Cortisol Levels and Weight Gain are interlinked. The amount of cortisol in your body is driven by the amount of stress you are experiencing. Elevated cortisol can cause cravings for sweet, fatty, and salty foods and this can lead to an increase in visceral fat around your belly and weight gain.
Cortisol is the primary stress hormone, involved in regulation of metabolism in the cells. Cortisol also curbs functions that would be nonessential or harmful in a fight-or-flight situation.
It is a steroid-based hormone and is synthesized from cholesterol and belongs to a group of hormones called glucocorticoids. Cortisol is made in the adrenal cortex of the adrenal gland, which is near the kidney.
Cortisol Levels and Weight Gain
The amount of cortisol in your body is driven by the amount of stress you are experiencing. In addition, caffeine consumption, your eating patterns, how much physical activity you get and your sleep patterns all affect how much cortisol is released in your system. As a general rule, your highest level of cortisol occurs just after you get up in the morning and the lowest level is in the evening as you are falling asleep.
Cortisol Levels: What should be the ideal level?
For most tests, normal ranges are: 5 to 25 micrograms per deciliter (mcg/dL) or 140 to 690 nmol/L. around 6 to 8 a.m and 3 to 10 mcg/dL around 4 p.m.
Cortisol and Stress
Cortisol’s main function is to save us when we are under stress. Chronic stress increases the level of cortisol. High cortisol levels may be associated with increased appetite and weight gain.
Elevated cortisol can cause cravings for sweet, fatty, and salty foods and this can lead to an increase in visceral fat around your belly. Other factors that boost the production of the hormone cortisol are severe recurrent depression and Cushing’s disease.
How to combat weight gain from cortisol?
To control weight gain, you need to keep a check on your cortisol levels. Best way to keep check on your cortisol levels is to avoid stress and do exercise daily, practice mindful eating, ensure sufficient sleep, and practice meditation to help reduce cortisol.
- Learn Stress Management: Balance Your Mind and Body
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- Practice Yoga Nidra Sleep Meditation for Insomnia, Stress
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Low Cortisol Levels
While we have understood how chronically elevated cortisol levels may promote overeating and weight gain. It’s important to be aware of the effects of low cortisol as well. Both high and low cortisol levels can interfere with the proper thyroid function that helps to maintain a healthy metabolism. Fluctuations of cortisol levels can impair the conversion of thyroid hormone from its inactive form to its active form. This can result in a low thyroid situation, causing weight gain and symptoms of poor metabolism.
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