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Home » Weight Gain, Foggy Brain, and Fatigue: Could it be Cortisol?

Have you been experiencing frustrating weight gain, brain fog, and relentless fatigue, no matter how hard you try to combat them? Well, here’s a thought: It might just be cortisol wreaking havoc on your body. Stress isn’t just about worry or anxiety—it can take many forms, physical, chemical, or emotional. The key to finding a solution lies in understanding the root cause. In this blog, we’ll delve into the consequences of high cortisol levels and explore actionable steps to resolve this hormonal imbalance.

The Relationship Between Stress and Cortisol:

The Relationship Between Stress and Cortisol

Let’s get to the bottom of the stress-cortisol connection. When stress strikes, our bodies release cortisol, “the stress hormone.” While cortisol serves an important role in our stress response, chronic stress can lead to persistently high cortisol levels, 1which come with a lot of adverse effects:

  1. Sleep Disruptions: High cortisol levels can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep. Many people wake up at 3-4 AM and stare at the clock getting anxious because they can’t go back to sleep? They wake up tired then feeling wired but tired and run out of steam in the late afternoon.2 The peaks and valleys in their energy levels further compound the impact of stress and they rely on caffeine and sugar to get through the day which only makes things worse.
  2. Mood Swings and Anxiety: Elevated cortisol can turn emotions into a wild rollercoaster ride. Brace yourself for mood swings, irritability, and heightened anxiety. 3You may find yourself restless, with racing thoughts, and an ever-present feeling of being on edge or snapping at someone then feeling guilty about it. It seems everything bothers you when you are tired and/or anxious or under pressure.
  3. Weight Gain and Cravings: If you’ve been struggling with stubborn weight gain and relentless cravings for sugary and high-fat foods, blame it on cortisol. High levels of this hormone are associated with increased abdominal fat deposition and an insatiable desire for unhealthy treats.
  4. Weakened Immune System: Chronic stress and elevated cortisol levels can spell trouble for your immune system. Prepare to be more susceptible to infections and illnesses as your body’s natural defense system takes a hit.4

Action Steps:

Now that we’ve identified the issues, let’s explore actionable steps to tackle high cortisol levels head-on:

  1. Find and Address the Root Cause: Take a moment to self-assess or consult a functional medicine physician who can guide you. Is your stress physical, chemical, or emotional? Identifying and addressing the root cause is essential for managing cortisol levels and restoring balance to your mood, energy, weight, and overall mental and metabolic function.
  2. Harness the Power of Adaptogenic Herbs: Adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha, schizandra, Eleuthera, holy basil, and Relora can be incredibly helpful in managing cortisol levels. However, exercise caution with ginseng and licorice—they should only be used if cortisol levels are low and if you have normal blood pressure. Determine the most suitable adrenal formulas for you by testing cortisol levels through a 4 point saliva test that measures cortisol upon awakening, noon, 4-5 PM and prior to bed.
  3. Practice Stress Management Techniques: Don’t underestimate the power of stress management. Explore various techniques such as mindfulness meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or engaging in hobbies that bring you joy. Find what works for you and make it a regular part of your routine.

Practice Stress Management Techniques

Ready to Optimize Your Hormones?

If you suspect high cortisol levels or other hormone imbalances, it’s time to take control. Discover which hormones need your focus by taking Gain valuable insights and receive tips on optimizing your hormones, so you can embrace a life that’s slim, sharp, sexy, and supercharged!

  1. Chrousos GP. Stress and disorders of the stress system. Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2009;5(7):374-381. doi:10.1038/nrendo.2009.106
  2. Hirotsu C, Tufik S, Andersen ML. Interactions between sleep, stress, and metabolism: From physiological to pathological conditions. Sleep Sci. 2015;8(3):143-152. doi:10.1016/j.slsci.2015.09.002
  3. Kumar A, Rinwa P, Kaur G, Machawal L. Stress: Neurobiology, consequences and management. J Pharm Bioallied Sci. 2013;5(2):91-97. doi:10.4103/0975-7406.111818
  4. Vitlic A, Lord JM, Phillips AC. Stress, ageing and their influence on functional, cellular and molecular aspects of the immune system. Age Dordr Neth. 2014;36(3):9631. doi:10.1007/s11357-014-9631-6

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