Cortisol is a hormone that is produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress. It plays an important role in the body’s response to stress, but when cortisol levels are too high for too long, it can have negative effects on the body, including adrenal fatigue. Personal Trainer San Diego Iron Orr Fitness will explore both the signs of high cortisol levels and ways to heal.
Here are some indications or symptoms that you may have high cortisol levels:
1. Weight gain: High cortisol levels can lead to weight gain, particularly in the abdominal area. This is because cortisol increases appetite and promotes the storage of fat in the abdominal area. You may also see that you don’t have much of an appetite in the morning due to not getting restful sleep and your circadian rhythm is out of sync. The weight gain is also around the midsection.
2. Insomnia: High cortisol levels can interfere with sleep, making it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. This is seen in people having difficulty falling and staying asleep and getting up between 2am-4am and then, struggling to sleep only to fall into a deep sleep around the time they need to wake for work. Obviously, the ability to focus and intensity of production is decreased significantly. This is what they mean but “Tired but Wired”, tired in the am, but wired at bedtime and unable to fall asleep easily. Fatigue haunts you throughout the day and then a bolt of energy at night when you know you should be sleeping.
3. Anxiety and depression: High cortisol levels can lead to anxiety and depression. This is because cortisol can interfere with the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is important for mood regulation. Brain fog is another symptom related to lower serotonin levels.
4. High blood pressure: High cortisol levels can lead to high blood pressure, which can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.
5. Digestive issues: High cortisol levels can lead to digestive issues such as bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. This is illustrated in a poor immune system with being easily sick. Your body’s inability to digest and synthesize nutrients from food to fortify your immune system. This is a big reason people report intense food cravings. The body is searching for nutrients it is unable to absorb with the high cortisol levels.
6. Muscle weakness: High cortisol levels can lead to muscle weakness and loss of muscle mass.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider. They can perform tests to determine if you have high cortisol levels and recommend treatment options.
Here are actions you can do to help decrease your cortisol levels and lose some fat!
1. Consume Fish oil: A study in 2000 showed that taking 4,000mg lowered cortisol and lean mass over a 6-week period
2. Decrease your alcohol consumption: alcohol increases cortisol in a 24-hour period, decreases metabolism and increases your glucose levels and insulin resistance risk.
3. Eat Dark Chocolate: studies show that consuming 40g of 70% cacao lowers cortisol traces in urine.
4. Walk, don’t Run: HIIT, heavy weightlifting and high impact movements increase inflammation in the body and increase your cortisol response. If your levels are already high, adding more inflammation in hopes of losing weight defeats your purpose of fat loss. Exercise can help to decrease cortisol levels and promote weight loss. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week. Body weight resistance training with 1 min rest in between sets is solid. Reaching out to a professional Personal Trainer San Diego can guide you in the right direction
5. Stop Eating Refined Carbs: (pastries, rice, white bread, white pastas, etc.) One of the most significant effects of cortisol on the body is its ability to increase blood sugar levels. When cortisol levels are high, it can cause the liver to release glucose into the bloodstream, which can lead to insulin resistance and weight gain. This is because insulin is the hormone that regulates blood sugar levels, and when cortisol levels are high, it can interfere with insulin’s ability to do its job. Consuming foods with high glucose into the system as insult to injury and increases fat gain especially in the mid-section. Eating a healthy diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can help to decrease cortisol levels and promote weight loss.
6. Meditate: One of the most effective ways to heal from cortisol imbalance and adrenal fatigue is to manage stress. This can include practicing relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga.
7. Get enough sleep: Lack of sleep can increase cortisol levels, so it’s important to get enough sleep each night. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night.
8. Consider supplements: There are a variety of supplements that can help to support adrenal function and decrease cortisol levels, including Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, B Complex, Vitamin C, Fish Oil and Magnesium.
In conclusion, cortisol imbalance and adrenal fatigue can have negative effects on the body, including weight gain and difficulty managing stress. By managing stress, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet, and considering supplements, you can heal from cortisol imbalance and adrenal fatigue. If you’re having difficulty navigating weight loss during this tough phase of life then, reach out to a personal trainer to help guide you to the most direct path to your goals.