Hey there, Im Tafiq Akhir America’s Healthy Lifestyle Coach and the creator of Diet Free Academy.
In an episode I shared a few weeks ago I talked about adrenal fatigue. In that episode I spoke a little about cortisol.
In todays episode Im going in more detail and I’ll explain how having too much cortisol can lead to excess belly fat and poor health. And I’ll go over how healthy cortisol levels affect the body during our 24-hour biological clock.
Cortisol is a very powerful hormone. Some have even called it the master of all hormones. Keeping your cortisol levels balanced is very important not only to minimize your waistline but also to maintain good health.
Cortisol’s primary responsibilities include aiding in the metabolization of protein, carbohydrates and fats, regulating blood sugar and as I mentioned in the episode about adrenal fatigue…it helps to managing stress.
The key here is MANAGING stress. The caveat is that the longer your body is in a stressed state. And that could be any type of stress whether it be physical, mental or emotional. The longer the cortisol is active as well. This will in turn cause your cortisol levels to become out of balance. And this is what ultimately leads to the adrenal fatigue I spoke of before. Not to mention other issues that include things like cravings for sweets and starchy carbs, excess belly fat - which also puts you at risk for diabetes and heart disease…there’s also sleep problems, infertility, mood swings, excess hair growth, chronic fatigue and skin problems.
Let me just say that the function of cortisol is to kick in when our stress levels increase. It is actually an extremely important and natural response to stress. We need it to happen - its the main component of our fight or flight response. But the stress has to subside so that cortisol levels remain healthy. Cortisol works best in small doses…not prolonged periods of time.
When cortisol levels are balanced and working as they should naturally. Our bodies should produce cortisol at different times of day based on what I call our personal 24 hour healthy biological clock. On this clock the highest levels would be in the morning - congruent with sunrise and daylight… with the levels dropping as the day goes on in preparation for sleep.
Here’s a break down of what should be happening in your body during a typical 24 hour cycle.
For those of you who are early risers …if you start their day with a well balanced meal this will ensure that you maintain good energy and health throughout the first part of your day. By doing so the sharpest rise in blood pressure should happen in the early morning. Within an hour or two Melatonin will dissipate and you should also have your first bowel movement.
Around mid morning is when the body typically has it’s highest natural boost of testosterone and late morning is typically the highest level of alertness.
When you continue your healthy living trend by consuming a healthy balanced lunch you will continue to thrive with sustainable energy and experience your fastest reaction times and best coordination between mid and late afternoon.
Early evening will produce your best muscle strength and most effective cardiovascular capabilities.
If you continue your healthy lifestyle into the evening and eat a well balanced dinner by mid-evening you’ll have your highest body temperature and blood pressure.
By late evening melatonin will begin to kick in preparing you to fall asleep. Melatonin is another hormone that affects your energy and sleep habits. Healthy levels of melatonin ensures that you’ll have a good nights sleep.
A few hours later you should be in a deep restful sleep and the next day your 24 hour healthy biological clock starts again.
If your personal 24 hour healthy biological clock is not responding in a somewhat similar way as I just described. There is a high probability that your cortisol level are not balanced.
Along with the things I mentioned earlier if you aren’t sleepy at bed time or feel wired AND tired at the same time that’s a sign of out of balanced cortisol levels. Or if you are unable to relax and fall asleep at bed time.
But the great thing is that you can reset your 24 hour healthy biological clock and get your body and cortisol levels back into balance.
Here are 5 things you can do starting today!
1. Stay consistent. Be sure to go to bed and wake up at the same time everyday. Be diligent about this. The more consistent you are the more effective you’ll be at maintaining a healthy sleep schedule which will balance your cortisol levels and keep your 24 hour biological clock in a healthy mode.
2. Manage your stress. Managing your stress could be all you need in order to balance your cortisol.
For all my ladies reading it is extremely important for you to focus on stress management. Study after study has found that women have poorer sleep habits than men. And it is primarily due to anxiety and worry…. which are two forms of stress.
The studies also found that women are more likely to suffer from insomnia than men…also based on anxiety and worry.
To help deal with stress better think of these things…What is it that’s stressing you out the most. Is it something that you can change? If so, do what you need to do to change it.
What are 2 things you can start doing today in order to reduce that stressor.
And if it’s something you cannot change …then why are you stressing about something you have no control over.
If it is truly something that you have no power over and that you cannot get away from or change the dynamic of it … then just surrender to it.
Don’t let it bring you down. If you cant manage or reduce it…simply embrace it
3. Avoid naps. If your sleep cycle and 24 hour biological clock is off you don’t want to keep them off by sleeping in the afternoon. Resists naps because they can make it more challenging to fall asleep at night.
4. Eat carbs wisely. For those of you that consume starchy and simple carbs it’s best to eat them earlier in the day.. Those are the carbs that spike blood sugar and prepare the body for activity.
As your day winds down you will become less active as you get closer to bed time. So, energy boosting foods are not needed and can actually keep you more wound up rather than winding down at bedtime.
5. Light your day wisely. Your 24 hour healthy biological clock is partially controlled by light. It’s the natural way of things . So early in the morning brighten things up. Open the blinds and turn on the lights.
As evening comes and you get ready for bed… dim the lights. Once you’re in bed darken the room to help promote a deeper sleep.
I hope the information I shared today will help you to maintain healthy cortisol levels and if you’re suffering from cortisol levels that are out of balance…. I hope you’ll implement some of the tools I shared today to help you lose weight , improve your health and balance your your cortisol.