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Don't let cortisol hijack your results

By Matt O'Neill, MSc(Nut&Diet), APD

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Cortisol is an adrenal hormone known as the "stress hormone". It can stand between you & the results you deserve. I explain how cortisol works & what you can do to reduce stress for the breakthrough yiu deserve.

Stress > Cortisol

No matter what the source of stress - emotional, physical, under-eating or over-exercising - one physiological response is for certain. Levels of the hormone cortisol will increase.

Cortisol is designed to help release energy from body stores when stressed.

Cortisol sounds good for fat burning, but it often backfires due to the negative effects, which are sometimes referred to as "adrenal fatigue". And whilst this term is not a medical diagnosis, it does...

Cortisol > Cravings

Cortisol reduces serotonin levels (one of your feel-good brain chemicals) & increases neuropeptide-Y levels (a strong feeding chemical), which in turn triggers food cravings.

Managing stress & reducing cortisol can re-balance your brain chemistry to reduce the cravings that send you off target.

Cortisol > Abdominal fat

You want to budge that last few cms off your belly, but cortisol makes it harder to shift.

And because cortisol is a catabolic hormone, it can also break down your body's muscle stores for fuel, particularly if you are under-eating or are eating a low-carb diet.

How to stress less

I know that it's much easier to say "stress less" than actually do it.

And if you feel stress is affecting you significantly, you should speak to your Doctor & seek assistance.

But we all need a nudge to take simple steps to regain balance in our lives, especially when we have family, work & life demands.

So, here are three useful ways to think about reducing stress

1. Change the stressor

The stressor is the situation or person who is stressing you. You can't always change things, but the effort can be worth it:

  • Discuss your workload with your boss
  • Work on improving relationships
  • Make plans to change the situation
2. Change the stressee

The stressee is you and your reactions to stress. Work on reducing how stressful things affect you:

  • Take a deep breath
  • Don't sweat the small stuff
  • Dispute negative thoughts in your head
3. Take time to escape

If you can't change the stressor or how you react in the short term, make sure you take time out so you don't burn out. Schedule time to relax & recharge:

  • Go for a walk or a workout
  • Have a warm bath
  • Call a friend for an overdue catch-up
  • Go see a movie
  • Take some "me time"
The benefits of balance

Your waistline & metabolic health benefits from better stress management in many ways.

Less cravings!

More muscle!

Easier fat loss!

And of course.. more energy, better sleep, improved mood... you get the picture.



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