Want to talk to a nutritionist? Call 480-435-3557

How Cortisol Negatively Affects Weight Gain

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • Cortisol is a hormone that your body releases when stressed.
  • Cortisol has negative impacts on weight gain by slowing your metabolism, increasing cravings, and affecting your sleep. 
  • Other health risks associated with chronically high cortisol include high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic syndrome.
  • You can control your cortisol levels by building healthy habits and following stress management techniques with a holistic effort.

Cortisol’s Effect on Weight

Cortisol is a hormone that the body releases in response to stress. This hormone serves an important biological function, as it puts the body in a state of high alertness, known as “fight or flight”, which helps the body protect itself from danger. This was helpful when our ancestors used to have to be on the lookout for and run from predators.

However, today, stress comes from other reasons, like family, work, bills, and more—and when your body is in a constant state of stress, it can start to have harmful effects on your health. Constant cortisol production is linked to negative lifestyle factors and can have consequences on your health and weight. For example, high levels of cortisol can affect your metabolism and encourage unhealthy habits that lead to weight gain.

With these impacts, controlling your cortisol levels plays an important part in maintaining a healthy weight. Understanding how stress impacts your weight gain can help you take the appropriate steps to weight loss and take charge with a holistic program that works for you.

The Link Between Cortisol & Weight Gain

High cortisol levels and weight gain are closely related, as cortisol has several direct and indirect impacts on weight gain. Understanding these impacts is crucial for making the most of your weight loss journey.

Direct Link Between Cortisol & Weight Gain

Directly, overproduction of cortisol causes the body to store more body fat. Cortisol can lead to metabolic syndrome, which makes the body more likely to convert foods into body fat instead of energy.

Cortisol also triggers the release of sugar from the liver and into the bloodstream for the body to convert into energy in times of stress. Cortisol counteracts the effects of insulin, which is a hormone produced in the pancreas to regulate blood sugar. If your body has consistently high levels of cortisol, it can leave your blood sugar consistently high as well.

High blood sugar is known as hyperglycemia, which can have several effects on weight gain. For one, if your blood sugar is consistently elevated, your body will store the excess sugar as body fat in an attempt to regulate blood sugar levels.

At the same time, your body will also have to produce excess insulin to keep up with your high blood sugar, which can cause your body to become less sensitive to insulin and cause type 2 diabetes.

Sustainable Weight Loss Through Healthy Habits

At re:vitalize, our programs are designed to help you not just lose weight, but keep it off, giving you the tools, support, and lasting habits you need for sustainable results.

Indirect Links Between Cortisol & Weight Gain

Cortisol does not only influence weight gain on its own. Rather, cortisol can influence other lifestyle habits that can cause you to gain weight.  

For example, cortisol production causes an increase in appetite, which can lead to cravings for sweet, sugary foods. Of course, an abundance of these foods can lead to a calorie surplus that results in weight gain.

Cortisol can also negatively impact your sleep habits, contributing to this cycle even further. A lack of sleep leads to the production of ghrelin, which plays a strong part in increasing food cravings. Missing out on sleep can also make you too tired for physical activity or keeping up with other daily habits, making you less likely to burn calories and increasing your risk of gaining weight.

The Importance of Stress Management

Managing your stress levels has important implications for your health. Chronic stress leads to a more consistent release of cortisol, which can have not only negative impacts on healthy weight management but also on your overall health. Chronic stress has harmful effects on both your mental and physical health, as elevated cortisol levels can impact several areas of your everyday life, emphasizing the importance of stress management.

Consistent stress can put you at risk for all the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Headaches
  • A suppressed immune system
  • Sleep problems
  • Memory issues
  • Concentration impairment

Increased stress and subsequent conditions, like a lack of sleep, combined can also lead to weight gain, creating a vicious cycle that may result in only more health complications. Managing stress allows you to get a better handle on your mental and physical health by controlling cortisol levels and allowing your body to function as normal.

See Also: Immune Support Supplement

Health Risks Associated with High Cortisol Levels

High cortisol does more than just negatively impact weight gain and cause general discomfort. Chronically high cortisol levels can have long-term health implications and lead to more serious health complications.

Some of the health and disease risks correlated with high cortisol levels include:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Osteoporosis
  • Insulin resistance/diabetes
  • Psychiatric disorders

How To Manage Cortisol Levels

High cortisol levels have several impacts on your health and weight, but you are not powerless against managing them. With an awareness of the risks of chronic stress and the right stress management strategies, you can take charge of your cortisol levels.

Consider the following strategies for reducing your cortisol levels:

  • Stress management techniques – Techniques like meditation, breathing exercises, yoga, and hobbies can all help you manage stress and reduce cortisol production.
    Healthy habits – Building healthy habits like improving your sleep quality, exercising regularly, and taking time for self-care are great for mental health and stress relief.
  • Maintaining healthy interpersonal relationships – Laughter and belonging can help reduce cortisol levels, so meaningful relationships where you can share laughter with others can have positive impacts.
  • Consider getting a pet – A pet can be a great calming presence in the home and help offer a sense of comfort to keep cortisol levels low.
  • Eat a nutritious diet – The foods you eat can affect your cortisol levels, so it’s best to eat nutritious, whole foods. Nutrient-rich whole foods also help satisfy cravings, so you eat less.

Still, when it comes to building healthy habits, staying accountable is difficult. If you are looking to manage your stress levels as part of your weight loss efforts, a weight loss program can help. Our team of weight loss coaches and board-certified nutritionists can empower you to take charge of your weight loss journey.

Reduce Cortisol Levels with a Holistic Weight Loss Program

Cortisol is a hormone that the body produces in response to stress. High cortisol levels can lead to metabolic syndrome, a lack of sleep, high blood sugar, and more. All these effects can make chronic stress your weight loss efforts and your overall wellness, making stress management a crucial component in weight loss.

At re:vitalize weight loss & wellness, our Weight Loss and Metabolic Reset programs and Flexible Weight Loss programs are designed to take a holistic approach to weight loss, including healthy habit formation and stress management techniques to set you up for success in managing cortisol. We’ll also use our BioScan™ technology to highlight which nutrients are optimal for your weight loss and wellness, so you can craft recipes that promote a healthy weight.

Our team will give you all the tools to succeed in a way that works for you and your lifestyle. Our expert weight loss coaches and board-certified nutritionists are here to help you along the whole way through, providing accountability and empowerment for you to achieve a path to sustainable weight loss.

Schedule a consultation with our team at re:vitalize weight loss to learn more and start your journey today.

Get Started Today

Schedule an in-person consultation at one of our Phoenix weight loss clinics or a virtual consultation to start your weight loss journey.

Schedule Your Consultation

FREE Initial Consultation
$99 value
Offer valid through July 31, 2024

two females conversing at a coaching session

Remove the guesswork! Identify what your body needs to rebalance and lose weight in a natural way with top-of-the-line biometric technology and a personalized approach to your weight loss.

Find out more at your FREE initial consultation — either virtually or in person.