How Cortisol Causes Stress Belly Fat

Last updated on November 13, 2022

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Did you know that high-stress levels are closely linked with the accumulation of fats around your stomach?

Prolonged stress can make you add a lot of pounds to your belly, and such a type of belly is known as a stress belly.

Whenever you are stressed, the adrenal glands release a hormone known as cortisol that causes weight gain.

Understand How Cortisol hormone causes Belly Fat

stressed woman

Cortisol is an essential hormone that controls blood sugar levels and the body’s metabolism. It is also part of how your respond to fight or flight.

Whenever you are faced with a problem, cortisol will slow down some body functions to focus on that issue that is stressing you out.

 If you can overcome that stress, your body will get back to normal. 

However, this not possible when you have prolonged and intense stress. Cortisol levels will increase to keep up with the situation that you are going through.

Along with this, you could suffer from high blood pressure.

Studies reveal that increased cortisol levels in your body can cause abdominal obesity and increase your body weight. 

Cortisol will make fats to be redistributed and stored in the abdominal area. 

Additionally, it increases your appetite. If you are a person who finds comfort in food when stressed, you are likely to experience a lot of weight gain in your abdomen. 

How To Treat Stress Belly Caused By Cortisol

The primary way to treat or avoid a stressed-out belly is to avoid stress.

It is almost impossible to avoid prolonged and intense stress. But there are things that you can do to manage it and minimize its impact. 

1) Exercise 

ab training mistakes

Exercising is an excellent way to unwind and boost your mood. You can do less intense exercises like walking and also intense workouts such as running and weight lifting.

2) Watch your diet

Even though you are stressed, avoid overeating food than you usually would or snacking on unhealthy foods as this will lead to the accumulation of more fats in your tummy.

3) Avoid alcohol or drink it in moderation


When stressed, you might drink a lot of alcohol to ease the pain. However, this will only accelerate your problem with stress belly.

Alcohol contains a lot of empty calories that will be stored as fats around your waist.

4) Consult a doctor

If your stress won’t go away, it would be wise to consult with a doctor. The anxiety, panic attacks, depression, and rapid increase in weight could be a sign of a bigger problem. 


While cortisol is an essential hormone in the body, too much of it can lead to an increase in abdominal fat. This is not healthy.

While you may not avoid stress altogether, it is wise to learn ways to cope with it and manage it.

Exercising and eating healthy foods are ways to prevent further accumulation of belly fat due to stress.

If you are stressed, and your belly keeps increasing, it would be wise to seek doctors' intervention. They may give medication and prevent further issues. 

About the author

Nikita Clark

As a personal trainer that specializes in weight loss and body transformation, I know how it feels to be overweight. Just 10 years ago, I could barely walk for two minutes without needing a rest. But I turned my life around and I want to help you do the same.  

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