Cortisol, Exercise And Weight Gain . The link that exists between a too rigid diet accompanied by very intense physical activity and high cortisol levels.A situation that can cause weight loss to stall, resulting in frustration and resorting to even more extreme measures.We understand the real role of cortisol and how to work to be able to lose weight without difficulty and without excessive deprivation, which is much easier to achieve than you might think.
Not always “doing more is better.”

To lose weight it is not enough to cut calories wildly and move more, indeed a strategy of this type can be counterproductive because it risks upsetting the delicate hormonal balance of our body and, above all, of a very precise hormone, Cortisol.

Most people who go on a diet to improve physical fitness reduce caloric intake in a serious way also increasing physical activity and in particular aerobic exercises.
There are those who like to spend hours and hours on the treadmill, elliptical or doing spinning, and then, after the first exciting initial successes there is the drama of weight loss that freezes and the general condition worsens along with the dreaded fat.

Cortisol Hormone Released

The described picture is well known by many women and certainly also men and is a source of great frustration so, often, in an attempt to overcome this situation follows an even more rigid diet, increasing even more physical activity, without any result, if not to worsen the situation. Why is this happening? What are the mechanisms that make Slimming more and more difficult despite the very little food consumed and the huge amount of physical activity? To understand this, we need to talk about such an important and misunderstood hormone, Cortisol.

Cortisol, Exercise And Weight Gain

Cortisol is a hormone that for years has enjoyed a bad press like its fellow insulin so much that many people who like to simplify complex topics in the wrong way have attached it to the label of bad hormone, so, nothing more wrong. The role of cortisol is to regulate our organism according to changes in the surrounding and internal environment.

Cortisol is released from the adrenal glands in response to physical and mental stress and it reduces blood glucose levels. its role is to make available a large amount of energy in order to mobilise the stocks of sugars, proteins and fats so, nothing bad given that as in the past not too remote it has been essential to our survival.

When released, cortisol follows the normal daily path with a maximum peak upon awakening and a minimum in the first hours of sleep which are representing recovery. also when cortisol is released rapidly in response to a stimulus and it returns as quickly to the normal state, well, in these two cases there is no problem at all.


Some problems arise when cortisol levels become chronically high so, under these conditions there is a marked catabolic effect of progressive reduction of lean body mass, increased fat mass, blood glucose constantly high with loss of bone mass and the increase of liquid due to the integration of cortisol with the mechanisms of elimination of sodium and potassium.

Short-Term memory and sleep also suffer significantly ,so it is in these conditions that cortisol becomes a little bad causing a series of negative side effects related to this continuous secretion. If this situation lasts for a very long time the consequences can worsen and that’s not only about an increase of the weight but of a greater susceptibility to Metabolic Syndrome and Type 2 Diabetes, that’s why it is better to control the production of this hormone.

Cortisol, Exercise And Weight Gain

Cortisol and diet are two important stressors that can result in increased cortisol secretion under calorie restriction and exercise. That’s right, especially when it is very rigid dieting can cause an increase in cortisol. The relationship between diet and cortisol has been investigated by a number of studies that have clearly shown that subjects who are on particularly restrictive diets exhibit increased cortisol secretion especially when they are simultaneously engaged in intense exercise.

Another factor that may contribute to worsen this situation is due to the progressive reduction of the leptin that is a hormone produced by adipose tissue that is able to modulate the secretion of cortisol and is critical in the control of appetite so, it means that the more reduced leptin level is, the greater the appetite and the secretion of cortisol are. This process creates a situation that makes the sacrifices made disappear and that could give rise to potential future problems such as osteoporosis and metabolic syndrome.

At this point, the question is : should I eat and should I sleep only? 
The conclusion is that movement and diet are not a problem.
Obviously in this article, dramatically restrictive diets and often with a reduced content of carbohydrates and proteins have been considered alongside exasperated exercise.


The solution to the problem is simple: we surely need to loosen the grip of the diet, trying to increase the share of carbohydrates ,of course, is quality, does not certainly speaks of biscuits, cakes and ice-cream, but Whole Grains, Cereals like quinoa and buckwheat , legumes such as chickpeas and lentils and maybe take a little rest from the physical activity. it often takes several days if not weeks to improve the situation.

The diet should provide an adequate intake of the various macronutrients: remember for example that carbohydrates are important to maintain a good level of leptin if you have to maintain a calorie share that should be very close to the Daily metabolic expenditure (TDEE).

The physical activity is certainly not interrupted but should be modified alternating cardio workouts to resistance workouts also free body weight which are very important to get good and tonic muscle mass that unfortunately is the first victim of a rigid diet.

By reducing stress load from over-controlled lifestyles can contribute significantly to restoring the disturbed balance by returning cortisol to normal values. The close link that exists between diet, exercise and cortisol reminds us that not always “doing more is better” because our organism does not respond in a linear way to our interventions as often we would like to believe.

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