Causes of Belly Fat: Stress and Cortisol

Causes of Belly Fat: Stress and Cortisol. The way fat is distributed in the body is determined mostly by genetics, but it is also affected by hormones, especially cortisol. Chronic exposure to the "stress hormone" cortisol, caused by periods of high stress lasting for a long time, causes abdominal obesity.

Cortisol is a major cause of belly fat because the fat in the abdomen has more blood supply and more cortisol receptors than fat in other areas. So, when cortisol is high, the receptors are stimulated and the belly fat accumulates. The higher your stress levels are, the broader your belly will become.

The importance of reducing the causes of belly fat is far beyond simply wanting to look better. This type of weight distribution, which researchers call central obesity, leads to a higher risk of atherosclerosis, heart attack, stroke, type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, ovulatory dysfunction, and sleep apnea.

How can you tell if you are at risk? The best place to start is your waistline. Measure your waist just above your belly button. For men, a healthy weight measurement is less than 40 inches, and for women a healthy waist is less than 35 inches. If your waistline is outside of these limits then you may be at higher risk of disease.

This means there is one simple place to start: If you want to get rid of the fat at your midsection, you have to start by getting rid of your stress. Here are some simple stress reduction techniques to help you get started:

  • Causes of Belly FatExercise – this powerful tool is known to decrease our stress levels and help to banish belly fat.
  • Meditate – Just taking a few moments for yourself in a day can be a powerful stress buster.
  • Go for a walk – fresh air and sunshine combined with gentle exercise are great for mind and body
  • Listen to music - just tuning out of life for a few minutes can calm you tremendously
  • Take a nap – taking a quick nap during the day has been shown to decrease stress and increase productivity.
  • Get a good night’s sleep - allow your body to wake naturally without an alarm clock
  • Avoid external stressors like the news - Violence and tragedy raise our cortisol so try to limit the amount of news you watch or read and only use one news source per day. That means if you read the morning paper, then don’t watch the evening news.

About the Author:
Dr. Kendra Pearsall, N.M.D. is a Naturopathic Medical Doctor specializing in natural weight loss and food addiction. She created to help millions of people achieve optimal health, natural weight loss and life success with her free weekly e-newsletter (sign up at the top of this page.)