The Bed and Sleep Blog at BedKing
HOME  |  Archives  |  BedKing Website  |  Contact Us

Cortisol: Why you’re not losing weight

November 30, 2017


The stress hormone: sabotaging your diet & exercise

Jessica Spendlove, noted performance dietician to several high profile Australian sports teams, recently revealed why your diet isn’t working. Are you eating right, training right and still not seeing the expected results? Have you, in fact, become a little too stingy with the calories and too liberal with the exercise? And still nothing?!? Here’s why…

It’s all down to cortisol. What is cortisol? The short answer is that it is a naturally occurring steroid hormone which all of us have. The long answer is very long indeed and involves a lot of special characters from the drop-down symbols menu. Instead, think of cortisol as adrenaline’s little brother. It is the shot of espresso in your hormonal latte that gets you out of bed in the morning and wanes as the day wears on, leaving you with plain steamed milk by bedtime. (This is called your diurnal rhythm.)

Except that modern life isn’t conducive to a healthy diurnal rhythm. Any kind of stress to your body, from garden-variety existential dread to spluttering road rage, messes with your cortisol - which is rightly referred to as the stress hormone. Unfortunately, stress also includes over-exercising and starving yourself. All of which can lead to a topsy-turvy diurnal rhythm, where you have low cortisol levels during the day and spiking levels at night.

None of which would matter, except that cortisol is also responsible for several other crucial functions. To start with, it affects how you metabolise glucose and stands in direct opposition to insulin. For another, it controls your body’s “starvation” mode and might decide that all non-essential calories should be diverted from muscles and sent to long-term storage. In other words, your excessive diet and exercise are making you fat. Talk about counter-intuitive, right?

The trick, then, is to maintain a healthy diurnal rhythm by avoiding stress. While we’re not suggesting that you quit your job, you should definitely pay attention to what your body wants. Don’t go spinning just because it’s Tuesday. If your body is craving a rest, give it one. Plan your meals around your exercise, with the major intake of calories (especially carbohydrates and lean protein) just before and after, to maintain a neutral energy balance.

Most important: get enough sleep. Lack of sleep is the ultimate form of long term stress and can turn your diurnal rhythm on its head. Get up and get to bed at approximately the same time each day to cement your diurnal rhythm in place. This can sometimes be a tall order, especially after a stressful day. Jessica recommends green tea before bed, to counteract the effects of cortisol. Other studies have also suggested that music- and message therapy (and, weirdly, regular dancing / laughing) can help lower one’s cortisol levels.

None of which can replace the appeal of your own bed and welcoming mattress, topped with a decadent duvet and sprinkled with pillows to taste. Take ownership of your diurnal rhythm and sleep yourself thin: browse our line-up of excellent products, guaranteed to ship you off to health and happiness, today.


Latest Posts:
 
Sleep Deprived? DON'T Do These 7 Things
» Sleep Deprived? DON'T Do These 7 Things It happens to the best of us - you get wrapped up in after-hours work admin, binge-watch a series, stay out a little later than you intended with friends, or fall face first into a page-turner novel and before you know it you’ve got a serious sleep deficit on your hands. You wake up groggy, yo...
5 Surprising Ways Cold Weather Affects Your Sleep
» 5 Surprising Ways Cold Weather Affects Your Sleep Winter has descended on the Southern Hemisphere, and you know what that means - whip out the warm blankets, snuggly pyjamas, hot chocolate and get ready to hit the snooze button because nap season is here! If you’ve noticed that you are more prone to sleeping in or tend to hit the hay a little...
Why Sleep is Good For Your Heart
» Why Sleep is Good For Your Heart By now, we all know that sufficient sleep is vital if you wish to sustain optimal health. We also know that too little sleep has been linked to conditions ranging from obesity and type 2 diabetes, to depression and heart disease. The thing is, despite this knowledge, we didn't really know or un...
Copyright © 2009 The Bed King