Cortisol Control

Pat Frock

Springfield Health & Fitness


In a perfect world we would always lose weight in a neat orderly manner.

We would do our daily exercises, follow our meal plans and wake up a little lighter and leaner every morning.  On we would go until we have our washboard abs.  We would then celebrate with our cheat meal with our friends and all would be right with the world

Unfortunately, it usually doesn’t work out that way.

Weight loss can be quite erratic. You can sit at the same weight for several weeks and then lose 3 or 4 pounds overnight.

How is that possible? As long as you maintain a daily caloric deficit your body is going to mobilize fat stores so why not a linear weight loss?

If you lose a pound of fat in one week it can be obscured both on the scale and in the mirror by an extra pound of water that your body is holding.

While daily fluctuations in the amount of water your drink and sodium you eat account for most of the water you retain. Simply being in a caloric deficit can cause water retention.  A major reason for this is the fact that it raises cortisol levels, which in turn increase fluid retention.

To get your cortisol under control, try these tactics

  • Cut back on exercise. Exercise raises cortisol levels and when combined with a low calorie diet can be a double whammy of cortisol for your body. Reduce the intensity for a week or so until your body gets back to normal
  • Make sure you haven’t cut your calories too much. Bring yourself to a 500 calorie deficit to avoid the cortisol issues that come with greater caloric restrictions.
  • Get more sleep. Not getting enough sleep can result in elevated cortisol levels later in the day. Try for 7 or 8 hours
  • Chill out. You can reduce cortisol levels by simply taking some time each day to relax, listen to music, drink herbal tea or do some deep breathing.   Getting a massage or a leisurely stroll can help as well.