No one wants a muffin top and sometimes no matter how hard you work out, it doesn’t go away.

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Image: Cover Media

It isn’t just to do with what you eat though, as nutritionist Dr Marilyn Glenville points out that stress has a big impact on your middle, because hormones which encourage fat to be stored are released during periods of anxiety.

As well as being aesthetically unpleasing, this fat is harmful. As it wraps its way around your organs, health problems could come about, which are even harder to overcome than losing weight.

“Our modern lifestyles contain a variety of different stressful situations, including traffic jams, late trains, missed appointments, financial worries, work, family responsibilities, and simply day-to-day living at a top-speed pace,” Dr Glenville explained to MailOnline.

“Adrenaline is released almost constantly when we are stressed, and its effect can be very powerful.”

She notes that if this sounds familiar, and your arms and legs remain untouched by excess flab, you should be careful. The fat around your middle could lead to problems such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and even more worryingly, cancer.

But she does have some tips on how you can lower your risks, starting with having a more relaxed lifestyle. There’s so much stress to be encountered on a day-to-day basis, and when you come into contact with it, the stress hormone cortisol is released along with adrenaline. These help you cope with the situation, but don’t help you keep weight off. The more stress, the more hormones encouraging fat storage will be triggered. So try to find a means of calming down, whether it’s yoga or reading a book.

Rather than crash dieting to keep trim in the tummy area, Dr Glenville urges you to simply be sensible about your food, as cutting out treats and counting calories can lead to more stress, especially when you feel you’ve let yourself down.

She also recommends eating every three hours to keep your sugar and energy levels stable, and that the advice that you shouldn’t eat carbs after 6pm still stands. You’ll be less likely to suffer anxiety when feeling content and full.

Lastly, be picky about what fats you eat. Essential fats are found in foods like oily fish, nuts and seeds, and will help keep your tummy in shape rather than it ballooning into a muffin top. — COVER MEDIA