Ever wonder why you get the urge to eat when you feel stressed out? You’re actually experiencing a blood sugar low that is the result of a cascade of hormones stimulated by the elevated stress hormone, cortisol. Stressful life moments as well as physical stress from exercising cause the adrenal glands to release cortisol. Drinking caffeinated beverages like coffee habitually also stimulate elevated cortisol levels, putting the body into a chronic state of stress.
Cortisol’s job is to get the body plenty of fuel to deal with any emergency. The liver first responds to cortisol’s signal by pumping out glucose to provide energy in case you need to use your muscles to escape danger. Next, your muscles begin to convert themselves to amino acids and glucose for an additional source of energy. If you aren’t moving a lot to use up all this increased blood sugar, your pancreas gets the signal to decrease the resulting high blood sugar; it produces insulin that surges into action to activate your cells to take in blood sugar. As a result, your blood sugar plummets, and you lose control of your appetite.
Stress makes you experience hunger, but not just any old hunger. When stressed from elevated cortisol, your body wants quick energy and it knows that sweet, sugary foods or fatty snacks will provide it fastest. As your appetite swings into gear due to your low blood sugar, you reach for the closest snack you can find, sweet or fatty and calorie-dense, but typically not nutrient-dense. It’s the quick hit from rapidly released carbohydrates or high calorie fats that you’re craving, not lasting energy from fiber-rich foods that slowly release carbohydrates over time.
More Fat, Less Muscle
Chronically high cortisol can make your body both insulin resistant and leptin resistant. Leptin is the hormone that tells your body you’ve eaten enough and don’t need to store any more fat. Unfortunately, it’s as if your cells become deaf; they just don’t respond like they should to the messages from insulin and leptin when they are bombarded by stress signals from cortisol.
Cortisol also slows down your metabolism by decreasing the production of TSH, Thyroid Stimulating Hormone. As a result, you can’t rely on your body at rest to burn as many calories as it should.
Your appetite stays stuck on overdrive. You gain weight, especially around your middle. You lose muscle as cortisol signals for more energy to transform your muscle tissue into glucose and then insulin converts it into fat. Now you have less muscle to burn up energy, and more fat sitting around your belly!
The body is smart. It knows that if it stores fat around the abdomen, it will be easy to convert it into available energy close to the heart and major organs for emergencies. If you have elevated cortisol, your body thinks you’re always in a state of emergency. Thus, chronically high cortisol causes weight gain just where you don’t want it and your metabolism slows down because you have reduced muscle, the tissue which burns up the most calories while we’re at rest.
Lower DHEA Means Less Fat-Burning Muscle
While our adrenals are preoccupied with producing cortisol, unfortunately they are not producing DHEA. DHEA is the mother hormone for testosterone, the sex hormone that helps us build muscle. DHEA is also called the youth hormone. As we age, DHEA production naturally decreases as cortisol rises. No wonder we get fatter the older we get!
Caffeine Starts the Chain Reaction
200 mg of caffeine, which you can get in one 12 oz cup of coffee, can elevate your cortisol by 30% within an hour. If you are drinking coffee all day long, you’re keeping yourself in a state of stress. Loss of appetite control is only one of the many effects that chronic stress has on your body, but it is the most visible one as it shows up in fat!
If you still enjoy your morning coffee, we recommend only drinking a cup in the morning when cortisol levels are naturally higher. Then drink Teeccino Herbal Coffee the rest of the day to maintain stable blood sugar and feel energized. A cup of Teeccino is satisfying and filling, making it a great snack when you need a break and an energy lift. With 65mg of potassium in every cup to replenish your cellular metabolism, Teeccino won’t trigger the cortisol cascade of hormones that unbalance your blood sugar and make you lose control of your appetite.
Here Are More Tips For Lowering Cortisol:
- Get more sleep, especially deep sleep, to counteract the effects of stress. The average 50 year old has nighttime cortisol levels more than 30 times higher than the average 30 year old. Try taking sublinqual melatonin, a natural hormone that promotes longer and deeper sleep, before going to bed to boost your own melatonin production.
- Exercise regularly to build muscle mass and increase brain output of serotonin and dopamine, brain chemicals that reduce anxiety and depression.
- Take anti-stress supplements like B vitamins and adaptogenic herbs. B vitamins, especailly pantothenic acid, support the adrenal glands. Adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha, eleuthero, tulsi, schizandra, rhodiola and astragalus all help the body to cope with stress and lower cortisol levels.
- Meditate or listen to relaxation tapes that promote the production of alpha (focused alertness) and theta (relaxed) brain waves. Meditation has been proven to lower stress levels and promote good health