Cortisol is hormone produced by the adrenal glands and is a result of stress. To counter the stress, body releases Cortisol that acts by releasing enzymes responsible for converting protein into blood sugar. This blood sugar is stored as excess fat. Cortisol is primary gluco-corticoid and is responsible for increasing blood glucose levels for energy requirements. This is an adrenal secretion and is released in case of fear, anxiety and stress. Release of Cortisol is a pure stress related function. It is body’s mechanism against saving brain from overload by providing more energy. It does not matter if you are already taking a high fat diet or not. Once stressed, body is going to respond in the most primal manner to protect itself.
Primarily a stress hormone, Cortisol is released in response to stress situations that can range from anxiety during a traffic jam, a failed project, and your kids not doing well in school or even a visit to hospital. Strange as it may sound, quite a number of people are scared of visiting hospitals and get stressed due to this. If you have a stressful life, it does not matter what kind of diet you have. It may be a low calorie or a high calorie diet; your body will react to stress and anxiety in the only way it knows. It will release Cortisol to increase blood glucose for greater energy requirements.
Other situations when Cortisol is released are extreme fear, or when you are faced with extremely dangerous situations. During these situations your body needs extra energy to counter any untoward development. You may have experienced in close quarters situations when you had a close shave in an accident situation. You can feel adrenalin rush in such instances. This adrenalin rush is nothing but release of Cortisol to increase energy production. It can be said that ultimately, due to increased blood glucose level, Cortisol and stress fat are one and same thing.
You can always get your Cortisol level checked any time you want. Need to check Cortisol level arises once you start feeling that your clothes do not fit you anymore and you need to take measures to get rid of excess fat.
As time passes, stress levels increase and Cortisol level in blood increases with age. Amongst adults, highest level of Cortisol is found in the morning and lowest at around midnight. The higher level of Cortisol in the morning might be further elevated after an exercise session. Ideally, you should have a Cortisol level of 6-23 mcg/dl in the blood stream in the morning.
If you have higher than ideal levels in your blood, it is a straight forward diagnosis for excess weight. Excess weight due to Cortisol usually finds its way to abdominal cavity. This is the most unhealthy variety of fat and is responsible for a wide variety of diseases.
To think that Cortisol is the primary agent for fat increase would be a mistake. Other than bad diet, and variety of other reasons, higher Cortisol level can be a contributing factor. It ultimately leads to a small amount of abdominal fat. Majority of fat deposit on a person are due to various other reasons than Cortisol alone.
Stress can actually be a weight buster. That can happen only if you are able to manage your stress well. If you indulge in over eating due to stress, you are bound to put on more weight. Blaming stress alone for your weight problems is a wrong approach.
Blaming it all on Cortisol should not be resorted to as it is only a mechanism adapted by body to help you. It is the result of a perfectly natural phenomenon. Only if you suffer from a Cortisol disorder is it possible that you can have weight problems. If it is allowed to remain unchecked in the blood stream, it can be a nuisance. Idea is to maintain correct levels of Cortisol and stress fat by taking to meditation and activities that make you happy.
Research has shown that the best method to keep Cortisol level under check is by controlling stress level. You can easily achieve this by enrolling in some stress busting programs.