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Cortisol Weight Loss Myths

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By Joel Greene, VEEP Nutrition

Over the last couple of years, the hormone Cortisol has been vilified as “the nasty stress hormone”, mostly by fad weight loss marketing for niche products to suppress Cortisol.

The Junk Science Marketing:
Most of us have ideas about Cortisol and its role in weight loss based on junk science marketing, not good science. The fact is that Cortisol is one of the most vital hormones involved in energy metabolism, and elevated Cortisol is simply part of a much wider and more all-encompassing weight loss problem.

Our aim here is simple; to help debunk the weight loss myths and help you understand the real problem. First, let’s address the weight loss myths.

Junk Science Myth:
Cortisol is a nasty stress hormone. It makes you fat.

Good Science Fact:
Cortisol facilitates fat burning.

Cortisol suppresses metabolism from glucose in favor of metabolism from fat and protein. Cortisol is the primary signaling hormone involved in Gluccocortoroid action. Gluccocortoroid receptors exert vast effects over glucose metabolism.  

Think of it this way, you can use either carbs, fats or protein for energy. When you use fats for energy, you need a mechanism to suppress the use of carbs for energy. Cortisol and gluccocortoroids are a vital part of that mechanism.

Junk Science Myth:
Cortisol is bad

Good Science Fact:
Cortisol is essential for energy metabolism.

Chronically elevated Cortisol is problematic for weight loss and weight management. But chronically elevated Cortisol is akin to chronically elevated insulin; a hormone essential to energy metabolism that present in sustained excess creates Metabolic Damage.
The Real Problem:
Here is what you need to understand about chronically elevated Cortisol…

Chronically elevated Cortisol and chronically elevated insulin are different aspects of the SAME problem

The weight loss marketing hype has taught us that stress is the primary driver behind excess Cortisol.  This has some truth, but it is not the whole truth.

Excess sugar consumption and excess body fat are the primary drivers of elevated Cortisol.

Excess sugar and insulin resistance promotes excess body fat which promotes elevated cortisol.

The good science fact is that excess active Cortisol is secreted by excess body fat. What is a primary driver behind excess body fat for most people? Most people gain weight primarily from excess consumption of processed carbs.

A Real Solution for Elevated Cortisol:
A real solution for chronically elevated Cortisol must address the real problem.  The real problem behind chronically elevated Cortisol is related to chronically elevated insulin.  The factors most contributing to this problem are

-Processed Food
-Excess body fat
-insulin resistance

Processed foods concentrate glycemic load, which promotes insulin resistance. They also are high in damaged fats, and fats higher in Omega 6 than Omega 3. This results in inflammation, and poor blood lipid profiles.

Excess Body fat promotes a hormonal environment favorable to insulin resistance, leptin resistance and elevated cortisol by virtue of the fact your fat acts like an endocrine organ.

Prescriptions that  target gluccocortoroid action such as many blood pressure medications and anti-inflammatory inadvertently create damage to glucococortoroid receptors.

A recent review of several studies by the University of Sherbrooke in Canada directly implicates excess glucocorticoid stimulation, particularly the path affecting adosterone function as a major contributor to metabolic syndrome. What is not generally known is that many common blood pressure medications work precisely by manipulating glucocorticoids and aldosterone function.

SUGGESTIONS: Supplement with a fat high in Eicosanoids from Omega 3.  Increased eicosanoids from Omega 3 improve glucose metabolism and reduce inflammation. Excess cortisol suppresses glucose metabolism. Ask your doctor for new blood pressure medications or therapies for inflammation or that do not target gluccocorticoid action. Avoid over use of anti-inflammatory targeting gluccocortoroid receptors. Supplement with serratia peptidiase. This enzyme has been shown to reduce inflammation. Increase fats from MUFA’s and PUFA’s. Stop eating fried foods or heated cooking oils. Stop drinking liquid sugars and greatly reduce intake of carbs that are not bound to fiber (which includes most pasta’s and breads)

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