Last Updated on August 23, 2021 by Femniqe Editorial
Too much cortisol(Stress hormone) in the body doesn’t only affect you mentally but also the way you look in particular, the lower belly area.
That being said, they’re ways you keep can keep it check.
What is Cortisol Belly Fat?
Cortisol Belly Fat is the abdominal fat that is caused by an imbalance between Cortisol and Sex Hormones.
The major causes of this hormonal imbalance are stress, sleep deprivation and dieting with insufficient protein intake.
Mainstream medicine does not acknowledge cortisol as a fat burning hormone or sex hormone, however it acts in exactly the same way as other hormones e.g. testosterone in increasing muscle gain, increasing metabolism of stored fats while decreasing hunger (and promoting energy deficit).
In addition to causing an increase in belly fat cortisol also increases insulin resistance which leads to diabetes type 2 and cardiovascular disease.
Studies have shown that Americans are 3 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes then they were in 1980.
Stress and Cortisol
Stress is the major cause of cortisol imbalance. It is important to understand that cortisol, unlike other hormones, does not act upon demand, but rather it does so on a 24 hour rhythm called the circadian rhythm.
People who wake up around 4-5am and go to bed late close to midnight will have more stress than those who sleep/wake at 8-10 pm or earlier.
The increased stress from waking early causes many health problems including reduced insulin sensitivity, increased abdominal fat storage and elevated blood pressure (Hacking Hormones).
This is why you should aim to get 6+ hours of uninterrupted quality sleep per night with an objective of going to bed before midnight.
One study showed that 90% of health problems can be traced back to stress. Thus the recommendation is rather simple, reduce your cortisol levels through sleep and other relaxation techniques.
Another important point related to stress is that young children who are exposed to chronic over stimulation, e.g. cell phones, computer games, TV etc in early childhood suffer from increased cortisol levels as they get older which lead to obesity type 2 diabetes and accelerated aging.
Research has shown that people with high cortisol have belly fat because of a phenomenon called ‘cross talk’ whereby the hormone ACTH increases at the same time as cortisol does making us more hungry than others thereby causing weight gain around the stomach area.
18 tips to reduce stress belly fat
1) Get 6+ hours of sleep every night. Go to bed before 11 pm and wake up before 7 am.
2) Do stress reduction techniques, such as meditation or yoga , because they reduce the release of cortisol on an hourly basis reducing fat storage around the waistline!
3) Avoid going to bed late close to midnight (after 10 pm), this can make it more difficult for you to fall asleep so it is recommended to keep your bedroom for sleep only. You should not use your computer after 9 pm.
4) Take a Nap in the afternoon if you are sleepy from 2:00pm onwards, napping will help you recover from stress
5) Reduce your exposure to electromagnetic radiation, e.g. cell phones, computers etc as they have been linked to increased cortisol levels and skin aging (Vincent C.) This is potentially one of the most important things you can do for your health!
6) Eat right with more quality proteins during the day reducing carbs and avoid sugar which raises Cortisol every time you eat it!
7) Do not diet! Dieting increases cortisol production in women making it much harder to lose weight.
In females Cortisol activates the sex hormone binding globulin causing fat loss from breasts hips thighs and buttocks while re-distributing that fat around the belly area. Thus dieting causes increased cortisol levels and belly fat!
8) Make sure you get sufficient sunlight exposure every day. This will help reduce the stress on your body which will lower your Cortisol levels, improve insulin sensitivity and cause weight loss around the waist. It has also been shown to have anti aging properties (e.g. increase skin elasticity).
This is important because stress induced cortisol actually speeds up cell division thereby causing premature aging of the skin decreasing its elasticity making it easier for wrinkles to form.
9) Eat more proteins during the day especially chicken breast, fish etc as they are easy to digest, high in nutrients and are an excellent way to burn fat while having low carbohydrates at the same time.
10) Reduce your intake of pro-inflammatory omega 6 fats and focus on anti-inflammatory Omega 3 fats, which will reduce cortisol release at the cellular level.
11) Take fish oil supplements for healthy skin in women as fish oil reduces wrinkles, improves elasticity and makes skins less dry!. Fish oil also makes you look younger by increasing cell repair mechanisms thereby slowing down aging!
12) Increase your intake of carbs later in the day after 3:00 pm (e.g. sweet potato or brown rice). This is important because it has been shown to increase fat burning especially around the abdominal zone! Thus aim to eat most carbs later rather than earlier in the day…
13) Do not eat too much red meat for it raises IGF-1 levels which play a role in accelerating aging and increasing wrinkles! Avoid chicken with the skin as they contain high amounts of pro inflammatory omega 6 fats. Instead eat more fish, grass fed beef or pork.
14) Drink plenty of water to keep cortisol production at lowest possible level because dehydration causes increased cortisol release by the adrenal glands…
15) Reduce your exposure to electromagnetic radiation (e.g. cell phones, computers etc.) as they have been linked to increased cortisol levels and skin aging (Vincent C.) … This is potentially one of the most important things you can do for your health!
16) Make sure you get enough sleep each night because long term stress inhibits the rebuilding of your immune system, making you susceptible to coughs and colds.
17) Have sex most nights. Sex reduces release of essential neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin and GABA which can help lower cortisol levels while increasing human growth hormones that improve skin and health.
18) Do not eat late into the night for your body is better suited to digest during daytime hours rather than at nighttime. Eating later in the night increases cortisol production in women making it much harder to lose weight!