You may be one of those people who store all the fat around their stomach, and you don’t have to be overweight to have excess fat around the stomach.  If this is you, it can be a very good indication of metabolic changes in your body.

This is not all down to diet and exercise, but can be indicative of stress hormones being overloaded.  Our caveman life had few but serious stresses, during which time we prepared for ‘fight or flight’, and the body reacted with various hormones and chemicals in response to that.  Modern life has daily less life threatening stresses, but these can be continuous causing physical reactions and changes without us even realising the impact on our health, and our shape.

During stress, Adrenaline is released which speeds your heart, shuts down digestion, increases your blood pressure  and breathing to increase blood and oxygen to muscles; and Cortisol which releases glucose and fat into the bloodstream for energy.  Once the stress is over, Adrenaline returns to normal quite quickly, but Cortisol can hang around for longer, the body is then encouraged to refuel, and unless the excess glucose and fat is used in physical activity, it is stored around the middle.  Why?   Because this is closest to the liver enabling it to be converted back to energy most quickly.

If your body perceives an on- going stress (which can also be lack of sleep, traffic jams, relationship problems), it needs to keep a ready- made fat store for constant use, which it does by causing hunger and cravings for fats, sugars and carbohydrates.

To remedy this, you need to:

  • Eat little and often
  • Avoid sugar and refined carbohydrates (foods made with white flour, crisps, cakes and biscuits)
  • Balance blood sugar by eating more protein with each meal and more good fats (nuts, seeds, olive oil, avocados and oily fish)
  • Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol, smoking and fizzy drinks
  • Exercise enough to make you sweat and build up muscle (good for combating stress)
  • Take appropriate supplements (consult a Nutritional Therapist)
  • Reduce stress – make lifestyle changes and build in relaxation


There are a number of tests you can have done which measure the amount of Cortisol in your blood, and how resistant you are to insulin (an indication of whether you may develop type 2 diabetes).


Sam Silvester is a qualified Nutritionist who works with people to change their diet and lifestyle to reduce fat and combat stress.  Contact her for an appointment or phone consultation on 07767 260374.

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