Harmonize Fitness
Harmonize Fitness

What you need to know about cortisol

08 Sleep and hormones

I´ve seen many people on the fitness industry only talking and focusing on diet and exercise to achieve any goal whether it´s muscle gains or fat loss but hormones play an important role and if we don´t consider them we´re making everything harder.

When people want and try to lose weight most of them follow commercial weight loss programs and follow the diet and workout program and they don´t think about their hormones and the impact they have on their results. For me; losing weight, getting in shape and sustain an amazing physique is more about hormones than low calorie diets.

Cortisol is one of those hormones we need to understand. This hormone is triggered by stress and is a survival mechanism. Every time you are in a negative situation or a highly stressful situation your heart rate goes up, you are more awake and focus, you feel adrenaline increasing this are all signs that your body is in a “fight or flight” moment and it´s prepared in case you need to run, once the situation is over your body relax and calm and gets back to its normal state.

Cortisol helps us survive but if we have high levels of stress on our body, our body is not able to function properly it shots down functions and systems to use that energy to help us survive this is when we develop different health problems like gaining weight, hypertension, sleep problems.

Have you noticed that people get sick after a sever negative situation? Pay attention to people close to you and see how after a very stressful situation like a heartbreak, divorce, the loss of a loved one people get sick. When we´re dealing with those situations our body shots down the immune system, growth and other functions and there´s no one keeping our body safe from diseases.

The way we´re living nowadays is so stressful we are use to live with stress and it´s normal. Most of the times we live with high levels of stress and we don´t know it because that´s how we´ve been educated. Growing up we´ve been thought to live a very normal routine life with a “safe” job, we´ve been thought to survive and to just live day by day.

We are so use to this kind of life and this levels of stress that we consider  to be normal but they won´t help you in any way with your health and fitness goals. To make everything worst is so hard to lower cortisol and keep it low.

Getting stuck in traffic everyday to get to the office to do something we don´t love with people we don´t like and just get paid enough to pay bills. Dealing with people we don´t feel comfortable, discussing with coworkers or our boss, the fear of being fired, dealing with coworkers of other areas during lunch. And many more negative situations that we have to deal with everyday are the reason why we´re always stressed.

For weight loss, if cortisol is high you´ll get a much tougher time to lose fat, you may be following the best nutrition and workout program but if you´re living with high levels of stress you won´t get the results you are looking for. To lose fat you need to keep cortisol as low as possible and this can be hard to do.

High levels of cortisol is one of the reasons of poor quality sleep, our body has its internal clock and everything it does is regulated you may have heard of the circadian rhythm and sleep stages, this can get very complex and we´re going to talk about it on separate post but for now what you need to know is that cortisol is higher in the morning and it decreases throughout the day, if cortisol levels are high in the night it will be harder for you to fall asleep and you´ll be waking up frequently.

Cortisol is released by stress so finding ways to low stress is key to help you lower cortisol and have good quality sleep every night.

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