You don’t have to be overweight to have fat around your middle.
Even a lean woman (or man) of normal weight can have too much in the centre of the body and this still carries risks.
It has to do with the action of stress hormones in your body, particularly the stress hormone cortisol.
When we get stressed, our bodies go into “fight or flight” mode, releasing adrenaline and cortisol, which helps us deal efficiently with the physical effort involved in fighting or fleeing.
But when that effort doesn’t come, the extra energy (in the form of glucose and fat) just gets redeposited as fat — around the middle.
Why there? Because it’s close to the liver where it can most quickly be converted back into energy if needed. And what’s more, cortisol levels stay elevated once the “threat” has passed because it thinks you have been running or fighting for your life and you need increased appetite to stock up again.
Unfortunately, the kind of chronic stress that many of us live under these days produces constantly elevated cortisol levels. The associated increased appetite and comparatively little physical exercise, results in that bulge around the middle.
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