Let’s be real – we all have some degree of stress in our lives. Whether it be matters of the heart (love), your job, money, family, health — We all have something to worry about… Today, I want to talk to you specifically about a hormone I’m sure you’ve heard about many times, namely cortisol, aka the stress hormone and how that impacts our weight.
Your body releases cortisol in stressful situations. The hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine (the “fight or flight” response) is produced at the same time. Once the stressful event has passed, epinephrine and norepinephrine levels return to normal; however, cortisol levels can remain elevated over a more extended period. Cortisol has more than just one function in the body. Still, the ultimate goal of cortisol secretion is the provision of energy for the body.
Cortisol stimulates fat and carbohydrate metabolism for fast energy and stimulates insulin release and maintenance of blood sugar levels. This can lead to an increase in appetite and can cause cravings for sweet, high-fat, and salty foods. With elevated cortisol levels, the body also produces less testosterone, leading to a decrease in muscle mass. With less testosterone to build muscle mass, your body starts to burn fewer calories.
High-stress levels may also lead to cortisol affecting where you put on the weight in the body. Studies have shown that stress and elevated cortisol can cause fat deposition in the abdominal area rather than in the hips, often referred to as “toxic fat”. This fat has been linked to the development of a cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks and strokes.
Whether or not your stress levels will result in raised cortisol levels and weight gain cannot be foreseen. The amount of cortisol discharged in response to stress can differ among individuals, with some being innately more “reactive” to stressful events. Stress management is a crucial part of weight-loss regimens, particularly in those who have elevated cortisol levels. Exercise is the best and fastest method for weight loss in this case since exercise leads to the release of endorphins, which have natural stress-fighting features and can lower cortisol levels. Activities such as yoga, meditation can also help reduce your stress hormone levels. However, understanding your stress and finding healthy ways of dealing with them is another method to combat the control that cortisol has on your life. Practising mindfulness or eliminating unhealthy stressors from your life is also recommended.
To effectively reduce elevated cortisol due to stress, lifestyle changes are essential and shape must be in mind 😉
Hope you found today’s blog post helpful!
Yours in calm,
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