Published On By Rachel Nall

how to Stop Cortisol Weight Gain

Cortisol is the body’s stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands. It may help control blood sugar levels, manage sleep-wake cycles, and even reduce inflammation.

However, when cortisol levels remain increased for extended periods, it could disrupt sleep patterns, contributing to weight gain and high blood pressure, which may also lead to chronic stress.

High cortisol levels might also compromise the immune system, making you more prone to illnesses.

This article will provide some evidence-based measures to reduce cortisol levels while also discussing the link between elevated cortisol and belly fat accumulation.

What Is Cortisol?

Cortisol steroid hormone is produced by your two adrenal glands that are present at the top of both kidneys. This hormone may help manage your metabolism and support your overall bodily functions.

The cortisol hormone helps regulate stress, fight infections, and regulate blood sugar levels. It

may help in mediating the stress response and regulating metabolic function.

Cortisol levels vary throughout the day, staying high in the morning to help wake up and stay alert and gradually decreasing as bedtime approaches.

Health Effects of Excessive Cortisol

When cortisol levels remain consistently high due to stress or other factors, it might lead to health issues like disrupted sleep patterns, weight gain, increased blood pressure, and a weak immune system.

To further understand the adverse effects of excessive cortisol, let’s take a look at the potential consequences:

Health Effects of Excessive Cortisol Effects on the Body Effects on Well-being
Disrupted sleep patterns Weight gain Elevated blood pressure
Compromised immune system Inflammation Reduced bone density
Impaired cognitive function Increased risk of cardiovascular disease Mood disturbances

Signs Of A Stress Belly

Stress can manifest in physical changes, including developing a stress belly characterized by an expanding waistline, bloating, and digestive issues.

Chronic stress might cause weight gain in the abdominal region. According to a study, stress may increase abdominal bloating due to increased anxiety and depression. Abdominal distension could be due to trapped gas or incomplete nutrition that lacks fiber and nutrients.

9 Effective Ways To Reduce Cortisol Belly Fat

  1. Healthy Diet

    Eating nutritious whole-grain foods, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats may help regulate cortisol levels.

    According to a study, a high-sugar diet might increase cortisol levels. It could also suppress optimal cortisol production in your body, which could be problematic during stressful situations.

    Dark chocolate contains potent flavonoids, which may help address increasing cortisol levels. It may help in a slower release of cortisol levels in your adrenal glands.

    Food Group Examples Benefits
    Whole Grains Quinoa, Brown Rice Provide fiber, vitamins, and minerals
    Fruits Berries, Citrus Fruits Rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals
    Vegetables Spinach, Broccoli High in fiber, vitamins, and minerals
    Lean Proteins Chicken Breast, Tofu Essential for muscle growth and repair
    Healthy Fats Avocado, Olive Oil Provide satiety and support hormone production
    Omega-3 Sources Salmon, Chia Seeds Help balance cortisol levels and reduce inflammation
    Stress-Reducing Foods Dark Chocolate, Green Tea Promote relaxation and decrease cortisol release

  2. Proper Hydration

    Drinking water may help in the breakdown of fat. However, when the body becomes dehydrated, it may perceive it as stress and respond by increasing cortisol levels.

    Thus, ensuring proper hydration may support a healthy metabolism, which is essential for weight management.

    To stay adequately hydrated, drinking at least eight glasses of water daily or following the “8×8” rule, which suggests consuming eight 8-ounce glasses daily, is recommended.

  3. Getting Adequate Sleep

    Proper sleep may help maintain a healthy balance and prevent excessive cortisol levels, which can manage weight gain.

    Elevated cortisol levels can increase appetite, cravings for unhealthy foods, and belly fat accumulation.

    Establishing a consistent sleep routine, limiting electronic gadget usage close to bedtime, and exercising daily may help induce quality sleep.

  4. Start Working Out

    Exercise may support weight loss by burning calories, and it could also help in lowering cortisol levels. When you perform physical activity, your body secretes endorphin hormones, which act as natural mood boosters and help alleviate stress. Regular exercise may indirectly impact cortisol levels, aiding in the reduction of unwanted belly fat.

  5. Manage Stress

    Stress management is essential for effectively addressing and reducing belly fat caused by the cortisol hormone, which might cause weight gain.

    Activities such as yoga and acupuncture could help you relax and reduce cortisol levels. Deep breathing exercises may provide relaxation, helping to reduce stress levels and provide a sense of calm.

  6. Avoid Processed Foods

    Processed foods contain trans fats, excessive sugar, and refined carbohydrates that may increase inflammation and contribute to weight gain.

    Fishes like salmon and mackerel, contain omega-3 fatty acids, shown to have anti-inflammatory effects. They may also help lower inflammation and triglyceride levels.

    You could also include these foods in your daily diet, which may help lower inflammation and address unwanted weight gain.

