Reducing The Stress Hormone For Your Clients – Part 1 with Keith Spennewyn
Learn why your clients store fat and where they store it when this hormone comes into play...and what to do about it
Everyone has stress in their lives. The question is, can stress make you fat? The answer is not so simple because it depends on how you handle that stress. Some people eat more, some move more.
Obviously, those who eat as a response to stress are more likely to experience weight gain. But, there’s another factor in the scenario too. It’s the prescription drug prednisone used to treat many different types of inflammation from asthma to arthritis to cancer.
Prednisone is a synthetic version of the human hormone cortisol. Cortisol is the hormone that you make more of when you are stressed, so it’s important to discuss!
It should be interesting to note that both insulin and cortisol play strategic roles in glucose metabolism, thus they also highly influence weight gain.
How Does Cortisol Work
Cortisol is best known for its role as a stress hormone. The best understood function of cortisol is the mediation of the “fight or flight” response coordinated with the sympathetic nervous system. The hormone itself is classified as a glucocorticoid. That means it influences glucose, through the adrenal cortex and it’s a steroid.
Since cortisol is a stress hormone associated with the fight or flight action, it should come as no surprise how it works. Generally speaking, when we become alarmed, scared or alerted the sympathetic nervous system elevates the heart rate while the body secretes cortisol which releases glucose (immediate energy) for the muscles. The idea is that the body is ready to fight or take flight.
So, cortisol is produced when we perceive physical stress. This works well for us when we are in the jungle and hear shuffling in the brush. Our sympathetic nervous system shifts our hearts into high gear and cortisol makes us release more glucose. We are ready to run if we see a hungry lion. The cortisol also decreases the need for sleep while increasing alertness.
At the same time, all non-essential metabolic activities are slowed, so that the body can use that extra energy for fighting or running away. That means that digestion, growth and other long-term things are curtailed and all energy is directed towards the task; to run. At the same time proteins are broken down and converted into more glucose. The rising blood sugar provides additional fuel for the muscles, only you are not going to use it….You are not in a jungle trying to get away. You are at your desk at work and your boss just gave you a deadline that has stressed you out.
Now the fast beating heart is doing nothing for you except to increase your blood pressure and make you anxious. The elevated glucose is met by the secretion of insulin to bring it down. At first, with high levels of insulin being secreted you begin to store more energy in the form of glucose. But your glucose reserves fill up and now you store the excess as fat. Because your diet is high in carbohydrates your fuel reserves are almost full anyway. So, it does not take long for you to begin storing more fat.
Over time, with the constant secretion of insulin and the consistently high blood glucose levels we begin to become resistant to the insulin. In other words, the cell now requires more to do the same job. Only you don’t secrete more. Blood sugars continue to rise, you continue to store additional fat.
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