Can Cortisol (Caused by stress) be keeping me from losing weight?
In short yes.
“Cortisol is not, in itself, bad—it’s just a hormone, But the amounts of cortisol in the body needs to be right.”
Cortisol may have the nickname the “stress hormone,” but this steroid hormone does way more than that. In fact, “cortisol is the most important hormone in the body because it touches literally every other system in the body,” says board-certified endocrinologist Elena A. Christofides, M.D., F.A.C.E.
It helps control blood sugar levels,
Regulates your metabolism
Regulates blood pressure,
Affects your sleep quality,
Impacts your sex life,
Assists with memory-making,
Aids in fetal health during pregnancy.
“Stress is anything that triggers the adrenal glands to produce more cortisol, so any stress (be it mental, emotional, or physical) can cause a cortisol response in the body, So our stress response is constantly telling our systems that we’re under attack, even when that ‘attack’ is just the go-go-go pace of everyday life. And over time, this can cause your cortisol levels to get out of whack, And that’s when cortisol can become a problem
How stress and cortisol (the hormone triggered by stress) can affect your body.
You have heard that stress is not good for you,
The following is a typical example of how the stress response operates as its intended survival mechanism:
- An individual is faced with a stressor.
- A complex hormonal cascade begins, as the adrenal glands secrete cortisol.
- Cortisol prepares the body for a fight-or-flight response by flooding it with glucose. Supplying an immediate energy source to large muscles.
- Cortisol inhibits insulin production in an attempt to prevent glucose from being stored. Favoring its immediate use.
- Cortisol narrows the arteries while epinephrine increases your heart rate. Both of which force blood to pump harder and faster.
- The individual addresses and resolves the situation.
- Hormone levels return to normal.
So what’s the problem?
When the natural stress response goes wild
The body’s stress-response system is usually self-limiting. Once a perceived threat has passed, hormone levels return to normal. As adrenaline and cortisol levels drop, your heart rate and blood pressure return to baseline levels, and other systems resume their regular activities.
But when stressors are always present and you constantly feel under attack, that fight-or-flight reaction stays turned on.
The long-term activation of the stress-response system and the overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones that follow can disrupt almost all your body’s processes. This puts you at increased risk of many health problems, including:
- Digestive problems
- Heart disease
- Sleep problems
- Weight gain
- Memory and concentration impairment
Can too much cortisol affect my workout and the benefits of working out?
Yes. High cortisol can lead to reduced protein synthesis, which in turn can inhibit muscle repair. It can also suppress the production of growth hormones and other hormones that contribute to muscle development.
It can also slow down your metabolism and hinder your athletic performance.
Here are some things you can try to lower your stress during your workouts and in everyday life, (therefore lowering your cortisol levels.)
Adequate recovery during and between workouts is essential to ensure that cortisol levels remain within a healthy range over time. When you don’t allow enough time for recovery, you may find that you hit a fitness plateau or experience other symptoms of overtraining, This can be discouraging to those starting out.
1 Minute in between sets allows your body to reset.
48-72 Hours rest before working the same muscle groups.
Get 7-8 hours of sleep!! You knew that was coming.
Workout in the morning. Where cortisol is naturally higher, and then naturally decreases throughout the day.
Take the time to do what you love, Reading, gardening, napping. If it brings you joy spend 30 minutes doing it!
Meditate: Meditation can produce a deep state of relaxation and a tranquil mind. During meditation, you focus your attention and eliminate the stream of jumbled thoughts that may be crowding your mind and causing stress. This process may result in enhanced physical and emotional well-being.
Do Yoga: Yoga can help reduce stress because it promotes relaxation, which is the natural opposite of stress. It also helps you focus your mind and takes your mind off what you are stressing about. Yoga can benefit three aspects of ourselves that are often affected by stress: our body, mind, and breathing.
Laugh: It’s hard to feel anxious when you’re laughing. It’s good for your health, Lighten up and loosen up, have some fun.
Learn to say no. This is especially true if you find yourself taking on more than you can handle, as juggling many responsibilities can leave you feeling overwhelmed.
What to do next.
Want more information on retraining your body so you can lower your cortisol, lose weight and build strength?
Click here to check out Total Body Reset