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The Cortisol Connection – Exercise Pt 1

Written by: Lyn-Genet Recitas, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 
Executive Contributor Lyn-Genet Recitas

Among all the stress hormones, cortisol plays the most crucial role in your overall health and weight management. When present in appropriate amounts at specific times of the day, cortisol serves as your energy source. Ideally, your cortisol levels should peak in the morning, providing the motivation to rise from bed and commence the day. Gradually, these levels decrease throughout the day, reaching a low point in the evening to facilitate easy sleep. When you wake up cortisol levels are high, fueling you for the day.

Man holding Anatomical human kidney Adrenal gland model

Human evolution has endowed us with adaptability, including cortisol level adjustments. Thus, whenever you encounter a challenge during the day, your cortisol levels to quickly rise to tackling the situation. In a healthy body, significant challenges trigger substantial cortisol spikes, while minor challenges induce smaller responses. Every challenge sets off a stress hormone sequence akin to fight-or-flight, as if your body perceives a threat and readies itself for action.


In a healthy body, cortisol surges and subsides, stress occurs and then relaxation follows. You rise to challenges and subsequently cease feeling stressed. In this scenario, stress is unlikely to lead to weight gain.


Compounding this issue, many of us choose to exercise during this high-stress evening period, to “relax”. While you do get a short boost of serotonin, your happy neurotransmitter, you are still disrupting your body’s rhythm. Nighttime is when we are meant to start unwinding from our day. This is when cortisol the return to normal levels takes longer. That traffic jams? Cortisol spike. Your annoying coworker? Cortisol spike.


Compounding this issue, many of us choose to exercise during this high-stress evening period, to “relax”. While you do get a short boost of serotonin, your happy neurotransmitter, you are still disrupting your body’s rhythm. Nighttime is when we are meant to start unwinding from our day. This is when cortisol levels are supposed to drop. But that exercise? It causes a cortisol spike. When cortisol levels remain persistently high due to ongoing stress, weight gain, skewed hormones and slowed metabolism. And the next day you are even more stressed out thanks to that HIIT class at night.


We haven’t biologically evolved that much from our hunter-gatherer days. Your body can’t distinguish stress from work deadlines to having to survive a long hard winter or fend off wild animals. It interprets the stress as danger. These heightened levels of cortisol lead to fat storage and abdominal fat- aka the poochy belly. You now have fat/energy reserves which would have aided you in fleeing from danger.


Except you don’t want or need that fat.


The fun doesn’t stop there! Abdominal fat contains elevated levels of an enzyme that reactivates inactive cortisol. The more stress you experience, the more cortisol your body produces, effectively turning you into a cortisol-generating machine. Throughout this process, your body's response aligns with ancient survival strategies: slowing metabolism, conserving energy, and retaining body fat.


Does it seem like we are designed to gain weight and won’t win the battle of the bulge? Well, we are. Is there something you can do to stop this cycle? 100% yes. That’s why I wrote The Metabolism Plan. It helps you to identify all the stimuli that cause stress and shows you how to fix it.


Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and visit my website for more info!

Lyn-Genet Recitas Brainz Magazine
 

Lyn-Genet Recitas, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Lyn-Genet Recitas, Sports Nutritionist, HHP NMT, is the NY Times and International Bestselling author of The Plan and The Metabolism Plan a groundbreaking anti-inflammatory nutritional protocol which has been published in over 15 countries. She’s been featured on Dr. Oz, Huffington Post, CBS, NBC, Fox News, Women’s Running, Fitness, Vogue, Marie Claire, Elle, and Prevention. Lyn-Genet and her staff of doctors and nutritionists have helped hundreds of thousands of men and women reach their best health by finding their chemical responses to food, not counting calories. The Plan is an effective way to lose weight, improve health and reverse the aging process.

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