Stress - How It Affects Your Cortisol Levels, And Why It Could Be Making You Gain Weight

Updated: Mar 27

Stress never did good to anyone. Be it your physical or your mental health - stress can be detrimental for you, and will have long-term consequences that are hard to reverse.

The 'stress hormone' - aka Cortisol plays an important role in your body’s stress response. In this article, we break down how stress can impact your physical health in a variety of ways - and what you can do to lower your Cortisol levels:

What Exactly Does Cortisol Do?

Cortisol plays an integral role in your metabolic rate. It helps the body convert carbs, fats and proteins into usable energy. It also stimulates the liver to increase the production of blood sugar. As part of the body’s fight-or-flight response, this hormone is released during stressful times to provide your body with a natural energy boost.

Cortisol also helps regulate blood pressure, controls the balance of salt and water in the body, and fights inflammation.

Stress Levels: How Do They Affect You?

People who are chronically stressed end up having a higher level of cortisol than their body requires. But what happens when your cortisol levels get too high?

Well, changes in your body chemistry will immediately begin to unfold. Elevated cortisol has been identified as the reason behind what we have come to describe as metabolic syndrome - which involves everything from insulin resistance and high blood pressure to elevated cholesterol. Type 2 diabetes is a likely consequence of these unfortunate symptoms.

Your Metabolism

When present in surplus in your body - cortisol ends up slowing down your metabolic rate significantly. A slower metabolism will lead you to burn body fat much slower than you should, as cortisol is designed to make sure that you survive a perceived period of famine.

Insulin Resistance

Cortisol breaks proteins down into their building blocks, known as amino acids. Your muscles are made from proteins, and cortisol signals them to break down, as the body’s perception is that fuel is needed.

When you're too stressed, and your cortisol levels are consequently high - this increase in blood glucose will not be utilised. Your body will have to secrete insulin in order to return blood glucose levels to normal.

Put simply, too much cortisol can make you fat through dysregulated blood-sugar metabolism. Which brings us to our next point:

Abdominal Fat

Cortisol has a very specific fat deposition pattern. It's typically stored around your abdomen, which is the fat placement area governed by your body’s quest for survival. Therefore, people under chronic stress end up storing excess, stubborn fat around their tummies.

When elevated cortisol courses through your body, it’s also very easy to end up overeating because your body thinks you're running low on food every time you see it!

How To Deal With Having Too Much Cortisol?

When cortisol tells every cell in your body to store fat - it's extremely tough, if not impossible, to decrease body fat until the cortisol excess has resolved.

It's important that you get to the heart of where your stress stems from. Change the situation, or change your perception of the situation!

  • Try starting your day with a morning yoga flow

  • Try out mindfulness

  • Learn how to complete the stress cycle

  • Read up on some effective ways to de-stress

#stress #stressfree #cortisol #healthy

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xo Laura Niesslein


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