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Is Cortisol making you Fat ?

Ricky Singh 10/03/13


What is Cortisol ? 

Cortisol also know as cortisone and hydrocortisone, is a steroid hormone that is produced by the adrenal glands in a response to stress. Cortisol is often referred to as the stress hormone, its a potent and powerful hormone that affects fat loss within the body.

There are 2 different type of stress mental and emotional stress and physical stress, both have the same stress physiology and the same physical response. In the body cortisol in needed to maintain normal physiological processes during time of stress cortisol is needed as without it we would not be able to respond effectively to stress

Fight or Flight response

Without cortisol in a situation such as a dog or say a lion is chasing you, you would just stand there and do nothing as cortisol is needed for you to run and effective cortisol metabolism would have us primed to run or do battle, I’m personally going to run on this one :)

Its Good & Bad

Cortisol is good but it can also be very damaging if it hangs around for too long as its involved with many catabolic processes (breakdown). Chronically high levels of cortisol are and but chronically low levels are bad too, however a flat cortisol levels are just as bad as having too high or too low cortisol levels. An ideal cortisol rhythm  that is responsive and good would be low at night and low when relaxed, but high during acute stress and high during exercise, and high during a work deadline but recovering baseline levels as quickly as possible.

We don’t want chronically high or chronically low cortisol, we want a cortisol flux the ideal is a highly responsive fine tuned pattern of cortisol activity.

the diagram shown is showing optimal cortisol rhythm where its high in the morning to wake us up and low in the evening so we drop off to sleep.



Researchers have found that with a flat cortisol rhythm the HSD enzyme which is a fat storage enzyme (11 beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrodenase-1) system kicks in and goes into overdrive. HSD acts to activate inactive cortisol so that it becomes active cortisol again. Therefore abdominal fat cells see a high cortisol level and store fat even faster while the rest of the body sees normal levels of cortisol this leaves some of us un-happy with what we think is due do not doing enough sit ups


Being Stressed V Stressed Out

The difference of being stressed and stressed out is that being stressed is an adaptive response meaning that cortisol levels will come back down, but stressed out means that there is an inability to mount a normal stress response (meaning cortisol rhythm stays flat and overall exposure to cortisol over a 24 hours is higher). Its the non adaptive cortisol rhythm that is linked to so many common diseases in the modern life such as – chronic fatigue, fibromyalagia, PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) depression and burnout.

Cortisol and Fat Loss

So when stress is going to hit the body our energy reserves such as fat, protein, and carbohydrates all become rapidly mobilized through catabolic breakdown of tissues to deal with the stressor (so we start to breakdown muscle and other processes in the body)

The Stress response effects the muscle which then acts to decrease muscle mass thus reducing musculature and size of your muscles which means the size and speed of your engine is reduced, so just imagine you are used to driving around a sports car with a 3.6 engine then dropping down to a 1.2 and still trying to do all the tasks and things you did with the 3.6 and at the same speed it easy to know why you burnout now. In the situation levels of adrenalin and cortisol increase, with levels of DHEA and testosterone decrease, with the combined effect of sustained high cortisol and low DHEA/Testosterone lead to muscle loss and fat gains.

The Role of Cortisol in the body ? 

Cortisol has diverse and important functions within the body with its primary function being to increase blood sugar, and regulating aspects of all parts of the bodies metabolism of glucose, protein and fatty acids. Cortisol’s functions become very important when its time to control mood, well-being, immune cells and inflammation, blood cells, and blood pressure. You can now start to gather how important it is to manage cortisol and how very high levels of stress with no management  can be a very severe.

Cortisol also acts in the body to stimulate many metabolic processes that collectively serve in the body increase glucose in the blood. The effects include gluconeogenesis which is when amino acids are converted to glucose this is how we survive on a high protein low card diet, are body knows that metabolic pathway of how to convert proteins to carbohydrates for energy. A very important role of Cortisol in fat loss is that it inhibits (blocks) the glucose uptake in muscle and adipose tissue (fat) which means we further increase our blood sugar levels.

How to help manage Cortisol

First we need to know if cortisol is one of your priorities in you biosignature assessment, which will be calculated in your biosignature report from the reading of your umbilical, but some steps to help deal with Cortisol.

  •  Use a High Strength Fish Oil (Eskimo 3 or Poliquin Omega 3 6:1)

 its very important you se the stated brands as they have been used in the clinical trails, some supplements we can pick up from the supermarkets are very cheap and contain cheap strands of vital ingredients. 

Why use a Fish Oil? 

  • Fish oil has shown to help all know diseases from hyperlipideamia, Coronary HeartDisease, cardiac arrhythmias, hypertension, stroke
  • Studies have shown that using a fish oil significantly reduces Cortisol
  • Blunts the release when exposure to cortisol
  • Reduces inflammation as with inflammation you have increased cortisol production
  • Fish oil will also boost your brain function

Other Strategies include

  • Water drink 0.37ml per kg of body weight slight dehydration can act as a stressor to the body
  • Alkalise your body high levels of stress make the body a very acidic environment, by adding lime to your water you increase the ph to becoming more alkaline which reduces the acidity in the body
  • Probiotics adding a strong probiotic such as Poliquin Pro Flora or Nutri Probioplex ND capsules helps protect your gut as its responsible for Neurotransmitter production
  • Meditation 20 minutes meditation has shown to give the same effect as 2 hours extra sleep and also it helps reduce blood pressure and cortisol levels.
  • Grateful Log at the end of each day fill out a log of all the grateful things in life you have and not things you wish you did have, happy people appreciate more from life and the more you appreciate the more you get from life

Hope you have enjoyed reading this blog and if you would like a consultation or a biosignature assessment or to buy any supplements please don’t hesitate to get in touch or if you would like some more information just ask


Thank You for reading

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