Dealing with Cortisol
I recently had my biosignature taken by fellow Storm fitness trainer Chris Grieveson, (@CG_Fitness on twitter) hoping to gain some focus on what I wanted to achieve over the coming year. Biosignature modulation is a method of measuring body fat, through skin fold measurements, from 12 sites around the body. From these results, Chris can show which hormones are perhaps unbalanced and causing fat storage at a specific areas. So looking at my results he found that my priority area is my cortisol production, which is often associated with belly fat. So what is cortisol and what can we do to help manage it.
Cortisol is a stress hormone produced by the adrenal gland within the kidney, its produced when you wake, under times of stress and to help cope with danger. Its job is to make glucose and fatty acids available to the body to be used as energy. So cortisol is a necessary hormone for the body. However when the body is under constant stress too much is produced and it can become an enemy to the body causing,
- Break down muscle tissue.
- Oxidize tissues.
- Diverts energy away from the immune system.
- Places the body in a catabolic state.
- Excess fat storage.
- Blood sugar abnormalities
Most people in the western world have elevated levels of cortisol, work, lack of sleep, processed foods, commuting, family commitments, money, toxins in our food and atmosphere, all these things cause levels of cortisol to be elevated, leading to the issues listed above.
So what can we do to try and lower our cortisol levels, here’s 6 top tips on how to manage your cortisol.
- Get a good nights sleep. At least 8 hours per night of quality sleep will allow your cortisol levels to lower. Those with less than 8 hours quality sleep have been found to have 50% more cortisol in the blood.
- Reduce your caffeine intake. A mug of coffee can increase your cortisol by 30% and can also affect your sleep. Try to remove caffeine completely when first trying to reduce cortisol, but if you must have a cup try to make it no later than 6 hours before you go to bed.
- Drink more water. Being dehydrated is a major stress to the body so make sure your constantly drinking water. Aim for 37ml per kg of body weight, so a 100kg person would need 3.7 litres or 6 and a half pints. This may seem like a lot, so try taking a 1.5 litre bottle of water to work and keeping it with you at all times and aim to have it empty by the end of the day, re-fill at home and start again. Be sure to take water from the bottle if you have a cup of tea as this will count as well.
- Try to alkalise the body. Stress raises the acidity of your blood, the body works at its best in a slightly alkaline state. Try adding lime to the water you drink. Make sure your eating lots of green vegetables such as broccoli, kale, green beans. Maybe try a green drink at breakfast or lunch when green veg is probably not something you’d usually have.
- Try a Vit C supplement. Vitamin C seems to reduce the production of cortisol. Try 6000mg per day, but spread out as the body can only utilise a certain amount at a time. 1000mg upon waking and after training will also help to lower cortisol.
- Mediate. Try and relax for at least 20mins per day where you let your mind switch off. Read a book, take a bath, go for a massage whatever allows you to switch off. A great idea is to use some of the guided mediation videos available on you tube, plug your headphones in and lie down. There available for pretty much every duration you could want and from personal experience really work.
Alongside a healthy eating and exercise regime, these tips can help you manage your cortisol and therefore aid your body fat goals. Over the coming weeks I’m trying to implement as many of these cortisol management techniques into my lifestyle to see if I can make a difference to my biosignature results. I’ll let you know how I get on.
For more information on diet plans, cortisol, exercise or biosignatures, contact Team Storm #teamstorm