Cortisol Part 1

Too much stress makes you fat and weak!

As you may already know through the insulin post, I’m looking deeper into the factors that are responsible for weight plateaus and weight gain. One major factor is cortisol.

Cortisol is the so called stress or fight or flight hormone. It is a catabolic hormone and responsible for getting the body fast energy during a stressful situation. It accomplishes its task by stopping insulin production and by raising the blood glucose level. This is something good in a stressful situation, this means in a short time period. It turns bad if the cortisol level is raised high over a long time period.


Like the name suggests, stress causes the body to produce cortisol. Stress can have different forms and causes:

  • Physical stress: e.g. intensive training

  • Emotional stress: e.g. obsessing about your ex-girlfriend

  • Psychological stress: working under a deadline

Important is to know what causes you stress. Then you can do something against it and the effects.

By: barkCC BY 2.0

Effects of high cortisol levels over a long time period

First let’s take a look at the effects specific to weight. Cortisol tells the body to store fat and to break muscles. Under high cortisol you will have an increased appetite, especially for sweets. The extra calories will lead to fat gains around your hip region. If you keep strictly to your diet you will experience a weight plateau. Your body will resist fat loss. Instead, it will use your muscles as an energy source. This leads to a decreased metabolism. This decrease will make it harder to lose weight. It also destroys your training progress.

Now let’s take a brief look at the other negative effects:

  • You age faster

  • You are more likely to get a heard disease

  • Your immune system will weaken

  • You experience mood swings

  • You fell a lot fatigue

  • You will experience a decreased sex drive

  • You will experience a lot memory loss

To sum it up in one sentence, high cortisol/stress level make you fat and weak!

Your man,

– Gaius Wolf



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