This Article is About
mastery series
carbohydrate metabolism
cortisol levels
adrenal glands
stress hormone
bad rap
stress management
problem areas
nutrients
Hormone Mastery Series: Cortisol
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Hormone Mastery Series: Cortisol

Here it is, that dreaded cortisol hormone. Stress, belly fat, aging, and feeling sluggish can all be attributed to (but of course not limited to) the stress hormone known as cortisol. Cortisol has gotten kind of a bad rap in recent years and is widely misunderstood. However, what is pretty well understood by most health conscious people is that elevated levels of cortisol brought on by any kind of stress causes the formation of belly fat, which we all want to avoid.

Cortisol is a hormone that is responsible for a number of functions, including fat, protein, and carbohydrate metabolism. It is released from the adrenal glands in response to stress. So you might be wondering: if cortisol helps metabolize food, how can it cause us to accumulate belly fat?

The answer, as always, lies in balance. Too much stress, or too much food, or too much cortisol are bad things. Cortisol plays a necessary and productive role in our overall homeostasis, and can be our ally if we control it correctly.

Since cortisol is known as a stress hormone, one cannot talk about cortisol without talking about stress. Stress comes in many forms, whether it be emotional, mental, or physical. All of these forms of stress can and do contribute to the release of cortisol. When we get stressed cortisol comes to the rescue by helping us metabolize nutrients for energy so that we can meet that stress and defeat our primordial enemies.

Unfortunately, most of us do not have a lifestyle that allows us to utilize the energy that is released when we get stressed, and most of our stress is due to emotional and mental drudgery. This energy ends up getting stored as fat in our problem areas, and thus goes unused and even more difficult to shed.

Now to discuss the best way for controlling cortisol and managing its use in our systems. The key to managing our fatty problem areas and keeping cortisol levels in a healthy range is stress management.

When we talk about stressing our bodies (a little bit of stress is a good thing), we want to try to keep our work outs under or around 45 minutes in length at the longest. If you are trying to shed fat, intensity is the key, and by keeping a high intensity work out going for up to 45 minutes, you are maximizing your ability to shed fat, working long enough to burn through readily available glycogen stores, and most importantly keeping your cortisol levels from rising to critical where we would start storing fat in response to the stress.

We all know that we get stressed out about so many different things throughout each day, and these stressors are no less important to manage than the intentional stress we put on ourselves when we work out. There are a number of ways to manage these stresses and it all ties into the psychology of stress management. Most healthy people have a way to release stress, whether it be working out, watching television, or a number of other recreational activities. My personal favorite, which happens to be one of the best ways to control stress, is meditation.

No matter what method or practice you use to meditate, the principles remain the same. Meditation is scientifically proven to balance our brains, release massive amounts of stress, and put our bodies into a unique state of homeostasis that allows accelerated learning, healing, and recovery.

No matter how you want to control cortisol and stress it is important to do so for your well-being and health. Start by noticing what stresses you out, what gets your heart racing, what causes you to be anxious, and whatever else bothers you. Once you notice you can decide how to deal with each stressor, and this alone will increase your overall health by an incredible margin.


Street Talk

Thank you for this interesting article. I don't know much about cortisol but sure relate to stress so I learnt something here. I love meditation too. Very valuable.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Thanks for the comment! Meditation is great, if you ever want to try new ways to meditate you can look at some of the affiliates on my website.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago
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