Do you diet, exercise, and still struggle with excess fat on your stomach? This can be caused not only by excess calories but also by stress! When it happens from time to time, it is not dangerous, but long-term stress can lead to the formation of a stress abdomen and the development of serious diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. A stress abdomen can occur even in thin people. What are the reasons for its formation, what does it look like and how can it be dealt with? We present the answers below.
What is a stress belly?
Fat tissue is distributed throughout our bodies, but often quite unevenly. Some people may be narrow at the waist but have fat stored on their thighs and buttocks. Others have slim legs and a flat bottom but at the waist a lot of adipose tissue, the so-called “doughnut”. It is important to know that fat in the abdominal area can be not only subcutaneous, as in other parts of the body, but also visceral, around the internal organs. Abdominal obesity is not only an aesthetic defect and the cause of complexes, but also a problem threatening health. Adipose tissue produces and stores certain hormones that are not well distributed, as well as inflammatory substances. As a result, it can affect the sensitivity of cells to insulin, pressure, and blood clotting.
Abdominal fat can accumulate not only because of insufficient dieting, excess calories and lack of exercise. Long-term stress can also contribute to unwanted weight gain. The stress hormone, or cortisol, causes fat to accumulate, especially around the waist and abdomen. Hence the term “stressed belly” which is characterized by flatulence in the upper and lower abdomen.
Do I have a stress belly?
The stress abdomen has a distinctive appearance, which makes it fairly easy to recognize. Whether there is a lot or little fat, it starts just below the breasts or chest and stretches in an even layer to the belly button. A stress abdomen also has a specific shape – it is tight, constricted and does not hang down. Therefore, it is easy to distinguish it from a gelatinous, fluid stomach after pregnancy or a distended, convex hormonal abdomen.
What causes stress belly?
As we already know, stress can cause the accumulation of fat around the waist and associated abdominal obesity. But how does this happen? It’s due to a disturbed hormonal balance and increased production of cortisol (called the stress hormone), which is produced in the adrenal glands. It is part of the body’s “fight or flight” response to a difficult situation or stressful event. Then, cortisol levels rise and glucose is released to give the body energy and increase focus and motivation to act.
However, prolonged stress disrupts this mechanism, and artificially maintained blood sugar levels lead to adipose tissue accumulation in the abdominal area and weight gain. Most cortisol receptors are found in the trunk area.
How do you know if you have a stressed belly?
In order to determine whether the stomach is stressful in a given case, attention should be paid to several factors. Abdominal fat deposits due to stress and high cortisol levels are associated with discomfort, prolonged loss of energy and lack of will to act. People with stomach stress also have problems with increased appetite, even after eating a full meal. Very high hunger and uncontrolled appetite can also occur after intense physical exertion. Such signs clearly indicate that the hormonal balance is disturbed and that there is an excess of stress hormone.
How to get rid of a stressed belly?
Losing unwanted pounds and getting rid of a stressed belly requires more than just exercise and good nutrition. While a balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and whole grains is important for weight loss, time to relax and rejuvenate is also important. After exercise, it is worthwhile to take a moment to rest. The activity should also be adapted to the abilities and condition of the person exercising. In order not to increase cortisol levels, training should not be too intense. Breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga are great for reducing stress.
Strength training is a good way to burn belly fat. However, any physical effort done with chronic fatigue and discomfort will not be very effective. Therefore, you must also take care of a healthy and quality sleep to regenerate the body. Insufficient sleep increases the level of cortisol and contributes to disrupt the production of leptin. Leptin is a hormone responsible for regulating metabolism and appetite. When its secretion is disrupted, we will be constantly hungry, which will lead to the consumption of more calories and the accumulation of fatty tissue.
To get rid of belly fat, you should also stop smoking and drinking coffee. Stress can be relieved by B vitamins and magnesium, as well as herbal teas like chamomile. You should also drink plenty of water and your diet should not be too restrictive. This can lead to hunger attacks and break-up resolutions.