Stress will make you fat and skinny Heres Why
Hello again! Welcome to our next session on hormones that affect our ability to lose weight! Last time we talked a little bit about the “hunger hormones” – Ghrelin and Leptin. This time we’re going to dive into some hormones that are a little more well known. In fact, you’ve probably heard of them before – they are known as the Cortisol, Estrogen, and Thyroid hormones. So let’s stop wasting time and jump right in!
Cortisol – The “Stress” Hormone
Cortisol is often referred to as the “stress hormone” for reasons you have probably already guessed – it regulates stress. It’s basically like a built-in alarm system that fuels your bodies to fight or flight response in response to crisis situations. But in addition to that, it also helps to regular your mood, your motivation, and your fear. Other things cortisol does? Manages inflammation, regulates blood pressure, controls your sleep cycle, boosts energy levels, and yes, as you have probably already guessed, manages how your body uses carbs, fats, and proteins.
How does Cortisol work?
Cortisol is made by your adrenal glands, located right above your kidneys. When your blood doesn’t have enough cortisol pumping through it, your brain (or more specifically your hypothalamus and pituitary gland) adjusts the amount of hormones made by sending signals to the adrenal glands. It is then the job of the adrenal glands to amend the amount of cortisol released to the appropriate amount.
So how does Cortisol affect our weight?
We referred to as Cortisol as the “stress hormone”. And have you ever heard that stress can make you gain weight? Well, this isn’t just a rumor! When you’re under constant stress, your body’s alarm system is constantly “on”. In other words, your cortisol levels stay high. In return, your body thinks it is going through hardship and could end up starving. As a result, it starts storing more fat around the midsection.
Not only that, but in an attempt to get you through a stressful situation, constant cortisol production will also lead to increased insulin levels and increased blood sugars. Unfortunately, high blood sugar is directly related to increased sugar cravings. And as we all know, the more sugar we consume, the more fat we store.
What can you do to limit Cortisol production?
1) Reduce your stress levels – Given that Cortisol is referred to as the stress hormone, it would only make sense that you need to lower your stress levels to manage it. Remove the source of your stress, or find ways to better deal with it. Make time for things you enjoy doing, ensure that you get an adequate amount of rest each night, and create time in your day for things like meditation and mindfulness. And remember, stress can come in many forms. Physical stress, social stress, emotional stress, environmental stress, and health-related stress can all increase your Cortisol levels and contribute to weight gain.
2) Avoid Over-restricting your Calorie intake – Over-restricting your calories puts increased loads of stress on your body. Of course, when you’re trying to lose weight, cutting your calories can be extremely tempting. But prolonged caloric restriction (over 21 days) can put extra stress on your body. In return, cortisol levels are increased. Not only that, but caloric restriction can also damage your metabolism, and cause changes to your thyroid functioning (which we will talk about shortly), which will both also affect your weight.
So, it’s okay to manage your calorie intake, but avoid restricting it too much. Use whole foods to provide your body with the building blocks that it needs to energy production.
3) Eat Healthy Complex Carbohydrates – Again, when we are trying to lose weight, we often jump to the idea of cutting out carbohydrates completely. Like restricting our calories, this can often do more harm than good. In fact, studies suggest that individuals struggling with an over-production of cortisol may actually need more carbohydrates to get things under control. Stick with healthy carbs from things like vegetables, whole fruits, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, and you will be able to manage your cortisol without gaining weight. Note if you are following a Keto eating program this should help lower cortisol. If you’re not following a very low hi fat program you should be balancing out your complex carbohydrates Aka Slow Carbs.
Other things you can do to manage your Cortisol levels?
▪ Avoid toxic chemicals – Chemicals like MSG and aspartame, and those found in beauty products and cleaning chemicals, place an extreme amount of stress on the body.
▪ Exercise sensibly – More doesn’t always mean better. Balance your exercise regime with a mixture of resistance training, stretching, and cardio.
▪ Sleep it off – 8 hours of sleep can help to balance cortisol levels.
▪ Get a massage – Studies have shown that massages can actually help to reduce Cortisol levels. So now you have a great excuse to pamper yourself!
▪ Laugh – Did you know that laughing can reduce Cortisol levels by up to 39 percent?
So there you have it, that’s how Cortisol can make you gain weight! Keep your stress low, and go get a relaxing massage!
So the point is rest and relaxation is just as important as Nutrition
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