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  • Alyssa Abrahamson

Unwanted belly fat? Cortisol may be the culprit

Did you know that your stress load impacts your weight? Especially belly fat?

When you’re constantly worried, not sleeping well, feeling anxious and overwhelmed, you’re in stress overload. And high cortisol may be the culprit!

What is cortisol?

Cortisol is a naturally-occurring steroid hormone known as the “stress hormone" that is produced and secreted by the adrenal glands, which sit on top of each kidney.

This cortisol secretion controls and regulates your mood, motivation, fear, and fight-or-flight response.

When you’re constantly stressed, your cortisol is constantly elevated, which in turn elevates your blood sugar, raising insulin, your fat storage hormone.

When you’re living in stress overload, even if you’re still eating the same amount or not eating that much, your body tends to hold on to more fat, especially your waistline, resulting in belly fat.

Why does stress-induced fat love your waistline so much?

Because the fat cells at your waistline have more cortisol receptors than the fat cells in other parts of your body.


The other thing is, when your cortisol is high, it can increase your cravings for salt and sugar!

But cortisol is about more than just about stress and unwanted belly fat.

Cortisol is critical for your body to function normally. Most of our cells have cortisol receptors that affect and regulate many processes throughout the body, including:

  • Blood pressure regulation

  • Inflammatory response

  • Metabolism regulation

  • Memory formulation

  • Controls your sleep/wake cycle

  • Blood sugar regulation

When your body is continually flooded with too much cortisol, it can cause additional symptoms such as:

  • Digestive issues, such as constipation, bloating, or diarrhea

  • High blood pressure

  • Thin and fragile skin that is slow to heal

  • Acne

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Fatigue

  • Irritability

  • Low libido, erectile dysfunction, or problems with regular ovulation or menstrual periods

  • Poor sleep and insomnia

Again, cortisol is actually a necessary and helpful part of the body’s stress response.

It’s only when your cortisol is constantly high, that it’s harmful to your health.

That’s why it’s important to tap into your body’s relaxation response to help yourself return to a balanced state, following any stressful experience. Here are some ways to do just that.

7 tips to ease your stress and keep your cortisol in check:

  1. Eat a whole foods, anti-inflammatory diet and stay away from processed foods and refined sugar (Check out my article, “Anti-Inflammatory Diet. What is it? Why is Everyone Talking about it?”)

  2. Exercise Regularly, but don’t overdo it. High-intensity workouts can raise cortisol levels. Try a brisk walk.

  3. Get enough sleep and keep a consistent sleep schedule.

  4. Learn to recognize stressful, detrimental thinking and make shifts to improve it. (Take a look at my article, “How to criticize yourself the right way”)

  5. Journal, get that shit out of your brain!

  6. Learn to relax and have fun (Read my article, “Too busy to play? Think again.”)

  7. Have sex! Masturbation counts.

Cheers to you and keeping your cortisol levels balanced!

Love, Your Wellness Coach,


October 13, 2020



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