Lowering Cortisol to Curb Your Appetite

Here’s a long overdue relevant article on reducing your cortisol levels to curb your appetite…

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-Induced Hunger

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!

2 thoughts on “Lowering Cortisol to Curb Your Appetite

  1. Emily Tellez

    Great article! Thanks for all the valuable information. Do you know if there is a device to test your cortisol levels at home the way diabetics test their blood sugar levels?

    1. Aileen Finch Post author

      Great question Emily!
      There are at-home saliva test that you can use to measure your cortisol levels.

      Cortisol is a steroid that is produced in the adrenal gland. It is typically produced as a response to stress. The actions of this steroid are responsible for bringing the body back into its proper shape after a period of stress has been endured. Like most substances that are helpful over a short duration, a prolonged exposure to cortisol produces symptoms that are those experienced by people who undergo extended periods of stress. For such individuals, relaxation techniques are required to reduce cortisol production which will calm the individual down.

      Cortisol production is controlled by the brain which secretes a chemical known as Adrenocorticotropic hormone. This hormone stimulates the adrenal gland into action. It is possible for the gland to be unresponsive which can be one of the causes of deficient cortisol production. It is also possible for the hormone secretion to be ineffective in quantity to properly stimulate the gland.

      It is possible to conduct a cortisol test at home. This is a test conducted using one’s saliva which is the sample body fluid used to test for cortisol. Cortisol tends to be elevated in the morning and its level diminishes through the day. This is the normal way in which cortisol spreads across the body. In a person suffering from cortisol problems, this sequence or pattern tends to be jumbled and not well defined. The cortisol test at home is conducted with the help of a laboratory test. The sample collection is the only phase of the test that is actually conducted at home. These samples are collected through the day and each sample should be accurately marked depending on time of day of collection. Following all the instructions of the test kit, one can send the samples to the accredited laboratory and have them analyzed for cortisol.

      The results of a cortisol test are indicated in the form of a numerical value which is the concentration of cortisol in the saliva. While the test can be conducted at home, it is not advisable for the test results to be analyzed at home. This job should be left to a doctor who is trained to interpret the numbers. The advantage of the home test is that it gives a person confirmation that there is something abnormal which can then be used as a reason to visit a doctor. A cortisol test at home is much less accurate than one conducted in a clinical environment on the blood or urine.


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