Slow metabolism and cortisol are two of the biggest factors contributing to a slowing down in weight loss. Knowing how to lower cortisol is extremely important if your goal is to shred fat.
What Is Cortisol?
Cortisol, the stress hormone, is produced in the adrenal glands. It is also known as the fight-or-flight hormone as it controls the environment your body is placed in. Here is how it works to preserve human life:
Cortisol is needed in almost every aspect of your life, from stress management to regulating how your body copes with food. If you don't see any fat loss results and are on track with your diet and training, high cortisol levels might be the cause.
The Effects of High Cortisol
High amounts of cortisol in your system can have a negative impact on your weight loss. As cortisol shuts down functions it deems unnecessary in stressful situations, the first to go is your metabolism. This impacts how you digest carbs and store fats. No wonder it has such an impact on your weight.
Chronic stress leads to a state of permanently high cortisol levels. This stressed state can have a drastic impact on your life. High cortisol levels lead to several physical changes:
If it is natural, why is it bad?
Too much of a good thing is not always good. Cortisol might play a vital role in regulating your body and how it responds to stress; when you are in a chronic state of stress, it throws all your summer body goals by the wayside. To reach those goals, you will need to reduce cortisol levels in a healthy, manageable way without placing too much stress on your body.
Understanding that life and health need to be balanced is the key to burning fat for good. Here are the top five ways to lower cortisol levels.
#1 Don't overdo it in the gym
Short and intense is the way to go. Overdoing it in the gym can cause cortisol to rise in response to physical stressors. Running marathons and training for hours on end is not going to help you reach that desirable summer body. Maximizing your gains is easy and attainable if you simplify your training.
The balloon method allows me to keep my workouts short and intense and see fast results!
- Troy Adashun
Recovery is essential; as cortisol levels play a role in maintaining your inflammation, your recovery days are crucial. Make sure you have at least one full day's rest a week. Give your body time to cope and recover properly. Don't overdo the cardio if you are in recovery from weight training.
#2 Try not to overdo alcohol and marijuana
Central nervous system depressants like marijuana and alcohol might be a way for you to kick back and de-stress. However, they have the opposite effect on your cortisol levels; instead of maintaining an even level, they shoot straight up. A few rounds at the bar might lower your chances of getting that body you are looking for.
Marijuana directly after a workout increases circulatory cortisol; this triggers your body into fat storage mode. Muscle protein synthesis is also another factor to consider, as smoking after a workout can trigger it. Meaning all that time in the gym was in vain. The same goes for drinking in excess after a day of working out.
That doesn't mean you cannot indulge. You absolutely can enjoy yourself; just make sure you do so in moderation and not close to your workouts.
#3 Beating cortisol with your diet
Carbs are friends, diet is king. There is evidence that states that your diet is just as important as your training in every aspect. From gains to shredding what you eat, your diet is the cornerstone of internal health. When you get the proper nutrients, your body responds appropriately and functions better.
High carb foods are actually great post workout to lower cortisol levels. My go to is sushi.
- Troy Adashun
The base of every healthy diet is full of clean and fresh food. Foods like whole fruit, vegetables, lean meat, eggs, potatoes, legumes, and oats are all needed to get the best out of your health and reduce your cortisol levels.
Fruit and veg
These fruits and veg are all excellent at helping reduce the levels of cortisol in your system. Be sure to include them in your diet.
Healthy, quality lean meats are essential sources of protein.
Grains and legumes
Complex carbs are an excellent choice for a post-workout meal that can help lower cortisol levels.
Dehydration is a cortisol fiend - couple it with intense exercise, and you have a recipe for disaster. Your cortisol levels will skyrocket. Here are a few excellent beverages to include.
There are a few things to avoid or exclude from your diet if you want to keep it clean and get your cortisol levels under control. These foods act as a stimulant for cortisol levels. They slow your metabolism down or contribute to inflammation. Overall limit or avoid these in your diet.
A note on chocolate: Dark chocolate is an excellent cortisol reducer. A block or two is ideal even on the strictest of diets. Yes, chocolate can help reduce stress. Stick to 70% cocoa or more, with no added sugar
#4 Mind over matter
Your mind has complete control over your bodily functions. Your mental health and state of mind is the number one factor in elevated cortisol. Health and wellness come from healing the mind and the body. Stressful lifestyle changes such as moving, new children, and intense work spaces all impact your cortisol levels.
Keep these in mind if you are stressed:
#5 Supplements for better health
There are a few supplements you can take that can help you lower cortisol or keep cortisol levels balanced. Adaptogens are well known in the supplement world as natural solutions to help your body cope with stress.
I take Superhuman Armor because its loaded with Vitamin C, and also loaded with testosterone boosting zinc and a blend of innovative ingredients that boost your immune system and help your body defend itself from stress easier.
- Troy Adashun
Remember that supplements will not lower stress levels; they help support your body and help your body cope better in a stressful situation. Quality over quantity is essential. A supplement does not remove your need for a healthy balanced diet. It is only there to enhance your health and give it a helping hand.
Reasons for high cortisol
Now that you know how to reduce it, is important to understand why you might have too much cortisol. There are several factors that you should consider.
If your life is in balance and none of the above reasons strike you as a reason why your cortisol levels might be high, check in with a doctor. There are a few medical reasons as to why your cortisol might be elevated. A 4 point cortisol test can pinpoint the amount of cortisol you are producing throughout the day. Tumors on the pituitary gland or the adrenal gland can cause a steep rise in cortisol.
Change starts one step at a time
Cortisol is not the end of the world for athletes, but it might be one of the most overlooked factors when it comes to weight loss and getting in shape. The hormone is a testament that your mind and body are intrinsically related.
The science is clear; stress is not healthy for anyone on a physical level. Your beach body is attainable; think of it as a challenge to get both your state of mind and body to the best fighting form. Your body is a machine, and you can fine-tune it to perfection.
What are you waiting for? Go get your heart rate pumping, let off some steam to lower stress and cortisol, and don't forget to have a little fun!