Is Cortisol the Culprit?
Is Cortisol The Culprit?
Cortisol, Tummy Fat And 12 Ways To Reduce It!
By Penny Lomas
Cortisol, along with norepinephrine and epinephrine (also known as adrenalin) are our fight or flight response hormones and are produced by our adrenal glands. Each of these stress hormones is released in different ratios depending on the stress you are faced with. The hormone cortisol can present itself in many ways. Most people think that cortisol is simply a result of being stressed or feeling stressed emotionally, but there are many more in-depth causes to stress. When our cortisol is high it can cause body fat to accumulate around your mid-section, especially your umbilical area.
Things that can disrupt cortisol levels are anger, conflict, aggression, diabetes, dieting, excessive caffeine and sugar, lack of sleep and skipping breakfast just to name a few. Foods that raise cortisol are alcohol, caffeine, gluten, liquorice and excessive sodium. Foods that help reduce cortisol are high fibre foods, whey protein, vitamin C and phosphatidylserine, which is a natural chemical found in mackerel, herring, chicken, beans, pork, leafy greens and beef. Cortisol is probably the hardest hormone to control because, well, it’s out of our control. I suggest along with picking cortisol-friendly foods, address where in your life elevated cortisol may be coming from. Eliminate stressful situations, relationships and habits.
CORTISOL AND DIGESTION
You may not think that cortisol impacts our food and digestion, but it does. When you are stressed, whether it’s a lion in the room or a deadline at work (same thing to your adrenals), your body stops producing insulin so you have plenty of glucose so you’re ready to fight, and relaxes the muscles of the stomach. Your body is smart; it would rather conserve energy to save your life, from your deadline, than digest food.
To manage stress and decrease the body’s output of the hormone cortisol, follow my top 12 ways to reduce physical stress and ultimately trim down your tummy.
1. STOP DOING CARDIO ON MACHINES
Cardio equipment such as the stepper, cross trainer, bike and treadmill give off ‘dirty’ electricity and cause cortisol to rise in your system. Instead, get outdoors and enjoy your workout in the fresh air.
2. AVOID FOOD ALLERGENS
When you eat something that your body has an intolerance to it causes cortisol to rise. Avoid your known allergies and steer clear of common foods that cause intolerances, such as over-consumption of eggs, artificial flavours and additives, artificial sweeteners, dairy, wheat, gluten and soy.
3. AVOID FOODS THAT ARE UNHEALTHY
This means processed and packaged foods, foods high in trans fats and sugar.
4. ENSURE YOU ARE GETTING ENOUGH FIBRE
Aim for at least 25g of fibre a day. Low fibre leads to poorer insulin health and an increase in tummy fat.
5. ELIMINATE RELATIONSHIP STRESS
This is a given if you are in an unhappy relationship or experiencing emotional stress of some description. It can affect your health, and ultimately your cortisol levels.
6. FIX YOUR GUT FLORA
If your gastrointestinal health is compromised it can lead to belly fat gain and elevated cortisol.
7. LIMIT FRUCTOSE IN YOUR DIET TO FRUIT SOURCES ONLY
Avoid all fructose corn syrup.
8. TAKE MAGNESIUM
Magnesium helps to decrease cortisol and calm the body. Optimum times to take magnesium are post workout and before bed.
9. ELIMINATE WORK STRESS
This isn’t as simple as it seems, as we sometimes cannot control the work environment we spend so much time in. I would suggest re-evaluating your working relationships, time management and procedures to ensure your working day runs as smoothly as possible.
10. DRINK MORE WATER
A major cause of elevated cortisol can be dehydration. To ensure you are hitting your required water intake target use a notepad to tally up your water consumption. Your water requirements are dependent on your level of activity and body weight.
11. COMMIT YOURSELF TO ACHIEVING EXCELLENCE
Change your mindset to that of a positive, can-do attitude.
Engage in activities that you find relaxing and calming such a massages, saunas, walks with girlfriends, reading a book, yoga, Pilates and stretching.
Penny Lomas is a personal trainer and registered level 2 BioSignature Modulation practitioner based in Melbourne, specialising in hormone coaching, strength and conditioning, holistic lifestyle coaching and body transformation. Penny is an Australian health and fitness writer with extensive years spent in the fitness industry. Penny is a published fitness model, athlete, TV presenter on Living Lean TV, and Ecostore Australia ambassador. Penny is also a three times Oxygen magazine cover girl and proud ambassador. Penny is currently studying her PICP levels 1 and 2 and also Performing Circus Arts and Tumbling. Find out more about Penny at pennylomas.com.au and about Nourish Melbourne's partnership with Penny, here.