Cortisol is the “fight or flight” hormone released in response to stress. Chronic stress and elevated cortisol causes the body to store fat, lose muscle and slow the metabolic rate. Too often I see clients who are eating a seemingly healthful diet; they may even be at a healthy weight, but still carry a little pouch around their middle. I usually encourage addressing the following:
- Cut back or eliminate all drinks with large amounts of caffeine in them. – This includes all sodas, energy drinks, and coffee. Drinking caffeine causes a spike in cortisol levels. Limit coffee to 16 ounces before noon.
- Reduce the amount of simple sugar in your diet. – Avoid bread, pasta, candy, chocolate and cake.
- Drink enough water – Although there is a lack of evidence to support drinking any specific amount, aim to have urine that is a light color, almost like water.
- Eat more fish – Have fish 2-3 times per week; consider supplementing with 1000-2000 mg of fish oil. Salmon sardines and mackerel are some of the fish highest in anti-inflammatory good fats.
- Sleep!– A minimum of 8 hours per night.
- Stress Management – Yoga, meditation, exercise, take a hot bath, listen to music, etc.