Focus On Weight Loss In General
Weight lossalone can effectively reduce visceral fat, says Dr. Butsch. By losing 10% ofyour body weight, you may lose up to 30% of your body fat.
Talk to your doctor about a weight-loss method that is right for you. While there are lots of options to choose from, Dr. Butsch recommends you avoid fasting for long periods. Prolonged fasts cause the body to hold onto the visceral fat, making it tougher to lose. If fasting is your jam, an intermittent or time-restricted fasting approach may be more effective for losing belly fat.
What Is A Stress Belly
A stress belly is an extra weight that accumulates around the abdominal area due to prolonged or chronic stress.
While belly fat may be caused by many things, including genetics, a stress belly is caused by the actions of a hormone called cortisol, which you will learn about below.
Study: Stress May Cause Excess Abdominal Fat In Otherwise Slender Women
Non-overweight women who are vulnerable to the effects of stress are more likely to have excess abdominal fat, and have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, a study conducted at Yale suggests.
While past studies have examined cortisol response in overweight women, this is the first study to show that lean women with abdominal fat have exaggerated responses to cortisol. Abdominal fat is related to worse health, including greater risk of heart disease and diabetes.
We also found that women with greater abdominal fat had more negative moods and higher levels of life stress, said Elissa S. Epel, Ph.D., lead investigator on the study she conducted while at Yale’s psychology department. Greater exposure to life stress or psychological vulnerability to stress may explain their enhanced cortisol reactivity. In turn, their cortisol exposure may have led them to accumulate greater abdominal fat.
Published in the September/October issue of Psychosomatic Medicine, the study looked at pre-menopausal, non-overweight women, and overweight women who stored fat either centrally-at the waist vs. peripherally-at the hips, and examined their stress responses over three consecutive days.
Everyone is exposed to stress, but some people may secrete more cortisol than others, and may secrete cortisol each time they face the same stressor, Epel adds. We predicted that reacting to the same stressors consistently by secreting cortisol would be related to greater visceral fat.
Recommended Reading: How To Get Rid Of Cortisol Stress
Other Causes Of Visceral Fat
Dr. Jorge Luis Green, the board-certified bariatric and general surgeon for Renew Bariatrics explains, “Visceral fat is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Some people are more likely to store visceral fat than others. Factors that can increase your risk for visceral fat include a high-calorie diet, a lack of exercise, and stress. In addition, your lifestyle may play a role. Smoking, drinking too much alcohol, and not getting enough sleep can increase your risk of visceral fat.” And to protect your life and the lives of others, don’t visit any of these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.
The Realities Of Excess Bellyfat
Abdominalfat is visceral fat, stubborn fat that surrounds the organs deep within theabdomen. Researchers have proved that excess visceral fat increases a personsrisk of metabolic diseases, including:
Dr.Butsch says belly fat affects men and women differently: Men are more likelyto havemore belly fat than premenopausal women. But aftermenopause, women begin to gain more weight in their abdominal area.
Recommended Reading: How To Relieve Stress Pain In Neck And Shoulders
The Link Between Stress And Cortisol
Researchers have long known that rises in the stress hormone cortisol can lead to weight gain. Every time you’re stressed, your adrenal glands release adrenaline and cortisol, and as a result, glucose is released into your bloodstream. All of this is done to give you the energy you need to escape from a risky situation .
Once the threat has subsided, your adrenaline high wears off and your blood sugar spike drops. This is when cortisol kicks into high gear to replenish your energy supply quickly.
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!
You May Like: What Can Too Much Stress Cause
Ways To Combat Stress Belly
I co-wrote the Cheats & Eats: Lifestyle Programmewith Healthspan nutritionist Robert Hobson as a plan to help put your hormones back on track. Here are some key ways you can help balance cortisol from our programme:
Eat high nutrient density foods
We created the Cheats & Eats Programme as one in which no food is off limits. Everything is either an Eat or a Cheat. You get unlimited Eats, which are very high micronutrient dense foods. These are foods such as vegetables and wholegrains and low fat proteins. Those could mean for example, a delicious heap of roast or steamed vegetables with lean chicken or a fillet of salmon, some fresh tomatoes and basil drizzled with olive oil, cucumber sprinkled with dill the list goes on and on. There is a dull list of Eats in the book but some examples include green vegetables, black tea and coffee, green tea, most fruits, most beans, lean proteins and healthy fats such as walnut, olive, coconut and avocado oils.
