We oft associate stress with such grave diseases as cancer, heart attack or myocardial infarction (MI), sterility, and hypertension (high blood pressure). Such associations shouldn’t be blamed on dramatic flair, factually, this series could go on forever.
Realistically, stress increases the production of certain hormones, which hamper the process of fat burning. The dominant hormone released in this state is cortisol.
It would be naïve to believe that a lack of stress will save us every health scare—we must comprehend that experiencing stress is a natural reaction of the body to external and internal stimuli. It’s simply unrealistic to rid ourselves of stress completely. However, we can avoid some “stress traps” which may lead to mega gains in weight.
Stress Traps that Increase Cortisol Hormone Levels
Try to dodge the following stress traps:
- Stress Trap #1: binge eating
- Stress Trap #2: indulging in lots of sweets, bread, refined flour products, pasta, and potatoes, or associating foods with rewards for difficult days
- Stress Trap #3: thriving on a nutritional imbalance or eating only low fat and low carb foods—this causes a hormone imbalance, especially in ovarian and thyroid hormones
- Stress Trap #4: self-medicating with OTC hormonal agents for stress management—most of these meds enhance food cravings
- Stress Trap #5: physical inactivity, lethargy
- Stress Trap #6: drinking herbal tea for insomnia, diuretic flushes, et cetera—some herbs may inhibit thyroid function
- Stress Trap #7: unhealthy habits (excessive drinking, taking drugs, and smoking)—these hinder the efficiency of metabolism boosters such as testosterone, estradiol, T3 and T4
Cortisol Weight Gain or Cortisol Weight Loss: What’s the Truth?
Some medical professionals, scientists, and researchers believe contrasting notions. The existing counterarguments have led to inconclusive findings. First, they say that most physical activities including working out in the gym, traveling, and aggression sessions promote the high production of cortisol. But who said that it’s detrimental to our health?
The irony is that cortisol alone doesn’t promote weight gain, but it’s also the strongest releasing hormone that promotes lipolysis (it splits fats into fatty acids that are used by the mitochondria for energy production) and oxidation (the intricate process of transforming fatty acids into energy). A high rise in cortisol helps lose fat, and this is an integral part of an intensive training regimen.
Another interesting concept concerning cortisol weight loss function—during the process of lipolysis throughout the whole body, cortisol bypasses the fat depot of the stomach. This partly explains why those with chronically elevated cortisol levels are obese precisely in this area, carrying around a spare tire.
As with most hormones, problems begin when cortisol levels remain high for extended periods. High levels of the cortisol hormone lead to insulin resistance. An excess of insulin in the blood initiates easy weight gain. This also causes muscle degradation, metabolic slowdown, insufficient levels of testosterone in women and men, and various other health concerns.
Everybody knows that people put on weight when consuming more caloric energy than they expend. Lacking cortisol will not make someone fat until they spend more calories. The only problem is that when the metabolism slows down, usual portions become redundant, but a person doesn’t notice it, which leads to seemingly insignificant at first, but dramatic increases in excess weight.
The scientific community has established that an excessive amount of incoming calories leads to obesity, regardless of the effects of cortisol on the body.
Cortisol Function During the Day
Cortisol belongs to the group of glucocorticoids produced by the suprarenal capsule. Like any other hormone in our body, cortisol has its own functions. Its key task is to transport the energy and protein stored in the fat deposits to the tissues that need it when the body is under stress. Thus, Cortisol function involves preparing our bodies for the stress impact, regulating metabolic activities, and being responsible for weight gain or weight loss.
Cortisol has a definite diurnal rhythm of secretion:
- 4:00 to 5:00 AM: cortisol levels start increasing
- 8:00 to 9:00 AM: cortisol level peaks in its highest position
- Midday: cortisol gradually decreases
- Evening until 4:00 AM: the trough of cortisol levels
When we are stressed, the normal daytime rhythm can be knocked down, leading to a cortisol imbalance. For example, the lowest level can occur in the morning, during the day it rises, and the peak can occur in the afternoon or evening. Often this is observed in middle-aged women who notice that they wake up tired, feel alright during the day, but can’t fall asleep at night.
If the Cortisol level is too high during the day, there is a risk of:
- Rising blood pressure
- Increasing cholesterol and triglycerides
- Glucose escape
- Elevated insulin levels
All these lead to the degeneration of physiologic processes that cause the following health problems:
- Weakening of immune system functionality
- Skin dryness
- Decreased libido
- Increased vascular tone
- Muscle enervation
- Degradation of bone tissue
The difficulty is that not all specialists can determine the cause of these problems, leading to the treatment of symptoms, rather than the disease itself, resulting in a poorly treatable condition of the patient.
Thus, when prescribing Nandrolone to a patient, the doctor strives to cope with muscular degradation. However, he achieves only short-term improvements, and the saved high level of cortisol doesn’t allow ridding of muscle weakness altogether.
Different types of anabolic steroids do a better job. Their main action involves improving testosterone levels in the blood, which homogenizes cortisol hormone imbalances thus increasing metabolic processes, libido, and the muscle tissue condition. Additionally, such steroids as Sustaretard, Nebido, and Testoviron 250 boost weight loss and have a positive effect on the health of joints and ligaments.
Cortisol and Weight Gain: Where is the Connection?
High levels of cortisol another consequence which is both unpleasant and appalling for the ladies. The excess level of this hormone makes most women gain weight. It’s manifested in a prominent fat deposition on:
- The waist
- The chest and breasts
- The upper back
- Upper arms
- Facial swelling
Of course, such changes in appearance bring unhappiness and even more stress. Excessive cortisol function is a defensive reaction of the organism which prevents brain and heart damage and renal injury. The problem with cortisol and weight gain is very real but needs a comprehensive approach.
First Signs of Excessive Effects of Cortisol on the Body
Can you diagnose high cortisol levels at home? Most medical professionals may list some signs of a hormonal imbalance that should alert any woman before gaining too much weight.
- Insatiable cravings for a definite specific food product, usually sweets and greasy, fatty foods
- Constant hunger pangs
- Mood changes, highs, and lows—she feels qualmish and nervous, especially before menstruating
- A quickened heartbeat, again before the menstruating
Unfortunately, most doctors and patients themselves consider that this indisposition is caused solely by stress and nothing more. Here, they recommend patients to take some anti-stress drugs.
If this state is induced by low estradiol and low testosterone, all anti-stress medications will be absolutely useless and patients will continue putting on weight.