The Dr. Oz Belly Fat Cure – How Stress and Cortisol Affect Belly Size

“I can usually tell if someone is stressed out or not just by looking at their belly size.”

- Dr. Mehmet Oz in First for Women

Image via Wikipedia

Stress can affect every aspect of our lives depending on how severe it is and what its triggers are.  According to Dr. Oz, a large belly can tell you just how much stress is affecting your life, your health, and your appearance.

Even women who are dieting and exercising can hold on to belly weight because of stress.  And we all know that we women have a lot of stress.  I know I do.  Think about all of the things you have to deal with day in and day out that may stress you out.

Here’s my list of stress-causing worries:

  1. My kids and their health and education,
  2. My boys’ and my food allergies, nasal allergies, and asthma,
  3. My Dysthymia, lack of energy, high anxiety issues, and other mental health problems,
  4. The day-to-day work, housework, cooking, cleaning, etc…,
  5. My husband’s job and jam packed schedule,
  6. Medications, doctor visits, appointment scheduling…

That’s pretty basic, and I could break it down further, but I don’t want to bore you with too many details.  But ask yourself, how does it compare with your regular day-to-day concerns and stresses?

This doesn’t even factor in the sudden things that blind side us such as a sudden illness of a family member, hospitalizations, Emergency Room visits, moving, deaths in the family, etc…

How does Stress Affect Belly Size?

There are obvious ways stress affects us negatively. It can cause irritability, tiredness, loss of energy, loss of appetite or an increased appetite, make us crave unhealthy things such as sugary foods with no nutritional value, etc…  All of these come together and cause weight gain, but it’s the type of weight gain that it causes that makes it different from anything else.

When we are chronically stressed out, our bodies believe we are in peril.  We can thank evolution for this one, as the chronic stress of our ancestors was usually related to famine or extreme danger from a predator.  Such stress meant the body needed to store up fat for fuel to keep from starving or to give extra energy for the fight or flight against the predator.

Today, though, our stress is different.  We are not facing famine.  Quite the contrary, in fact.  Food is plentiful.  So whenever we are stressed, our bodies think we need food, even when we don’t.  And as we eat that double cheeseburger, our body is storing every ounce of fat in it for the famine that it thinks is approaching, or the marathon it thinks we need to run to escape that saber tooth that no longer exists.  The body does this with the help of a naturally occurring steroid produced by the body called cortisol.

You’ve no doubt seen those commercials about cortisol and how it causes stubborn belly fat.  They’re selling you pills that don’t work, but their information about what causes belly fat is true according to Dr. Oz.  The cortisol makes you hungry, even when you don’t need food, because you’re stressed out.

Why Diets Don’t Work as Belly Fat Cures

Here’s the skinny (pun intended) on dieting and why it doesn’t do bupkiss for belly fat:

Dieting causes stress and releases more cortisol which causes more belly fat.

When you obsess over every calorie you consume, this causes stress.  By not having as many calories and allowing yourself to feel hungry, your body prepares itself for famine as it assumes that food is no longer as readily available as it once was.

This is also a perfect explanation as to why we have such a high rate of obesity.

If Dieting Doesn’t Work as a Belly Fat Cure, What Will?

A combination of Omega 3 Fatty Acids and Vitamin C.  That’s the short answer.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids burn away belly fat by reducing stress. Fish oil has long been recommended as a natural way of treating depression symptoms because of its omega 3 content.  In addition, it prevents the body from producing too much insulin, which causes fat storage, and burns away fat that’s already present in the body.

The recommendation for Omega 3s is to get it in the form of fish, cod liver, or krill oils.  However, flax seed oil is also a good source of Omega 3 fatty acids for those who are allergic to fish or shellfish or are practicing vegetarians or vegans.  A dose of 1-3 grams of fish oil with EPA and DHA daily will cause your BMI (Body Mass Index) to be reduced by 30% more than women who don’t have omega 3s.

Ambersweet oranges, a new cold-resistant orang...

Image via Wikipedia

Vitamin C is a well-known immune system booster, but did you know it also affects the adrenal glands in a big way?  Vitamin C is a major player in how stress affects the body, and if you’re feeling stressed out, you need more Vitamin C to meet the demand.

Here’s the problem.  If you are getting what you consider is enough Vitamin C, you should be fine.  If you become stressed, you need more Vitamin C.  If you don’t take that Vitamin C, your adrenal glands will be depleted of this necessary vitamin.  This registers in the body as a new stress factor and, well, I’m sure you can see the circular pattern this creates…an never-ending cycle of stress and Vitamin C depletion.

This also explains why stress opens you up to more illness.

To stress proof your body, Dr. Oz says that you should consume between 1200 and 3000 mg of Vitamin C per day in the form of fruits, vegetables and supplements.

To learn more about belly fat and how to get rid of it, go and check out the Dr. Oz Belly Fat Diet.

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  1. It’s a great website. You truly have a lot of useful ideas and information. I am using the “7 on 2 off diet” ( I believe that is what it’s called ). Anyways, it has worked quite well for me, I have lost nearly 19 puonds since the first of January. Continue the great work, I’m going to check back in.

  2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Cathi Churchill, Jen is Always Sick. Jen is Always Sick said: The @droz Belly Fat Cure – How Stress and Cortisol Affect Belly Size #stress #fitblog #mentalhealth #alwayssick [...]

  3. Arlene Chase says:

    Good information. I take Omega-3 but will look at increasing my vitamin C.

  4. Jennifer says:

    Arlene – I got a Vitamin C powder at Whole Foods. They also had a liquid form there as well. I think either of those would be best, although the chewables would work as well…but those are generally riddled with sweeteners and flavorings that I’d rather avoid. I just don’t like to get pills to swallow, because the absorption of those aren’t very predictable and usually you don’t get what the label says as a result…just like with multivitamins. Just a few suggestions from me to you.

    What form of Omega 3 do you take, if you don’t mind me asking? fish oil, cod liver oil, krill oil, flax seed oil?

  5. Thanks for interesting information. I didn’t know that there is such relation between omega 3 fish oil and vitamin C and that you need more vitamin C if you are stressed. I will try to increase the daily amount of this vitamin myself and check if it helps me enough to notice the difference.

  6. Just wanted to say thanks for this.

  7. Great information for a newbie like myself! Much appreciated.

  8. Superb post. Five stars for you for sharing it.

    With respect,

  9. Indeed! The fastest method to begin losing substantial weight is to go through a detoxification diet plan to flushout the toxins that block up your colon and poison your body.

  10. I need desperately to get in shape. I’m approaching 40 and OUT OF SHAPE! So much so that everyday tasks are hard to do and sometimes breathtaking. I want to go to the gym, I feel better after I do, but gosh it is so hard to just GO. Any advise?

  11. Jennifer says:

    The best way to motivate is to have a work-out buddy. I always did very well when I had a girlfriend to go to the gym with. We had some girl time and worked off our new mommy stress together. I don’t have a workout buddy anymore. My husband is very much into fitness, but the things he does are things I don’t really do with him or stuff you can’t really socialize while doing (like swimming).

    I think that just making yourself (and myself – lol) just GO even when you don’t want to just GO is the only way to do it. Eventually, you’ll want to go all the time. At least, that’s what they tell me… lol

  12. cornelia tuttle says:

    On a recent show you suggested Forskilin supplement for belly fat. Will this supplement cause sleeplessness? Thank you.

  13. Always Sick Chick says:

    Cornelia – this site is not run or written by Dr. Oz. If you want to contact Dr. Oz, visit his site at

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