Go on cheat yourself
Walk 10,000 steps a day
Take regular baths
Taking hot baths regularly has been shown to lower cortisol levels and this is something that anyone can do. Even if you only have two minutes, spending time on yourself, using aromatherapy you love will relax you by engaging your senses. Plus, as your body temperature rises during a hot bath, endorphins your bodys natural feel good chemicals are raised.
Use quick mind tricks to relax your mind
Like this? Share it with a friend!
Signs You Have Belly Fat Caused By Stress
If you have fat around your belly that you cant shift, there are a few other signs to watch for that could signal an imbalance of cortisol is to blame.
Youre ravenous all day
Stress causes an increase in appetite. If you feel like you could eat another four meals after finishing breakfast or dinner or you often have that all-day need to snack, especially on sugary or fatty foods, you may have an imbalance of cortisol.
You feel overwhelmed
I cant deal with this! is a common cry I hear from clients I see with cortisol imbalances. its that feeling that if someone gives you one more thing to do, one more decision to make or one more problem to solve, you will explode, break down or both. That too is an imbalance of cortisol.
Exercise makes you want to stuff your face
After exercise, do you feel so ravenous you could eat a giant hamburger or plate of pasta rather than a healthy meal such as chicken/fish and vegetables? If you feel so hungry after exercise that you want to eat foods that are super-high in calories, you may well have an imbalance of cortisol or you may be doing exercise that is too hard and fast and thereby raises your cortisol levels too high.
Want to eat everything in sight? This could be why. Image: iStock
Read Also: Can You Get Cancer From Stress
Eat Plenty Of Soluble Fiber
Soluble fiber absorbs water and forms a gel that helps slow down food as it passes through your digestive system.
Studies show that this type of fiber promotes weight loss by helping you feel full, so you naturally eat less. It may also decrease the number of calories your body absorbs from food .
Whats more, soluble fiber may help fight belly fat.
An observational study in over 1,100 adults found that for every 10-gram increase in soluble fiber intake, belly fat gain decreased by 3.7% over a 5-year period (
Make an effort to consume high fiber foods every day. Excellent include:
- flax seeds
Soluble fiber may help you to lose weight by increasing fullness and reducing calorie absorption. Try to include plenty of high fiber foods in your weight loss diet.
Work With A Licensed Therapist
Work with professionals who will guide you in learning ways to manage stress and weight-related issues. If you’re suffering from anxiety due to prolonged stress and feel your weight or physical health is being affected, a licensed therapist can help you. With compassion and expertise, licensed therapists are equipped to help you develop positive and healthy eating habits. You can read reviews of some BetterHelp therapists below, from people experiencing similar issues.
“Shana is a very helpful and thoughtful counselor. Shana not only helped me work through my immediate problems but discussed a path forward so that I could find more time to enjoy myself and manage the stress and anxiety in the future. I really appreciate her counseling.”
You May Like: Why Do I Feel Stressed When I Wake Up
Change Your Lifestyle And Combine Different Methods
Just doing one of the items on this list wont have a big effect on its own.
If you want good results, you need to combine different methods that have been shown to be effective.
Interestingly, many of these methods are things generally associated with healthy eating and an overall healthy lifestyle.
Therefore, changing your lifestyle for the long term is the key to losing your belly fat and keeping it off.
When you have healthy habits and eat real food, fat loss tends to follow as a natural side effect.
Losing weight and keeping it off is difficult unless you permanently change your dietary habits and lifestyle.
There are no magic solutions to losing belly fat.
Weight loss always requires some effort, commitment, and perseverance on your behalf.
Successfully adopting some or all of the strategies and lifestyle goals discussed in this article will definitely help you lose the extra pounds around your waist.
How To Lose Internal Belly Fat Say Experts
Most people know about subcutaneous fatthe fat that you can see and pinch. But there’s another fat many don’t know about called visceral fat that’s hidden deep in your belly. It wraps around your organs and causes severe health issues like type 2 diabetes, stroke, some cancers, high cholesterol and more. While it’s a concerning health problem, you can get rid of visceral fat. To know if you have visceral fat, measure your waist and for women, your risk of chronic disease is increased if the waist circumference is 80 cm or more and for men 94cm or more. Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with experts who share how to reduce internal belly fat and what causes it. Read onand to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.
You May Like: What Can Stress Do To You Physically
Why You Gain Belly Fat When Youre Stressed
Im still looking for this kitchen in which abs are madedo you know where it is?
