Higher Cortisol Levels Linked To Abdominal Obesity
Higher long-term cortisol levels are strongly related to having abdominal obesity, according to a 2018 review study.
However, not all people with obesity have high cortisol levels. Researchers suggest genetics may play a role in glucocorticoid sensitivity.
Short-term stress can cause belly issues such as vomiting and diarrhea. Irritable bowel syndrome can be the result of long-term stress. If you already have IBS, stress can worsen gas and belly bloat.
There are two types of belly fat: subcutaneous fat and visceral fat.
What Are The Dangers Posed By Belly Fat
Before we look into the dangers, have a look at the image below. Spot the belly fat indicated as visceral fat? As you can see, the fat surrounds the bodys vital organs, such as the liver, intestines, and other internal organs. Meaning it can be pretty harmful to the functioning of these organs.
Excess visceral fat can cause severe health issues such as:
- Chronic heart disease
- Cancer breast and colorectal
- Alzheimers disease
Furthermore, excess cortisol levels from glucocorticoid use or pituitary tumors can causeCushings syndrome, which leads to more abdominal obesity as the fat gets firmer and thicker, covering the entire abdomen.
Stress-induced abdominal fat secretes large amounts of inflammatory molecules that contribute to insulin resistance, leading to glucose intolerance and type two diabetes . Research suggests that visceral fat may secrete a protein called retinol-binding protein 4 that may increase insulin resistance .
According to Harvard Health, visceral fat may increase your risk for asthma, cardiovascular disease, dementia, and some cancers .
Whether youre looking to simply pep up your fitness routine, jazz up your diet with mouth-watering low-calorie recipes or want to get your act together and significantly drop that number on your scale BetterMe app has got you covered! Improve your body and revamp your life with us!
Stress Raises Belly Fat Heart Risks
Study Shows Monkeys Under Long-Term Stress Put on Belly Fat, Get Heart Disease
That extra belly fat is why the stressed monkeys are much more likely to suffer blocked arteries and metabolic syndrome, a constellation of risk factors for heart disease, suggest Carol A. Shively, PhD, and colleagues at Wake Forest University.
In previous studies, Shively’s team showed that socially stressed monkeys — those at the bottom of the pecking order in a monkey colony — get blocked arteries far faster than other monkeys fed the same high-fat diet.
But why do stressed monkeys get more belly fat?
“We wanted to know more about how the stress outside of you gets turned into plaque inside of your arteries,” Shively tells WebMD. “So we looked at why stress caused atherosclerosis in our monkeys.”
Over a two-year period, Shively and colleagues collected a vast array of data on stressed and unstressed female cynomolgus monkeys. The studies included a CT scan to detect visceral fat — abdominal fat that often protrudes as a “beer belly” on the outside. On the inside, it wraps around the organs.
Even compared to other monkeys with the same body mass index and weight, CT scans showed that the stressed monkeys had a great deal more belly fat. And when the researchers looked at the animals’ arteries, they found plaque clogging the arteries of the stressed monkeys.
“So it’s not how much fat you have, but where it is located,” Shively says.
Don’t Miss: Why Is Life So Stressful
What Chronic Stress Does To Your Mind And Body
Heres what happens when your body is under chronic stress:
The stress hormone.
How Many Types Of Belly Fat Are There
There are two types of belly fat:
- Subcutaneous fat this one lies just under the skin, and it produces healthy hormones such as leptin.
- Visceral fat/intra-abdominal fat This type of belly fat is found deeper, around internal organs such as the liver, intestines, and also underneath the abdominal wall. Visceral fat contains more cytokines than subcutaneous fat . Cytokines may increase the risk for chronic health problems in an individual. Furthermore, too much visceral fat may increase a persons risk to asthma, cancer, dementia, cardiovascular diseases, and colorectal cancer as well .
Read Also: What To Do If Your Job Is Too Stressful
The Difference Between Visceral And Subcutaneous Fat
You may be thinking: whats visceral fat? Isnt fat justfat? Your body actually contains two different types of fat: subcutaneous fat and visceral fat. Subcutaneous fat is stored under your skinits sometimes referred to as the fat you can pinch. Visceral fat gets built up around your organswrapping itself around your heart, liver, pancreas, and settling in your belly. The difference between these two types of fats explains why its possible for someone to appear relatively thin, but still be unhealthy due to the visceral fat thats stored in their body.
