There is a very tight correlation between high levels of stress hormones such as cortisol and obesity.
There are also risks of consuming too much proteins at once.
When stress is high, the body produces more cortisol.
Cortisol is the body’s response to stress.
In this newsletter, I want to show you a way to lower cortisol levels.
And it will have the additional benefit of also raising your testosterone levels.
First, it’s important to know that your body considers low blood sugar as stress.
Low blood sugar can be life threatening, so the body secretes cortisol when it happens.
So when the body doesn’t have food for a while, blood sugar will drop.
But because it’s a threat, the body won’t let blood sugar drop too far.
So, in order to maintain blood sugar, your body starts to secrete cortisol.
If you don’t eat for a while, your cortisol levels will continue to rise.
That cortisol then begins to digest your body’s proteins.
And it finds them in your muscles and organs.
But the cortisol uses this protein to produce sugar and restore adequate blood sugar levels.
The big problem here is that the cortisol has just reduced your lean muscle mass.
Less muscle leads to a less efficient metabolism, and easier weight gain.
This is why diets are so harmful.
Because by being hungry all the time, you are raising your cortisol levels chronically.
And so you are causing your body to digest itself to maintain blood sugar.
Each time you diet, you have less muscle, less organ, less lean mass.
Plus, as we age we lose lean mass.
So we certainly don’t want to lose it any faster than we have to.
But we do stupid things like skip breakfast and make it worse.
Cortisol levels are very high in the morning when we wake up because we haven’t eaten in hours.
Skipping breakfast then raises your cortisol levels because the body has to find its fuel another way.
Coritsol is also high just before lunch.
So the first thing we need to do is stop skipping breakfast.
After that, we need to look for more ways to keep cortisol lower.
This study gives us an indication of how we can lower our cortisol levels by eating different foods.
Researchers gave people in the experiment tests of their cortisol using a salivary test.
It’s a way to avoid having to stick someone with needles or draw blood.
Since most people have at least a mild anxiety about needles, drawing blood increases stress — and increases cortisol.
So avoiding these helps to keep the cortisol levels true.
Salivary cortisol tests are fairly reliable, so there is no loss of accuracy.
After taking the baseline cortisol levels for each participant, they broke them into groups.
The researchers gave each group of men and women a different type of meal.
They gave groups a high protein meal, a low-protein meal, or no meal at all.
Then they measured cortisol levels throughout the day.
At the end, researchers found something unexpected.
They found that the high protein meal caused a sustained increase in cortisol compared to any other eating pattern.
And high cortisol levels create a bad mood as well.
The extent of this increase in cortisol correlated significantly with poor psychological well-being.
Most people would have expected the group that hadn’t eaten at all to be the worst off… but that’s not what was found!
So, it’s still a bad idea to skip meals, but it’s actually a worse one to eat too much protein at once.
If you’re going to eat to maintain low cortisol, you don’t want to eat a high protein meal.
You want to eat an adequate amount of protein, and balance it with carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates lower cortisol levels by providing the sugar the body needs to be able to maintain blood sugar without cortisol.
This is also why low-carb diets can be so harmful!
Low-carb diets do not provide nearly enough carbohydrate for the body.
So these low-carb diets are chronically high cortisol diets.
They provide people with high protein which raises cortisol levels, but not providing enough carbohydrate to lower cortisol levels.
It’s better to avoid the high protein, low carb diets completely.
The strategy that I suggest is to eat an adequate amount of carbohydrate with every meal.
That could be orange juice, it could be fruit, or it could be white potatoes or yams.
In some cases, it could be grains for people who tolerate grains well — especially white bread and white rice.
Those tend to be the lowest allergens and the least irritating grains of all.
But whatever you do, avoid too few calories or too much protein at once.