If you exercise regularly and eat healthily and still fail to lose weight, the reason could be a hormone that we all produce called cortisol.
It’s very important because it’s the one that causes us to react when there is danger. However, a continued excess of high levels of cortisol can trigger a series of problems that are summarized in a syndrome called Cushing.
The most common way to produce it continuously is when you are under constant stress. That is why cortisol is also called the stress hormone. Producing a lot of it destroys the muscles and alters the metabolism negatively, generating abdominal fat among other things.
Symptoms of high cortisol:
- Mood swings: anger, anxiety, depression.
- Permanent tiredness even if you do nothing.
- Palpitations and/or hypertension.
- Poor or excess appetite and weight gain without apparent explanation.
- Digestive problems.
- Frequent urination, constipation, or diarrhea.
- Sleeping problems.
- Memory loss.
- Decreased defenses.
- Facial hair and wrinkles.
- Swollen face, fat on the neck.
How to reduce it:
1. Foods to avoid:
- Caffeine, alcohol, foods with high sugar content, sweeteners (especially aspartame), and excess potassium.
2. Foods to be consumed:
- Those high in phosphatidylserines such as mackerel, herring, eel, and quality proteins in general.
- Foods rich in phenylalanine such as chicken, eggs, brown rice, broccoli, pumpkin, watercress, and artichoke.
- Foods rich in tryptophan such as brown rice, soy, oilseeds, meat, eggs, milk, and derivatives.
- Foods rich in vitamin B5: dates, almonds, milk, salmon, wheat germ, and oatmeal.
- Others: beans, whole grains, and sunflower seeds.
3. Eat at intervals. It is okay to eat 5 times a day in sensible portions. Do not skip meals as this produces cortisol.
4. Exercise. Train 3 times a week but not more than 50 minutes, as too much exercise also increases cortisol. Never train 7 days in a row — rest at least 2 or 3 days.
5. Sleep well. It is important to have between 8 and 10 hours of sleep so that your cortisol levels decrease and the body recovers.
6. Relax. Look for some technique of relaxation or meditation, and incorporate it into your life.
7. Avoid any stimulants. Do not drink energy drinks, caffeine, or alcohol.
8. Take anti-stress supplements: vitamin C, rhodiola, vitamin B5, folic acid, vitamin A, zinc, ginseng, licorice, chromium, magnesium, calcium, St. John’s Wort, chamomile, and oats.
9. Drink plenty of water. Stay well hydrated every day, and make it a habit to drink a glass of water in the morning on an empty stomach and another glass of water before going to sleep.