How Stress Makes Women Fat (and How to Get Rid of Both!)

We've all seen those commercials on TV that warn of "stubborn belly fat" brought on by too much stress. The pills being hawked on these programs promise to block the stress hormone, cortisol.

Ever wonder if there's any truth to what they're saying?

The Truth
             Cortisol is a corticosteroid hormone produced by the adrenal gland in your adrenal cortex. It's your body's modern-day answer to the "fight or flight" responses we had to stress (back when we were true hunters and gatherers).


-          Increases blood pressure and blood sugar

-          Breaks down lipids and proteins (in case you'd rather 'fight' than 'flight')

-          Acts as a water diuretic hormone (leading to dehydration)

-          Physically eats away at the pleasure centers of the brain (producers of norepinephrine, epinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine)

So cortisol DOES exist and is indeed harmful to the body if left unchecked.

Before You Buy a Pill
             Don't place your order with the number on the bottom of your screen just yet…there's a catch (isn't there always?)

Most of these pills rely on dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), a natural steroid hormone with calming affects on the central nervous system.

Possible Side Effects of DHEA:
              According to the Mayo Clinic's website (, possible side effects include, but are not limited to:

-          Nausea

-          Abdominal discomfort

-          Fatigue

-          Nasal congestion

-          Headache

-          Acne

-          Rapid/Irregular heartbeats.

But Wait, There's More!
    � �          Straight from "In women, the most common side effects are abnormal menses, emotional changes, headache, and insomnia. Individuals with a history of abnormal heart rhythms, blood clots or hypercoagulability, and those with a history of liver disease should avoid DHEA supplements.


Because DHEA is a hormone related to other male and female hormones, there may be side effects related to its hormonal activities. For example, masculinization may occur in women, including acne, greasy skin, facial hair, hair loss, increased sweating, weight gain around the waist, or a deeper voice. Likewise, men may develop more prominent breasts (gynecomastia), breast tenderness, increased blood pressure, testicular wasting, or increased aggressiveness. Other hormonal-related side effects may include increased blood sugar levels, insulin resistance, altered cholesterol levels, altered thyroid hormone levels, and altered adrenal function. Cauti on is advised in patients with diabetes or hyperglycemia, high cholesterol, thyroid disorders, or other endocrine (hormonal) abnormalities. Serum glucose, cholesterol and thyroid levels may need to be monitored by a healthcare professional, and medication adjustments may be necessary.

In theory, DHEA may increase the risk of developing prostate, breast, or ovarian cancer. DHEA may contribute to tamoxifen resistance in breast cancer. Other side effects may include insomnia, agitation, delusions, mania, nervousness, irritability, or psychosis.

High DHEA levels have been correlated with Cushing's syndrome, which may be caused by excessive supplementation." (Source:, Copyright 2008)

In easy to understand terms…that's turning women into men and vice versa! And since when is CANCER a good trade-off for losing weight?

What Does It All Mean?
            Numero Uno – There's no 'magic pill' that will get rid of the stress and block cortisol (without killing you in the process).

So what can you do to relieve stress, build antibodies, and get rid of fat all at the same time WITHOUT taking hours out of your day to drive to the gym, workout, shower, and get on with your life?

My solution: Yoga.

There's nothing like a good, fifteen minute total-body workout that focuses on muscle toning and deep breathing to relinquish stress and help you lose weight!  And let's face it, you've never seen a woman look like a muscle-y linebacker when she's finished with her yoga session, have you? Who wants to risk even more with hidden dietary nightmares in a pill?

Imagine stress-free bill paying, calmly telling the kids to sit down for the tw entieth time, and picking up your husband's dirty socks from the middle of the floor (yet again) with tranquility.

Your own living room suddenly becomes your spa!

Use yoga to remove the stress from all of your daily activities, and you can face each day with more energy, more time, and more LIFE!

Rachel D. Young is a certified Fitness Trainer and Editor-in-chief of Beautiful Curves, a monthly newsletter full of recipes, exercise, and motivational materials centered around how women can easily become healthy and beautiful, naturally and quickly. Learn more about her at