We all want one, but how many of us want to put the work in the work to get it? Some people work their butts off and still can’t get a six pac; why is that? What about those who can’t seem to lose those last five to 10 lbs? What’s the problem? Well, I’m not going to say I found the cure-all, but I think I’m pointing you in the right direction. The stress hormone cortisol may be preventing that six pac from appearing and it may be holding on to those extra 5-10lbs. Cortisol is defined as an corticosternoid hormone produced by zona fasciculata of the Adrenal Cortex which is part of the Adrenal Gland. It is also known as the stress hormone, as it is involved in response to stress and anxiety.
Cortisol has negative effects on the body, such as increased blood pressure, increased blood sugar, and reduced immune defenses. Cortisol does have its positives. It reduces inflammation, removes toxins, and retains needed sodium. Cortisol itself isn’t the problem. The problem is high levels of cortisol. High levels of Cortisol cause the previously mentioned problems. Regulating Cortisol levels is a challenge in itself. The root cause of high Cortisol levels is stress.
Stress is a vague, but familiar term. We all deal with some type stress daily. When your body perceives stress (mental or physical) Cortisol is released. Once the Cortisol is released, fat stores are released into your blood stream, as blood sugar. This supplies you with a quick source of energy. Your body recognizes this stress and prepares for fight or flight. Your body now has all this blood sugar to use but there’s no fight or flight. So where does this blood sugar go? Unfortunately it goes straight to your belly. This takes place because the belly has the most Cortisol receptors in the body. These days most of us deal with some type of stress 24/7 (chronic stress) Therefore our bodies are constantly grabbing those fat stores.
Another major cause of Cortisol release is aggressive swings in blood sugar. When your blood sugar rapidly rises your insulin increases, causing your blood sugar to decrease. Your body perceives this as stress and the cycle starts again. We have chronic stress and blood sugar swings as the major Cortisol enhancers. How do we combat the two? The list below provides ways to help regulate your Cortisol levels.
1. Sleep – If your body is tired get some sleep. Sleeping restores your adrenal glands and helps to reduce the Cortisol levels caused by lack of sleep. Studies show nine hours of sleep is best for lower Cortisol.
2. Exercise – Twenty to thirty minutes of exercise a day helps to reduce Cortisol.
3. Meditation – Learn a meditation technique as a means alleviate stress and slow your activity.
4. Eating Right – Processed foods spike your blood sugar, which leads to increased Cortisol levels. Whole foods, fruits and vegetables are the way to go.
5. Taking Vitamin C – Research shows that consuming 1 gram of Vitamin C three times a day may reduce Cortisol levels.