By Zach Columbia BS, NASM
If you’re eating right and working out, but still not losing weight, it might be a good time to ask yourself one question; when was the last time you were huh…hmmm, “in the mood?” A healthy sex drive is a good indication of balanced hormones, while a poor sex drive may indicate an imbalance in hormones.
Here’s the science. Pregnenolone is a steroidal hormone synthesized from cholesterol. Pregnenolone is the grand precursor from which almost all of the other steroid hormones are made; including DHEA, progesterone, testosterone, the estrogens, and cortisol. So, ultimately, our body takes pregnenolone and either turns it in to progesterone, which then becomes cortisol (the stress hormone); or it takes pregnenolone and turns it into DHEA, which then becomes testosterone and estrogen (the sex hormones).
Okay, before I lose you… cortisol and the hormones that put you “in the mood” have an inverse relationship. Our body can only produce so much pregnenolone. If you’re stressed out, your brain will tell your body to convert pregnenolone into cortisol, which means that the hormones that make you want to get freaky will be neglected.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, what does all this have to do with losing weight? Well, elevated cortisol levels and chronic stress can affect every physiological system in your body, including your thyroid and adrenal glands. It can make you anxious and irritable, lead to weight gain and bone loss, contribute to diabetes, heart disease risk, and deplete your energy levels. When cortisol gets too high, it puts you into a “fight or flight” response, which stimulates your sympathetic nervous system and your adrenal glands. When this occurs, there is a decrease in your digestive secretions and an increase in blood pressure. This puts your body in a state of constant stress, which will burn out your adrenal glands, stress your digestive tract and cause you to age more rapidly. Oh and of course, keep you from being in the mood too.
So how do you prevent your body from making so much cortisol and get it to start making more of the good stuff? Well first off, it’s important to remember that cortisol is a good thing. It helps us deal with stress. Its only when we have too much stress that there becomes a problem. This type of stress could be from more than just work. Poor diet and exposure to environmental toxins causes oxidative stress that will increase cortisol levels as well as emotional and mental stress. Here are my tips for naturally lowering cortisol, which will lead to weight loss and of course, a healthy sex drive:
- Don’t over work – Working an excess amount is not only stressful, but causes you to neglect important aspects of your health. When work starts interfering with your health, it’s time to put things in perspective and set some boundaries.
- Get enough sleep – Not getting enough sleep puts an enormous amount of stress on you physically and mentally. Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning.
- Eat a healthy diet – A poor diet places stress on your digestive tract and organs. Focus on a high fat, high fiber diet to support a stressed out body.
- Don’t under eat – Not eating enough calories will only add stress and cause your body to retain fat. Eat enough food, but make sure it’s the right kind of food.
- Lift Weights – When people want to lose weight and don’t have much time they do cardio. Doing cardio will cause those cortisol levels to rise even more. Devote 45 minutes, 3-4 times a week to lift weights, which will actually help lower your cortisol and raise testosterone levels.
- Unplug and unwind – Make some time each week to chill. Notice I said “make time.” You’ll never find time, you have to set aside some down time. Doing so might make you feel like you’re wasting time because you have so much to do, but it will be worth it.
A weight lifting program and healthy diet can help you reduce stress and lose weight. Contact us today to learn how!