Hormonal imbalance- Excess Cortisol
Ok so last time the topic was excess insulin and how this affects you and your fat storage. This week I am taking about how the hormone cortisol affects your body.
When I first meet clients I have an initial consultation with them where I get them to fill in a lifestyle questionnaire. Some of the questions relate to stress and 90% of people state they feel they are under stress, and typically work related.
Many people associate being under stress with losing weight. For example many brides to be say one of the reason they have lost weight is the stress of the wedding, where actually it’s because they have been dieting like crazy at the thought of being in a dress in front of everyone!
During periods of stress three main hormones are released, the two most common are Adrenaline and Cortisol. Adrenaline draws on your fat stores for energy (which is great), whereas cortisol draws on our muscle tissue for energy (not so good as we need muscle to keep our metabolism high). The third hormone is NYP. NYP decreases your metabolic rate, increases your belly fat and increases your appetite for sugary and carb rich food (comfort food).
To find out if you suffer from excess cortisol, see how many of the below apply to you. If you find yourself ticking 8 or more it looks like this is you.
· Hair loss
· Feeling wired at night
· Loss of muscle tone in arms and legs
· Cold hands and feet
· Water retention in face/ puffiness
· Poor memory/ concentration
· Loss of libido
· High alcohol consumption
· Frequent colds/ flu
· Fat gain around love handles or abdomen
· Excess fat on back of neck and upper back
· Cravings for sweets/ carbs/ constant hunger
· Difficulty getting to sleep/ staying asleep
· Irritable bowel/ frequent gas and bloating
· Infertility/ irregular menstruation cycles
If you have high levels of cortisol, what can you do about it? Well first of all you need to understand what is making you stressed. For most people it is work and I am not in a position to advise you to change your job! The next thing to look at is your sleeping pattern. It is advised that you get 7.5-8 hrs sleep a night and speaking to most of you this is not the case. Sleeping more really can help you lose weight and here how:
· Sleeping enough or not enough effects the release of appetite releasing hormones, Ghrelin (appetite enhancing) and leptin (appetite curbing). Not getting your 7-8 hours, reduces Leptin release and increases ghrelin, therefore leaving you feeling constantly hungry.
· Not only do you find yourself hungrier, but we also tend to crave high sugar, high calorie, carb heavy foods. Many studies have been done to look at patients doing the same amount of exercise and following the same diet, but one group has only 5 hours sleep a night and the second group has 7-8 hours. The sleep deprived group always come out with a higher body fat percentage.
Give it a go, see if you can sleep yourself thin.