karmic Ally says:

      You are always welcome, MamaRed! Thyroid problems are also an issue and preventive measures save us from the often debilitating effects of insufficient stress management.

  9. Yes cortisol sure does a number of the body fat quota doesn’t it! I believe that real weight loss and health management is greatly impacted by the degree of stress reduction routines we develop for ourselves.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Thank you for dropping by Moira. I agree with you hands down! If one can practice even 1 stress reduction routine diligently, stress resilience becomes easier and with it the problem of the Stress Hormone playing havoc with our tummy.

  10. Debra Jason says:

    When I was younger, if I got stressed or depressed, food was what fed my “hungry heart.” Then, the opposite happened and if I was bummed, I’d stop eating.
    Today, I think I’ve found the balance. I certainly had my run-in with cortisol and am happy to say it’s under control.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Congratulations Debra! There is nothing worse than trying to get the tummy under control and not succeeding. Diets and exercise do help but we often overlook cortisol. Maybe that is why there are so many quick-fix ads in media which may not suit the person.

  11. Yes, Karmic Ally, everyone should have their thyroid levels checked. Even though you feel normal and healthy, the thyroid can be affected by the radiation blast from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station during the tsunami that struck Japan in 2011. And yes, stress increases the extra secretion of cortisol, turning glucose into fat. This is why meditation, tai chi and qi gong are very helpful, and there are more ways. Thank you for this informative article.

  12. Solvita says:

    So interesting! I must admit I belong to a group of people, who become very slim under stress… as the food is the last thing on my mind, when something like that happens.;) Well we all need to undertand that stress is unhealthy way of being… thank you so much for sharing this.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Thank you Solvita and welcome to my blog! Stress is unhealthy and skipping meals is not good in the long run. The bonus tip of eating an apple seems very popular. Do at least eat that even if you are not hungry when stressed out. And do vote for my blog, I need all the support I can get.:)

  13. Ain’t that the truth. I have to start eating more apples! Jeepers… Great article.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Thanks Norma. Here is a super bonus tip about apples that I learned years ago as a student. Apples also help to clean the teeth and aid in the fight against cavities. Snoopy Dance for the delicious Apple!

  14. I never realised that apples had so much goodness in them. And fortunately for me I have an apple tree in my garden bursting with fabulous little beauties! Think I may have to check out my vitamin intake too. Great article Vatsala

    • Karmic Ally says:

      Lucky you! You have a gold mine of goodness in your backyard! Apples are great food for a variety of reasons. When I was a kid, my Mom used to pack a n apple in my lunch box for school and I am so glad that she did. There is truth in the saying “An Apple a Day keeps the Doctor Away”!

  15. Great article! Thanks for the info about stress going to your belly! 🙂

  16. Robin says:

    Great article, Karmic Ally! It is amazing what stress can do to our bodies. Great news about the humble apple! My favorite right now is the Gala. Thank you for sharing your expertise on this!

  17. Vassia says:

    That has been very helpful, thank you. I realize that my problems have a reason (too much stress, unxiety, rundom sleepyness, too much belly fat, dificulty in consentrating) and if there is a reason, there is a solution as well. I will start with the apple idea, I am downloading the ebook, and we will see how it will go.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      I’m happy you’ve found the information useful, Vassia. The apple idea does work and its one that I recommend as immediate SOS help when stressed out. The other is to drink water which helps the Sacral Chakra and emotions that get amplified when we are under stress. Thank you for purchasing my ebook. You will find it very useful.

  18. Vanita says:

    Very interesting and useful tips! I didn’t realise how excessive coffee drinking leads to weight gain. At the office one tends to drink copious amounts! Thanks for sharing this, Vatsala.

    • Karmic Ally says:

      You’re welcome, Vanita. Too much of any beverage is bad, including coffee! A better drink is good old water or herbal tea, especially Tulsi tea.

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