If a person has too much visceral fat in their body, theyre at greater risk for:
- Certain cancers
- Alzheimers disease
Scary, right? So how do you know if you have too much visceral fat? Although an MRI is the most accurate way to determine how much excess visceral fat you store, a simpler test is a waistline measurement. Because 10% of our total fat is normally stored as visceral fat, and visceral fat is stored near the abdominal cavity, a protruding belly is one indicator of too much visceral fat. This explains why some people self-deprecatingly refer to themselves as skinny fattheyre thin, but they have belly fat that could actually be an indicator of too much visceral fat.
How To Tell If Belly Fat Is From Stress
While the accumulation of belly fat may be multifactorial, like genetics, a poor diet, or a lack of exercise, there are some signs that indicate that what you could be dealing with is stress causing belly fat. These signs include:
- Feeling overwhelmed by nearly everything.
- Feeling extremely hungry right after working out.
- Having an increased appetite throughout the day, with the need to snack every now and then.
BetterMe app will provide you with a host of fat-frying fitness routines thatll scare the extra pounds away and turn your body into a masterpiece! Get your life moving in the right direction with BetterMe!
Read Also: What All Can Stress Do To Your Body
How To Get Rid Of Stress Belly
Have you been eating well and exercising yet still feel like that belly fat won’t budge? It could be stress belly.
If you tend to carry excess weight in your midsection, this could be related to stress and hormonal impacts. Of course, other factors can contribute to a stubborn belly, such as genetics, food intolerances, or a slowing metabolism.
A certain level of stress is normal and unavoidable. It’s the long-term high stress that can lead to excess belly fat and other issues.
What You Can Do To Treat Or Lose Stress Belly
Various factors, including age and genetics, influence where your body stores fat. But there are many things you can do to lose belly fat and maintain weight loss. Here are a few tips that you can follow:
You May Like: Can Stress Make Ms Worse
Your Hormones Are Fluctuating
One common side effect of the menopause is weight gain due to fluctuations in hormones.
New evidence suggests that plummeting oestrogen levels may encourage us to eat more and exercise less, lowers the metabolic rate and increases insulin resistance, making it more difficult for our bodies to deal with sugars and starches.
Our hormones also influence fat distribution.
Perimenopause weight gain is often associated with the laying down of fat around the abdomen and internal organs, as opposed to the hips and thighs.
How to treat it
Opt for a low calorie diet as during and after menopause, the number of calories a woman burns during rest, declines.
Eat plenty of protein which keeps you full and satisfied, increases metabolic rate and reduces muscle loss.
High-quality sleep is also key in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.
Causes Of Visceral Fat You Need To Know Now
You can’t always see it, but visceral fat is embedded deep in your belly and it wraps around organs like the liver and intestines. It’s dangerous because visceral fat causes significant health issues and has been linked to heart attack and heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, breast cancer, colorectal cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. “The best way to tell if you have visceral fat is to measure your waist. The waist circumference is a good indicator of how much fat is deep inside the belly, around the organs. For women, your risk of chronic disease is increased if the waist circumference is 80 cm or more and for men 94cm or more, explains Dr. Elliana Rose, a practicing medical doctor specialized in gynecology, pharmacology, internal medicine and surgery.”Eat This, Not That! Health talked to experts who revealed the causes of visceral fat and how to help get rid of it. Read onand to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss theseSure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.
Also Check: What Vitamin Is Good For Anxiety And Stress
What Causes A Stressed
Even though stress plays a major role in the buildup of stubborn belly fat that doesnt mean its everything. Your diet and exercise usually have the biggest impact on the size of your lower stomach fat. Then genetics is also a factor as many people have a natural pear-shaped body. Those with an apple-shaped body tend to have worse heart health .
As you age your muscle mass decreases causing your body fat to increase . Having a higher body fat will cause you to quickly store excess fat in places your genetics predisposed to . Since many people tend to gain weight as they age this will also contribute to increases in abdominal fat .
Is belly fat caused by stress?
But with that said your stress also can have a hidden role in the build-up of stomach fat. Constant stress releases the fight or flight response hormone called cortisol . Cortisol is a well-known stress hormone that your body releases when you feel threatened .
With this cortisol pumping through your body youll be better adapted to escape an emergency or fight off a threat. Now its fine if cortisol is going through your body once in a while but when its constant then it becomes a problem. Cortisol can signal for your body to start storing fat in your abdominal area even if youre skinny .
Another problem that arises from having stomach fat is it causes an increase in cortisol . Having visceral fat creates an unhealthy cycle of constant cortisol that especially affects women.
