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PostHeaderIcon How Stress Leads to Belly Fat, Part I of my series on what to do about belly bulge

This is how having too many stress hormones can lead to belly fat:

When under pressure, we release stress hormones from our adrenal glands. These hormones help the body work into overdrive in order to cope with hardship, fear, lack of rest or overtraining. Norepinephrine is first released, stopping your body from producing insulin. This is an example of how stress can lead to diabetes. Ephinephrine relaxes your digestive organs so blood can go to other parts of the body in case you need to run or fight. Then cortisol is released which tells these hormones to stop working so you can go back to a neutral state and start digesting food again.

When the body senses that there is lots of cortisol being released, it thinks it is going through many hardships. The natural assumption is that it is going to starve. It starts to store fat. It takes the fat away from healthier areas such as the hips, and moves it to the abdominal region where the cortisol receptors are located. This fat is stored deep, right around the organs where your stomach is located. This creates inflammation and insulin resistance in the body. The enzymes in this belly fat releases more cortisol, creating even more belly fat. The cycle repeats itself.

How do we keep stress below unhealthy levels? Understand that the body has basic needs in order to keep itself healthy. These needs are exercise, sleep, proper nutrition, healthy relationships and rest. If you are lacking any of these things, you are under stress and the body will overcompensate by releasing stress hormones. If you don’t have time to exercise, make the time. It could cost you your health. Even light movements such as walking for thirty minutes a day is better than nothing. Find the time to get enough sleep. If you can’t sleep, that is also a sign of stress. Stay away from foods that are high in sugar and caffeine. These foods throw your body out of balance. Make sure you are getting enough protein, carbs and vegatables; but not too much. Make sure you are drinking enough water. If you are in an emotionally draining situation, you owe it to yourself to deal with it. Don’t ignore the situation, allowing stress to build. Get counseling, read books, open the lines of communication, or leave the situation. Sometimes our own attitudes can lead to stress. Do you see everything as a threat, thereby causing your body to release fear and stress hormones? Remember that too much or too little of anything can cause stress. For more on how to handle stress, check out Ellie Miraftabi’s post on how to turn stress into strength here: http://heroestraining.com/?p=256

For more on belly bulge, check out part II of this series, How Bloating Can Lead to a Large Belly: http://heroestraining.com/?p=421

You can check out part III of this series, Belly Fat and Muscle: http://heroestraining.com/?p=428

By: Rhea Morales

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