Are Hormones Hindering Your Weight loss Plan?

weight loss fitness cornerHormones could be hindering your weight loss plan. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone is normally high in the morning and naturally declines throughout the day.  When we were hunters and gatherers cortisol was the hormone that signaled the body to slow down and store fat in stressful times of famine. Today’s stress usually has nothing to do with famine but the body’s response is the same. Cortisol is released and fat storage is encouraged. Since we are not in famine and continue to eat, perhaps high calorie foods, weight gain is the result. When cortisol levels are chronically elevated due to constant stress, health problems can arise. The weight gain due to this is most often around the body’s mid-section. This type of fat is known as visceral fat. It doesn’t lie beneath the surface of the skin but surrounds the abdominal organs and is strongly correlated to heart disease. Stress that is not managed keeps cortisol high. Excess cortisol also causes lack of sleep. Poor sleep also throws off two key appetite regulating hormones called leptin and ghrelin. When one is sleep derived the body decreases leptin, which is an appetite suppressant that tells us when we are full and increases ghrelin which is an appetite stimulant that tells us when to eat. Therefore when one is sleep deprived the body is signalling to eat even when it is not necessary. Managing stress can help balance cortisol, leptin and ghrelin levels and help you maintain a healthy weight. Exercise can help manage stress. Aerobic activities such as running, swimming or cycling help prevent heart disease and they tire you out therefore promoting better sleep habits. Mind/ body activities such as yoga and meditation teach methods to calm the mind, reduce anxiety and manage modern day stress.More