A lot of times people come into my office and they seem to be doing everything they can to lose weight. They eat a healthy diet, have a calorie deficit, drink little alcohol, and follow a training session adapted to their needs several times a week. However, they are missing one or more elements in their formula because they are unable to meet their weight loss goal.
Today, I’m going to talk to you about the stress hormone, cortisol. How Does It Affect Weight Loss?
What is cortisol?
It is made from cholesterol and is secreted by your adrenal glands. It plays an essential role in the balance of blood glucose and the release of sugar from the body’s reserves in response to increased demand for energy. Cortisol therefore mobilizes glucose from the liver and muscles to maintain normal blood sugar levels essential for the brain. It mainly plays 3 roles in your body.
* increases your blood sugar so you can run when there is stress
* increases your blood pressure so that you have enough blood to get to large muscles like your legs (eg if you have to run away from a tiger)
* modulates the immune system
Is Cortisol Evil Embodied?
Cortisol is not the bad guy as we often hear it said. On the contrary, it is necessary, among other things, for its anti-inflammatory action, to participate in the metabolism of fats and proteins and in the regulation of sleep. However, chronic stress, whether it is physical, emotional or psychological stress, has negative consequences on health since high levels of cortisol over a certain period of time lead to, among other things, insulin resistance and tissue deterioration (atrophy). muscle, thinning or inflammation of the skin, bone loss), premature aging, chronic disease (diabetes, heart disease) and immunosuppression. This disturbance causes sleep disturbances, fatigue, depression, anxiety and especially abdominal weight gain.
When your stress and cortisol levels are high, the body somehow prepares for fight or flight. Thus, it goes into survival mode by resisting weight loss, retaining the most fat and increasing appetite for foods high in fat and carbohydrates. In addition, cortisol tends to store fat in the belly since it is where there are more cortisol receptors in the body. We quickly find ourselves in a vicious circle since abdominal fat increases the level of inflammation as well as insulin resistance, both of which contribute to this storage of fat in the abdominal belt.
Do you know that feeling of being exhausted all the time, fueling up on coffee all day, and craving carbohydrates? Your body is warning you that it’s time to slow down and get some rest, both physically and mentally.
Over time, cortisol levels drop too low due to adrenal exhaustion, leading to symptoms of morning fatigue, muscle or joint pain, dizziness, headaches, chilliness, mood swings, decreased stamina, slow heartbeat, fever. sugar and / or salt, increased allergies, hypersensitivity to chemicals and leads to an underactive thyroid (our basic metabolism).
Our body is very complex, everything is interrelated and interdependent. Hormones work together, they dance together (thyroid hormones, estrogen, progesterone, cortisol, insulin, testosterone, leptin, ghrelin…). When a hormone is out of balance, it can reduce, block or completely derail the production of other hormones.
Ex: High cortisol blocks the function of other hormones such as thyroid hormones and progesterone. The thyroid plays a role in basal metabolism, for example by promoting growth and stimulating the consumption of fats and sugars. Thus, a thyroid that works in slow motion causes weight gain. As for progesterone, it is the anti-bloating hormone that also soothes women in terms of mood and prevents the famous PMS.
So if there is one thing you need to remember it is that the winning (not magic) formula for healthy, sustainable weight loss is not just having a calorie deficit but also good habits. of life, that is, eating a healthy diet, getting quality sleep and exercising. It is not enough to just work on weight loss since hormonal balance is the basis of optimal health. Thus, cortisol and insulin must be regulated so that the body can shed extra pounds. Last but not the least, your state of mind can make all the difference in reaching your goals because weight loss is a journey and requires patience and consistency.