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Cortisol and Weight Gain



What is Cortisol:

Cortisol is a stress hormone produced by the body’s adrenal glands.  We all have stress, and I know it seems unavoidable. However, the main thing we need to focus on is how we deal with stress. Reason being is that elevated cortisol levels from a stressful lifestyle contribute to weight gain, particularly in the abdominal area.  As if you didn’t have enough to worry about already right? If stress is not dealt with properly, your body never gets a chance to return to normal and you develop a condition known as chronic stress.

With chronic stress and increased abdominal fat, you’re at greater risk for heart attack, stroke,  the development of higher levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and lower levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL), which can lead to other health problems!

Higher and more prolonged levels of cortisol in the bloodstream (like those associated with chronic stress) have been shown to have negative effects, such as:

  • Impaired cognitive performance
  • Suppressed thyroid function
  • Blood sugar imbalances such as hyperglycemia
  • Decreased bone density
  • Decrease in muscle tissue
  • High blood pressure
  • Lowered immunity


On a more postive note, Cortisol does have a function besides making you fat and putting you at risk for disease when your body secretes it as planned. Under proper conditions Cortisol will:

  • Metabolize glucose properly
  • Regulate blood pressur
  • Release insulin for blood sugar maintanence
  • Aid immune function
  • Aid in inflammatory response


How to reduce Cortisol levels

If you want to keep your Cortisol levels under control you need to incorporate stress management techniques. Now this does not mean shanking the people that piss you off or flipping them off behind their back. Try taking a more subtle approach to relax the body and mind.

Cortisol secretion varies among individuals. People are biologically ‘wired’ to react differently to stress. One person may secrete higher levels of cortisol than another in the same situation. Studies have also shown that people who secrete higher levels of cortisol in response to stress also tend to eat more food, and food that is higher in carbohydrates than people who secrete less cortisol. If you’re more sensitive to stress, it’s especially important for you to learn stress management techniques and maintain a low-stress lifestyle.







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