"While stress may possibly play a role in increasing belly fat through insulin sensitivity, the more insidious way and common way which stress influences the production of belly fat is through selective deposition of free fatty acids. Cortisol actively selects for fat to be deposited as belly fat instead of subcutaneous fat!
We are not certain why cortisol has this effect, but a well-regarded theory is that it serves the body well, when stressed, to store its excess energy in a readily available form.
Belly fat is easier to release and burn than subcutaneous fat, so storing excess energy as belly fat favors a quick energy response to stress, allowing us to escape a future stressful situation better. But when the stress is constant, we just keep storing more and more fat in the belly, and since our response to stress is usually not running or climbing, we never give the body the opportunity to burn the fat back off!"
"While stress is itself an unpleasant psychological state, it is cortisol which wreaks havoc upon our body when it is chronically high, and it is cortisol which tells the body to store belly fat. Psychological aspects of stress may encourage "stress eating" or other detrimental behaviors, and for this reason stress management techniques are important, but in the short-term we can also try to fix cortisol levels and reduce the overall health risk associated with chronically high cortisol levels and the belly fat it encourages."
Keep Reading: Stress and Belly Fat, How To Get Rid Of Belly Fat