Let’s talk about Cortisol

stress cartoonCortisol is a hormone and is produced by the adrenal glands and it influences and regulates many of the changes which occur in the body in response to stress. It also soothes the path for some other important hormones to get sorted (testosterone, oestrogen, insulin). So when cortisol production is controlled and steady, then the others can be tickety-boo too.

Cortisol is produced in response to stress and this is vital. In a stressful situation, cortisol is turned into energy for us to be able to deal with the ‘fight or flight’ response. After that the body’s levels of cortisol return to normal. That’s in the days when we were required to hunt, chase and kill our food.

However our modern day culture means our bodies are undergoing a lot of stress all of the time. Work deadlines, lack of sleep, children, traffic, noise, relationships, too much exercise, too much caffeine, too little exercise, too much alcohol… all these things create a drip-drip production of cortisol and the body never gets a chance to return to a calm state. And remember, if cortisol production is out of control, then so are the others. (Testosterone for example plays a part in keeping fat supplies low in both men and women as it plays a role in fat metabolism and in forming our muscles).

So you have lots of extra cortisol which turns into extra fuel… and it’s not used up. What happens then? It’s got to go somewhere. It does – it gets stored as FAT. Around the abdomen. That’s where it sits. In your fat cells on your tummy.

What can you do to address your cortisol production:

To make life easier for your body and give your weightloss efforts the best chance, consider these solutions:

  • Sleep: Get lots and lots of sleep, 8 hours minimum if possible. If you have too little your body is in a state of stress and more cortisol will be produced. To make matters worse, the growth hormone (GH or somatropin to use the technical word) production reduces. And GH is the hormone which helps us to burn fat).
  • Do some physical activity: Obviously if you are on an Annie Deadman weight-loss programme then you will be doing quite a bit. But if you know someone who is stressed but inactive, then pass this on. A walk, a cycle, a few lengths of swimming, anything.
  • Stay calm: Do yoga or meditation, do something that relaxes you. It’s your life. Take control of it.
  • Laugh! Laughter increases the production of serotonin, our happy hormone. Increase social connectivity too. If you spend days working from home and don’t see people, then take steps to amend this as often as you can.
  • Reduce caffeine and alcohol: These increase the production of cortisol. Caffeine also increases your craving for sugar, which is going to make life very hard for you on the BLAST Plan.
  • Processed food and too much sugar: These put an undue amount of stress on your system which result in toxins. Toxins put the body under stress.

It’s all very well for me to lecture you about improving your lifestyle, but if you can make one or all of these changes, then it will make a huge difference to your health and to your weight loss success.

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