What is Cortisol and how does it affect your body?
By Brenda O’HaraWith over 10 years of experience in the fitness industry, I have seen a lot of people make huge lifestyle changes. Diets go from poor to great over time, and fitness becomes part of their daily routine. Every once in a while, a person may not see the fat loss that they should be based on those things. Let’s take a look a little deeper into one factor that may cause this. Cortisol is a steroid hormone in the body that regulates a variety of things including metabolism, inflammation, and immune response. This is also known as the “stress hormone.” Levels tend to be higher when you are tired, anxious, or facing any sort of physical or mental stress. This includes times such as in the morning when you’re waking up and during your workouts. Therefore, if you are constantly tired, anxious, physically, mentally, or emotionally stressed, there’s a chance your cortisol levels might be elevated. High cortisol levels can cause a number of problems including trouble sleeping, weight gain, forgetfulness, depression, and even muscle loss. So, what lifestyle changes can you make if you’re noticing any of these symptoms, or to simply keep your cortisol levels in check?
- Make good sleep habits. Living on just a few hours of sleep per night isn’t going to cut it. Aim for a solid 6-8 hour. This might be setting a reminder on your phone to get in bed by a certain time. If that’s what it takes, then do it.
- Do something daily that makes you feel relaxed. This could be Yoga, reading a book, or going for a walk.
- Make sure you’re getting a well-balanced diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats.
- Drink lots of water and keep alcohol consumption to a minimum.