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Sugar vs fat — which one produces more harmful cortisol?
Cortisol is essential for human life.
But many of cortisol’s actions are emergency backup mechanisms.
Chronic, high cortisol is not something the body does well with.
Elevated cortisol causes diabetes, “beer gut”/cortisol belly, dementia, memory problems, sleep disturbances, rapid aging, and muscle wasting.
There are a small number of things you need to keep an eye on in order to keep your cortisol levels in check.
A number of human experiments have pointed out that high-fat diets increase cortisol levels — even (perhaps especially) when people are dieting.
The human research was carried out at Queen’s Medical Research Institute, University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom.
The results were published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
The content of food can be broken down into a number of different components.
The components of food which energy can be directly derived from are called micronutrients — these are fat, carbohydrate, and protein.
Everyone agrees that macronutrients can affect health — but there is great disagreement as to which ones cause harm and benefit.
Fat in the diet affects cortisol and other related hormones.
Hormones which, when chronically elevated, can have serious implications for health.
The family of hormones which cortisol belongs to are called glucocorticoids.
“Dietary fat alters the glucocorticoid metabolism in rodents and acutely in humans.”
This study was designed to see the long-term effects of dietary fat intake on cortisol in men.
“Whether longer-term differences in dietary macronutrients affect cortisol metabolism in humans and contribute to the tissue-specific dysregulation of cortisol metabolism in obesity is unknown.”
Cortisol is one of the most problematic hormones for men — alongside estrogen.
The study recruited 23 obese men. 17 men took part in two different dietary experiments, each lasting four weeks.
The men were randomly put on either a high-fat diet (66% fat) or a moderate fat diet (35%).
The experimental diets were weight loss diets — the men were given fewer calories than they needed to maintain weight.
These 17 men lived on either the high-fat or moderate fat diet for four weeks each with some time in between each experiment.
Another six obese men were put high fat or moderate fat diets but without any caloric restriction.
The researchers then carried out detailed assessment of cortisol metabolism at the end of each four-week dietary period.
One way to look at cortisol levels is by measuring the activity of the enzyme which creates cortisol — 11beta-HSD1.
Higher 11beta-HSD1 means that the body is making more cortisol.
The high-fat diet increased the enzyme which creates cortisol.
“High fat low carbohydrate diet but not the moderate fat moderate carbohydrate diet increased 11beta-HSD1.”
Cortisol itself was also increased with the high-fat low carbohydrate diet.
“High fat low carbohydrate diet increased the rate of appearance of cortisol.”
Another way to look at cortisol levels is to test the amount of cortisol and metabolites excreted in urine.
The high-fat low-carb diet led to less cortisol leaving the body in the urine.
“The high fat low carbohydrate diet reduced urinary excretion of cortisol metabolites.”
The men made more cortisol and lost less cortisol on the high fat lower carbohydrate diet.
The men lost weight in both dietary experiments — this happens with short-term caloric restriction.
But the increases in cortisol will certainly lead to other health problems.
“A low-carbohydrate diet alters cortisol metabolism independently of weight loss. In obese men, this enhances cortisol regeneration by 11beta-HSD1 and reduces cortisol inactivation.”
One of the functions of cortisol is to turn precious muscle into sugar.
Some parts of the body like the brain and the heart require sugar all the time.
When you eat high-fat, low carbohydrate, you don’t get enough sugar in your diet to feed your body.
When this happens, cortisol increases — it is needed to break muscle protein down into sugar.
This is one of the reasons why a high-fat, low carbohydrate diet leads to chronically elevated cortisol and health problems like diabetes, dementia, memory problems, and muscle wasting.
High fat diets increase cortisol — a major reason to avoid them.
“Alterations in cortisol metabolism may be a consequence of macronutrient dietary content and may mediate effects of diet on metabolic health.”
—-Important Message About Eating Sugar—-
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Do you know what eventually happens to men who only burn fat and not sugar?
Their metabolic rate plummets…and then come the side effects…
Diabetes symptoms first…
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Dietary macronutrient content alters cortisol metabolism independently of body weight changes in obese men.