A lot of people ask us, “How does stress cause belly fat? How is my being stressed about work, money, or family going to cause me to not only gain weight, but actually pack fat onto my gut?”

It might seem silly—after all, the stress happens in your brain, far away from your belly—but the truth is that your entire body is linked. What happens in your brain will often manifest elsewhere!

Below, we’re going to answer the question “How does stress cause belly fat?” by taking a cold, hard look at how your mental stress can cause you to gain weight. The truth may surprise you!

How Does Stress Cause Belly Fat? The Mind-Body Connection is Real!

When you are stressed, most of the stress definitely does take place in your mind. You spend a lot of your time worrying about whatever problems are causing the stress, and your brain spins at a million miles an hour with all the anxious, worried, and stressful thoughts.

You may think that it’s all isolated inside your brain, but the truth is that mental stress can have a lot of very physical reactions in your body.

You see, stress triggers your “fight or flight” response. This causes a spike in cortisol and adrenaline, which produces a lot of energy in the short-term, but in the long-term will actually slow down your metabolism and impair your body’s ability to use the food you eat for energy. Over time, your body will store more and more fat because the stress is “teaching” it that it needs to prepare for a state of emergency.

A slower metabolism can cause weight and fat gain even if your diet remains unchanged. If you burn 200 calories fewer per day than you did before you were stressed but still eat the same amount, those 200 calories have to go somewhere—and it’s always going to be your body’s fatty deposits.

Stress can also stop your body from utilizing energy efficiently. Cortisol can actually suppress the production of estrogen and testosterone, the two hormones that play a role in healthy female and male body function. Testosterone, in particular, is vital for maintaining energy levels—and, it turns out, a healthy sex drive. Chronic stress can wreak havoc on your mind and some VERY important parts of your body.

But that’s not all stress can do. In fact, we’re just getting started!

When you’re stressed, aside from the internal effects triggered by chronic high levels of the stress hormone cortisol, there are other external effects:

  • You forget to drink water, which leads to dehydration. Your body can actually misinterpret thirst signals as hunger pangs, so you end up eating when you really just need some fluid. This leads to an excessively high caloric intake which—yes, you guessed it—adds to your body’s fat storage.

  • You skip meals because you’re stressed or busy. In turn, when you do get around to eating, you end up OVER-eating, or, even worse, eating the wrong food—i.e., fatty, unhealthy junk food. Skipping meals is one of the worst things you can do if you’re trying to eat healthy!

  • You binge on unhealthy junk foods and “comfort foods” because they provide a temporary satiation to your cravings or give you a short-term mood boost that helps to counteract the stress. Each time you eat them, however, the mood boost is less and less, so you have to eat more junk food to get the same “high” or “rush”.

  • You eat too much because stress is telling your body that you need more food. High cortisol levels may actually elevate hunger signals from the brain, but it won’t increase your body’s natural energy burning furnaces. As a result, you’ll feel the need to eat more, but you won’t actually use more energy. The result: fat gain!

  • You struggle to fit in exercise, and can’t make time to cook and eat healthy. Being stressed about your daily life can make it difficult to fit in the things that are important for your health. Exercise is usually the first thing to be cut from your life, along with healthy cooking and eating. You end up working so hard to manage stress that your health suffers.

  • You go on crash or strict diets to counteract all the weight you’ve been putting on, only to rebound from minor weight loss to gain even more weight and body fat.

The truth is that stress is the WORST thing you can live with! It’s a known risk factor for a ridiculously high number of diseases, disorders, and chronic conditions, and it can make any existing health problems or life challenges exponentially worse. If you want to live a healthy life and keep off the belly fat, it’s absolutely imperative that you manage stress!

How Does Stress Cause Belly Fat? Eliminate Stress and Body Fat with Get Yoga Lean

Yoga Lean is our answer to your problems. It’s a holistic mind-body program that will not only help you counteract weight gain and lose belly fat, but also give you the tools to manage your stress. Using the foundation of Yoga in a uniquely tailored workout and lifestyle program, Yoga Lean will be your key to combatting the stressors in your life.

And trust me, you’re going to want to combat stress! As you’ve seen above, it’s a major cause of weight gain, but it can also be a major risk factor in everything from obesity to diabetes to heart disease to mental health issues. Taking steps to manage your stress will improve your quality of life exponentially. You’ll never have to ask “How does stress cause belly fat?” or “How does stress impact my life negatively?” ever again because you’ll be living a stress-free life!