Joy Medical Blog - The Role Cortisol Plays In Weight Gain

The Role Cortisol Plays In Weight Gain

We all learned about the “fight or flight” response in high school, but in case you weren’t paying attention in class that day this is the body’s response to danger. The body’s automatic chemical reaction to a threat served to keep our ancient ancestors safe and healthy by triggering the production of cortisol and other hormones, to give the person in need a sudden boost energy for battle or for a quick escape.

While our lifestyle has evolved well beyond having to worry about being attacked or eaten by a predator, our bodies haven’t changed much. As a result of the uninterrupted and continuous levels of stress many people experience in their overextended lives, our adrenal glands are overworked producing cortisol in response to what our body thinks is a threat.

When your cortisol levels are high, it plays havoc with your body’s production of insulin – which is responsible for removing excess glucose (sugar) from your bloodstream. In defense to insulin not stepping in to do its job effectively, your miraculous body then changes gears and turns to storing the excess glucose as fat.

Excessive amounts of cortisol, along with either an over or an underproduction of insulin, not only strains your adrenal glands and pancreas (which produces insulin), it can also cause mood swings, depression and weight gain that is very difficult to lose.

One surprising fact many people don’t know is that training too hard at the gym can also cause excess levels of cortisol. This helps explain why some people who go hard all day at the office, then hit the gym equally hard, find themselves struggling to lose the love handles. If this sounds like you, then you might want to consider breaking up your workouts with low intensity activities, such as yoga, hiking or pilates.

Healthy levels of cortisol and insulin make for a healthy body, but paying extra attention to these two hormones is especially important when you’re trying to drop the pounds. To keep your body healthy, and lower your cortisol levels, the Joy Medical team recommends eating a mediterranean style diet, avoiding processed foods and sugar, limiting caffeine and alcohol, – and taking the time to disconnect through things like meditation, as well as getting an adequate amount of quality sleep.

If you live a deadline driven stress-filled lifestyle, and are trying unsuccessfully to lose weight, we can help! Please contact our office at (818) 464-4870 to schedule a consultation to discuss your goals.