Calories Don’t Control Metabolism, Hormones Do – Use Cortisol (Stress Hormone) To Your Advantage

 In general fitness, Health

Losing fat is often the only goal you have when thinking about fitness diet. There are no fast weight loss tips that will get rid of this fat that’s been stored there for years. It will take a little more than a week of running. Calories restriction is what most people think is the key to losing weight, but guess what? We are more complicated than that. Not happy with that answer? Stick with me.

Your body is constantly pushing itself through a process called LIFE. Meanwhile, some situations we get caught up with can cause us stress and our body reacts in a “fight or flight” reaction. What does that mean? Your body produces the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone which releases the sugar from the cells in order to give you the energy to cope with that stressful situation. The response you’re getting is a high sugar state which if prolonged, your body will have a high level of cortisol which will result in high carb cravings! Your body will need some chocolate and loads of high sugary food which will all transfer into fat since you’re not going to use it in that quantity. This effect is called stress belly fat which is regulated by the hormones and this may be the thing that’s stopping you from losing weight and causing your adrenal gland reaction.

This not only activates your hormones but affects your body in a physical way and that’s why many diseases nowadays are caused by long-term stress reaction. Because the body stops every building action and promotes catabolic processes, your body can’t build muscles due to inability to use amino acids. Your appetite is higher, you can’t build muscles and the cortisol you have in the blood is stopping other hormones from excreting such as a growth hormone which you definitely need for lean muscle mass.

The good news? You can change that. If you control the cortisol level in your blood, you won’t have to worry about insulin levels, increased appetite, headaches, not building muscles, etc. Here are some tips you can include in your fitness regimen to keep that cortisol controlled.

Sleep Tight

Yes, easy as that. You’ve heard about beauty sleep, right? So, you also have to sleep to be fit. Due to a lack of sleep, your body can read it as a signal to get alarmed for some stress coming that needs your attention. Your cortisol levels can double up after a night awake, so you should get a good 8-9 hours of sleep. Going to bed on time will also promote growth hormone and melanin which will help your brain restore its health and detox from all the metabolism waste in the body.

Don’t Drink That Coffee

Coffee or caffeine in an espresso or some diet and caffeinated soda can activate the cortisol levels and strike the levels up high! So, if you want to stay awake, just drink a couple of glasses of water and you will feel more awake than you’ve would have felt with coffee and you will not get that crash after a caffeine stops working. A good herbal tea is another substitute that will do you good. If you know that 200 mg of caffeine can increase cortisol levels by 30% in an hour or less, would you still take your coffee? When you withdrawal from caffeine, the headaches will stop, your teeth will be whiter and you will not be dehydrated. Water is the key.

Serotonin

There is an evidence showing serotonin can help you lose your fat. Since the fat tissue in the belly has the most receptors for the cortisol, this is the place where most stress fat is stored. By taking a serotonin supplement (5 – HTP or 5-hydroxytryptophan), you can counteract the cortisol level and suppress your appetite and feel more calm and happier. If you want to skip the supplements, you can use natural ingredients such as spinach, folate-rich lentils or asparagus or some dark chocolate.

Vitamin B

Your body uses vitamin B to make serotonin, so you can use that to counteract the cortisol levels in your body. You can increase the vitamin B levels in the body by taking some vitamins or going all natural with food rich in vitamin B such as liver (beef), mackerel, sardines, red meat, salmon milk, swiss cheese, yogurt, etc.

Vitamin C

You are not supposed to take vitamin C only when you feel sick. This vitamin is not just good for immune system, but only 1 gram per day can reduce the cortisol level by 20%. The more the better, you can use around 3 grams per day, and all above which your body doesn’t use, you will excrete it through your kidneys.

L-Glutamine

In our article about post-workout recovery, you’ve seen many benefits of L-Glutamine. If you take around 10-15g in your post-workout shake, you will have enough L-Glutamine to stop the stress reaction of the body which is common in overtrained athletes.

Other Ingredients

Ginger is proven to help reduce stress and increase the immune system. Cayenne is another thing you want to incorporate into your daily meal plan as well as chromium. Chromium reduces blood sugar which controls the cortisol and reduces the cholesterol so you have a double effect there. There are many supplements which you can give it a go, but we suggest starting slow and just get enough sleep, drink lots of water and don’t overdo it. Training too much is not the right way to do it. Restriction of calories will just do you no good, so try to be healthy first, and the physical appearance will come naturally when you start treating your body the way you should.

 

Aleksandra C.
Medical student, freelancer, fitness enthusiastic.
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