"Stress belly" or "stress-induced abdominal fat" is abdominal fat buildup caused by continuous stress.
Chronic stress triggers the "fight or flight" response, releasing cortisol. Higher cortisol levels favor belly fat formation.
Adipocytes (abdominal fat cells) have more cortisol receptors than other fat cells. This increases belly fat cortisol response.
Impact on Insulin Sensitivity: Stress and high cortisol levels can cause insulin resistance. Abdominal fat storage increases with insulin resistance.
Stress can alter metabolism, making energy-dense foods heavy in carbohydrates and fats more appealing. Unhealthy diet and changed metabolism can cause weight gain.
Comfort eating is a common stress-reduction strategy. Consuming calorie-dense foods, especially carbohydrates and fats, can cause belly fat.
Chronic stress may affect sleep quality and duration. Poor sleep can cause hormonal changes that increase weight and belly fat.
Genetics affect stress response and fat storage. Inherited stress belly may occur in some persons.