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Hormones and Your Weight: Cortisol

Updated: Oct 3, 2020

People like to assume that losing weight can be as easy as eat less and exercise more, but this isn’t true for everyone. Why is that? Well there are these wacky essential things called hormones—five, in fact—that play a huge role in weight loss, especially in women. This can also help to explain why men may have it easier when it comes to shedding excess pounds.

The female body is extremely complex. We constantly have hormones going up and down and when we aren’t eating right, are stressed and are trying to lose weight the wrong ways, some of these hormones can get more out of whack.

I recently came across an article in the Women’s Health magazine about five hormones that can affect a woman’s weight, energy and many other health issues. I found this to be very interesting so I did some more research on each of the hormones.

Over the next few weeks I’ll publish a series of blog posts about these hormones. I hope you find this as interesting as I do and try some of the suggestions in my posts to get your hormones under control and get to a happier healthier you.

Hormone #1

CORTISOL:  Stress Hormone

I have briefly touched on cortisol before in my blog The Pitfalls of Dieting, I wrote about why a person should stop dieting. Cortisol is the hormone caused by stress. This stress can range from getting scared for a brief second because you saw a spider, to working too many hours and not getting enough sleep.

When cortisol increases, your body tries to hoard fat in order to survive because of the stress associated with the threat. When this happens it also causes your insulin to increase, which causes blood sugar to drop, and when blood sugar drops you get hungry. This is not just a regular hungry, it is a ravenous I need to eat kind of hungry and the foods you usually crave are sugary and fatty.

With your body already hoarding fat, adding these foods into the mix will only make things worse. If you are constantly stressed, the body will only hoard more and more fat. This fat does not stay where it is either, the body begins to take fat from your butt and hips and moves it to the stomach where the cortisol receptors are. Constant stress can lead to weight gain, especially in the abdomen. All of these factors make it extremely hard to even lose half a pound.

So, what can you do to combat cortisol? One change is pretty obvious. Really think about ways to lower the stress in your life. Incorporating exercise, yoga and meditation are great ways to lower stress in your life. On top of lowering your stress, getting enough sleep can also make a huge impact on lowering cortisol.

Two other things you can do that don’t seem as obvious are limiting or even eliminating caffeine from your diet. I know I know this is the last thing I wanted to hear too, but even small amounts of caffeine can spike cortisol levels. The last cortisol combatant is laughter. Laughing, and even just thought of laughing at something can lower cortisol.

I think this is a hormone everyone can relate to, whether male or female. So think about it. How do you react to stress? How often do you laugh? Make some life adjustments and tell some good jokes. It can make a difference in your weight loss.

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