    • Blueberries
    • strawberries
    • Spinach
    • Kale
    • Turmeric
    • Ginger

  7. Relaxation Techniques

    Including relaxation techniques in your daily routine might counteract the effects of cortisol. Deep breathing could help calm the nervous system and reduce cortisol levels.

    Yoga or tai chi practices could also help reduce stress, lower cortisol levels, and improve flexibility and strength.

  8. Avoid Caffeine

    Caffeine might disrupt the natural sleep-wake cycle and lead to poor-quality sleep. Foods and beverages containing caffeine should be consumed in moderation and not close to bedtime.

    It is essential to be mindful of the caffeine content and consume caffeine-based foods or drinks earlier in the day to avoid any negative impact on sleep.

    Here is a table showcasing the approximate caffeine content in typical food and beverages:

    Food/Beverage Caffeine Content (mg)
    Coffee (8 oz) 95-165
    Black Tea (8 oz) 25-48
    Green Tea (8 oz) 25-29
    Dark Chocolate (1 oz) 12-30
    Soda (12 oz) 30-70

  9. Avoid Smoking

    Smoking may cause excessively higher cortisol levels. High nicotine exposure can disrupt the natural cortisol rhythm and negatively affect sleep patterns. Quitting smoking is crucial for reducing cortisol levels and managing weight.

What Kind of Supplements Can Lower Cortisol Levels?

Adaptogens like Ashwagandha have been found to lower cortisol levels, particularly morning cortisol levels. Ashwagandha may also impact serotonin and GABA levels, similar to antidepressant medications.

Rhodiola rosea has been found to lower cortisol levels and also help with burnout. However, Rhodiola rosea may interact with certain medications, such as antidepressants and blood thinners. Cortisync by PrimeGenix might also help reduce cortisol levels and improve sleep quality.

However, consultation with a doctor is necessary before starting any supplementation is advised. While these natural ways might help, trying them under expert guidance could ensure what works best for your body and overall health.

Health Problems Of Chronic Stress

  1. Gastrointestinal Problems

    Stress-related gastrointestinal problems are closely linked to the gut-brain axis. Chronic stress may cause irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Symptoms of IBS, such as pain, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation, could be triggered by anxiety.

    Another digestive disorder impacted by stress is gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Stress can worsen GERD symptoms, characterized by acid reflux and heartburn.

  2. Cardiovascular Related Issues

    Chronic stress triggers cortisol hormone release, which could elevate blood pressure levels. Increased blood pressure poses a risk for heart disease and stroke, which can impact cardiovascular health.

    High cortisol levels could harm heart function, leading to an enlarged heart, reduced heart rate variability, and increased inflammation. Such effects may increase the risk of heart problems.

  3. Disruption Of The Endocrine System

    When the body is under chronic stress, the normal functioning of the endocrine system can be disturbed, resulting in hormonal imbalance.

    Elevated cortisol levels might lead to insulin resistance conditions in which the body’s cells become less responsive to the hormone insulin, resulting in impaired blood sugar levels and an increased type 2 diabetes risk.

Side Effects Of High Cortisol Levels

Excessive cortisol levels could adversely affect the body, impacting sleep patterns, mood stability, and weight distribution.

High cortisol levels can interfere with your ability to fall asleep, leading to insomnia or poor sleep quality.

It might make you exhausted, irritable, and unable to function optimally during the day. It could also cause mood instability, irritability, anxiety, and even depression.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can Having a Pet Help Lower Cortisol Levels?
    Interacting with pets promotes relaxation and reduces stress-related cortisol production. They may provide emotional support and contribute to decreased cortisol release.
  2. What Are the Potential Risks Associated With Taking Ashwagandha Supplements?
    Potential risks and precautions associated with taking ashwagandha supplements include interactions with certain medical conditions and medications, possible withdrawal symptoms, and contraindications for pregnant individuals.
  3. How Does Smoking Impact Cortisol Levels?
    Smoking has been found to increase cortisol levels, contributing to stress and potential health risks.
  4. What Are Some Commonly Experienced Health Problems Associated With Chronic Stress?Chronic stress might cause cardiovascular issues, endocrine disruptions, and gastrointestinal problems.


Managing cortisol weight gain requires a multifaceted approach. You may take proactive steps towards reducing cortisol levels and preventing weight gain by implementing lifestyle modifications.

These changes may include stress management, adopting a balanced diet, incorporating regular exercise, and ensuring adequate sleep.

Certain products likeĀ Cortisync may also help lower cortisol levels. However, seeking guidance from a doctor before making significant changes or adding supplements to your routine is essential.

  • The information in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice.
  • It is not recommended to disregard/delay seeking professional medical advice or treatment because of what you read or accessed through this review.
  • The results may vary from individual to individual.
  • It is recommended to consult your doctor for any underlying medical conditions or if you are on any prescribed medicines.

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