Calories In Vs Calories Out
There are many reasons why women may have excess belly fat, the main one is down to the number of calories in and the number burnt off.
Quite simply if we consume too much food, it is stored as fat. However, most of us know when we attempt to reverse the fat, that it might not be as simple as that!
Nonetheless, knowing your BMR is a good place to start in attacking belly fat. Your basal metabolic rate is the number of calories youd burn if you stayed in bed all day.
Don’t Miss: How To Help Your Partner With Stress
What Is A Stress Belly And How Do I Get Rid Of It
Carrie Gabriel, MS, RDN, discusses what stress belly is. Included: its causes, signs, and proactive ways to get rid of it.
It goes without saying that how you nourish your body is immensely important to your overall health. But sometimes, stress poses more harm to your physical and mental well-being than youd imagine, especially when it compounds over time.
As a result, you may eventually experience a phenomenon called stress belly. Heres a closer look at what it entails.
How To Lose Belly Fat #: Do Sprints Once A Week
As we age, we tend to become endurance junkies. After all, endurance can improve well into your 40s, 50s and perhaps even 60s so its highly rewarding to do this kind of training and racing.
But while theres definitely a place for low intensity endurance training, its throwing in sprints and other high intensity training thatll really kick belly fat into touch. Sprint training really hoofs your metabolism into high gear and the number of calories you burn once youve finished your session remains high for anything up to 24 hours. High intensity training also contributes to growth hormone levels.
Once each week, move so fast you become a blur to anyone watching!
Its worth remembering that your endurance performance will benefit from sprint training. The higher your all-out ceiling whether thats run sprint pace or sprint power on the bike the higher your easy pace will feel. For example, if your current sprint power is 400 watts and your easy power is 50% of this , by raising your sprint power to 500w, youll drag up your easy power to 250w.
Recommended Reading: How Long Does Olly Goodbye Stress Last
The Fight Or Flight Response
Cortisol is a crucial hormone produced in the adrenal glands. It helps control blood sugar and metabolism, among other things.
Along with other hormones such as adrenaline, cortisol is part of your bodys fight or flight response.
When faced with a crisis, this stress response slows unnecessary body functions so you can focus. Once the threat passes, everything goes back to normal.
Thats a good thing.
However, prolonged stress can keep stress hormones levels elevated, along with your blood pressure and blood sugars, and thats not good.
Consuming More Calories Than You’re Burning
Dr. Stacie J. Stephenson, aka “The VibrantDoc”, a recognized leader in functional medicine and author of the new self-care book Vibrant: A Groundbreaking Program to Get Energized, Reverse Aging, and Glow states, “Reduce your calories, even just a little. Visceral fat is the first to go when people cut their food intake. Even a modest calorie reduction will burn off visceral fat first. The more you lose, the more your body will also dip into your subcutaneous fat. This is the fat just under the skin that people often want to lose because they can see it, but which is less harmful to health. Multiple research studies have demonstrated that visceral fat gets used first, which may be why health measures improve so quickly, even with just a little weight loss from calorie restriction.
Recommended Reading: What Happens When You Get Stressed
What Causes Stress Belly
Excess fat around the midsection can be attributed to a variety of factors. Genetics, aging, and eating habits can all play a part, but this fat can often be attributed to a cortisol imbalance.
Cortisol is a stress hormone that helps control blood sugar and metabolism. Further, it helps us get motivated and focused. Cortisol is usually elevated in the morning, when many of us need to perform at our best. In addition, exercise and periods of acute stress also help release cortisol and regulate energy.
Perhaps more notably, cortisol is also part of our bodys fight or flight response. The sympathetic nervous system activates in times of crisis, with the adrenal cortex then releasing cortisol. The body also gets a surge of glucose, which is meant to give our muscles an immediate supply of energy. At this point, insulin is also released to prevent the surge of glucose from being stored as fat.
In an ideal world, our stressors would be short-lived and our hormones would soon balance out. But in reality, many of our stressors stay persistent, leaving cortisol levels consistently high and stress belly fat in its wake.
How Can I Get Rid Of Stress Belly Fat
To get rid of stress fat, do the following:
- Consume nutrient-dense foods
- Go on a walk daily, and make at least 10,000 steps each day
- Take regular hot baths to lower cortisol levels and increase the levels of endorphins in the brain
- Build more muscle by participating in more weight and resistance training than cardio
- Eat more protein
Read Also: How To Know If I M Stressed