Thats what one client said to me during a discussion in which she informed me that her belly was fat and nothing she did would get rid of it and she was gross and disgusting.
The wine we were having was not helping our bellies, but it was definitely helping our attitudes.
Look, I dont want anyone out there to feel gross and disgusting, but I know what its like when you do and Im not going to lie Its not easy to get rid of the feeling AND the belly fat. If it were, I would not be having a wine-versation about gross and disgusting bellies, nor would I be writing this article.
And yes, diet is one of the most important aspects of losing belly fatwell get to that. But there are other things we need to work on too and working on All of Them At The Same Time can make your eyeballs fall out of your head, roll across the floor and become your cats next favorite toy.
We dont want that.
So lets deal with things one thing at a time.
One major contributor to belly fat is:
You need stress management. I know the word management is an ugly one, so lets just say stress management is all about pulling your s**t together.
In a previous article, I talked about how to tame your stress in several easy steps. In this one, were digging deeper to find out what stress is, what it does to your mind and body and, most important, how it affects your belly fat.
Have A Cheat Day Or At Least Dessert One Day A Week
You dont have to eat perfect ALL of the time. If you really miss chocolate cake or ice cream, allow yourself ONE cheat day or just a cheat dessert on Saturday for example.
Thats right! Im talking about even refined food!
This has been an essential part of how to lose stress weight for me. I love my cheat day. I dont feel deprived, and then my body is so used to healthy food, that Im excited to go back to my anti-inflammatory diet the next day.
Make sure this is something you plan for, not an impulsive decision that keeps happening over and over again. That will defeat the purpose and you wont lose the weight.
For a good mid-week treat, I recommend at least 70% or 80% dark chocolate because its lower in sugar, high in antioxidants, and its so decadent.
Read Also: What Does Stress Do To The Human Body
Identify Problem Habits When It Comes To Food
Dr. Mitchell shares, “It’s common knowledge that eating habits play a big role in overall health, but it can be difficult to change established patterns. A good first step is to take an honest inventory of when and how often you eat. Are you a late-night snacker? Do you eat a heavy meal right before bed? Are you cooking mainly home-cooked meals, or does your diet mainly consist of fast food or fried or smoked food? Once you have a better understanding of your eating habits, you can start to make changes that will improve your health. For example, if you find that you’re eating most of your calories at night, try shifting some of your meals to earlier in the day. And if you’re eating a lot of processed or fried foods, start by slowly replacing them with healthier options.” 6254a4d1642c605c54bf1cab17d50f1e
Reducing Stressed Belly Fat
Its clear that its a bad thing to have chronically elevated cortisol. Even professional athletes and fitness models can develop a stress belly if they have elevated cortisol all the time. Those who suffer from anxiety and depression generally have higher amounts of cortisol . If you suffer from either of these mental health disorders it may be a good idea to seek professional help.
But there are some simple proven strategies you can use to lower your stress, anxiety, and depression. Eating healthier foods plays a big role in the health of your brain . Constantly eating bad foods wreaks havoc on your mental biochemistry promoting anxiety and depression . Cut out the junk like processed foods, sugar, artificial sweeteners, refined carbs, excess alcohol, and bad vegetable oils.
Working out and exercising has been proven again and again to improve mood . Exercise and other physical activity done daily is a smart way to lower your stress, anxiety and depression. It might be a better idea to stay away from intense exercise since it can temporarily boost cortisol . Also, be sure youre not overtraining as this can lead to more cortisol in your body .
I know its easier said than done but staying away from stressful situations is key. Its not always practical but it can go a long way to lowering your stress and stubborn stomach fat.
Also Check: How To Relieve Stress Acne
How To Break The Cycle Of Stress And Weight Gain
When you’re stressed out, healthy behaviors likely eating properly and exercising regularly can easily fall by the wayside. Maintaining a schedule and/or routine can help make these healthy behaviors a habit and combat stress-related weight changes. Here are a few strategies that can help you break the cycle of stress and weight gain:
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.
Recommended Reading: What To Do When You Are Sad And Stressed
In What Other Ways Can Stress Cause Weight Gain And Bloating
Here are a couple of other ways stress adds to your weight:
Chronic stress makes it harder to sleep well, which also spikes your cortisol levels. Lack of sleep triggers excess hunger as your body tries to make up for lack of energy.
Cortisol also tends to make the fat cells gather around the belly and midsection. So even if youre not eating that bad, fat goes right to this problem area.
In other words: with stress weight, you gain a belly.