Losing belly fat is already a challenge for most people. You need to combine exercise and diet to lose weight. And, abdominal fat is always among the toughest milestones. Now, stress and belly fat could share an intimate link.
Understanding fat accumulation and how our bodies do it is complex. Now, experts are agreeing that stress affects weight. Therefore, there’s even more to complicate matters. Plus, stress can increase abdominal fat in non-overweight patients.
So, what’s going on? Let’s answer that.
How stress and belly fat are more related than you think
Women with high stress vulnerability are prone to excess belly fat and cortisol. That gives weight to the “stress belly” idea. Additionally, women with higher abdominal fat were more prone to stress. Thus, it might create a problematic cycle.
The study found that belly fat distribution relates to higher stress vulnerability. And, it’s apparently more prominent in lean women. Naturally, this phenomenon should also impact men. Plus, everyone’s cortisol reactivity is different.
Thus, reactivity to cortisol secretion could be related to visceral fat levels. Moreover, constant exposure to the same stressor also plays a role. Repetition seems to increase belly fat.
How stress and belly fat interact: The underlying mechanism
So, stress and belly fat share a link with each other. And, changes in the cortisol secretion process could play a role. A study measured 41 overweight women with low and high waist-to-hip ratios. The findings shed more light on the mechanism.
The goal was to determine if fat distribution relates to salivary cortisol levels. It did so by prompting stressful tasks against a timer. Subjects with more belly fat released more cortisol after an hour. Plus, the same subjects showed poor stress-coping skills.
They also showed smaller anger increases in response to stress. Thus, they could be prone to experiencing helplessness.
These observations take us to two conclusions. Firstly, cortisol is the mediator between stress and abdominal fat. Secondly, coping skills and emotional intelligence could worsen this effect. In other words, stress and how we cope with it can affect our belly fat.
Can exercise mess with your cortisol levels?
Curiously, exercise is promoted as a solution for body weight and emotional stress. However, the intensity of your workout session might change this. High-intensity exercise can worsen cortisol levels in people.
That’s true for people with poor stress management habits. Poor sleep, chronic stress, and bad nutrition are common culprits. Luckily, proper stress management can negate these effects.
However, exercise can help you manage stress when done properly. Walking and light physical activity help us regulate emotions. Plus, walking gives you time to clear your head. So, don’t fall for the idea that exercise is bad for stress.
How to lower stress and belly fat effectively
If you want to disrupt stress-related body fat, there are lots to do. And, it’s basically the same process as regular weight loss. We just have to combine that with a bit of stress management.
Firstly, you must reduce your emotional stress. Try meditation, mindfulness, and other relaxation techniques. You can also socialize more to help lower your stress. From a date with your partner to a chat with neighbors, everything helps.
Then, we can start talking about exercise. Exercise is famous for boosting your mood. A 30-minute daily routine can do wonders. It can also reduce your belly fat. Just make sure to include cardio and strength training.
Naturally, we must add proper nutrition, good habits, and proper sleep. Don’t think you can skip those.
The holistic takeaway
Stress and belly fat share a close relationship that demands more attention. As is, we can deduce that higher stress increases abdominal fat. And, a healthy lifestyle can be enough to tackle both.
That’s why I recommend The Fat Burning Kitchen. It’s a straightforward and comprehensive nutrition program. It contains tons of recipes focused entirely on shedding those extra pounds. Make sure you check it out!