February 9, 2012 by Imprint Fitness
Whenever we are under stress, our bodies release cortisol.
Cortisol plays an important role in the body’s regulation of cardiovascular function and fat, protein and carbohydrate utilization. When the body experiences stress, cortisol secretion increases, causing a breakdown of muscle protein and the release of amino acids to form glucose. The resulting higher level of glucose in the body combined with the decreased use of glucose by other tissues in the body, ensures that the brain is receiving adequate energy.
Small amounts of cortisol are a “good” thing but the prolonged secretion of cortisol can have detrimental effects on the proper functioning of the body’s cardiovascular, immune, neurological and metabolic systems. Too much cortisol for too long will lead us to develop a number of adverse health conditions. Elevated cortisol levels have been associated with increased appetite, weight gain, diabetes and depression.
Chronic stress has been found to be a major contributing factor in obesity.
Cortisol is a potent signal to increase appetite and store fat. The increased cortisol in our body tells our brain that we’re hungry, at the same time telling our fat cells to store as much fat as they can and hold on to it as tightly as possible. Chronic stress can lead to cravings for high fat, high carbohydrate foods such as cookies, candy and chips. This stress-driven appetite can lead to dangerous weight gain, primarily around the waist. This has caused 20% of American adults to become obese with a stress related condition known as metabolic syndrome, which is characterized by an excessive amount of abdominal fat.
Elevated cortisol levels are widespread within our fast-paced modern world.
Common Cortisol Raising Triggers
- Being stuck in traffic
- Arguing with family members or people in general
- Arriving late to work
- Getting over anxious about an upcoming exam
- Physically demanding jobs
- Worrying about your next meal
- Temperature Extremes
Scientific studies have shown that the following 3 groups of people are highly likely to suffer from elevated cortisol levels.
- Those who experience daily stress (work deadlines, family demands, bills, traffic, etc).
- Those who get less than 8 hours of sleep each night.
- Those who restrict calories for weight loss and dieting
Check Out the following article for more information and ways to control your cortisol levels,