Posted by Stephen Powers

Stephen Powers

Stephen Powers
Diet and Training Coach Extraordinaire

Six Signs You Need to De-Stress


Trouble sleeping? All day anxiety getting the best of you? Feeling like you can't get ahead?

These could all be indicators that you suffer from stress caused by the hormone cortisol. Cortisol can be a great tool when utilized properly (a-la fitness training), but chronic levels of stress can doom your fitness goals from the start. Not only that, but stress can interfere with your general state of happiness. It can ruin friendships, impede career growth, and in general just make your life miserable.

High levels can breakdown muscle tissue, increase plaque in your arteries, and even cause you to gain belly fat at an increased rate. 

Below are 6 signs that you need to get your cortisol levels under control, along with a few helpful hints on how to make that happen.

Sign 1: Trouble Losing Fat

Chronically high levels of stress can have a huge impact on your weight loss journey. Firstly, cortisol increases the hunger hormone ghrelin. This can make it difficult to stick to your diet, no matter how much willpower you have.

Secondly, when high levels of cortisol coincide with insulin, the body converts over to a fat storage machine. Not only does your body store more fat, but it also blocks its own ability to utilize fat as an energy source.

To combat this mechanic, be sure to eat wholesome food. Try to avoid processed and refined foods like sugar, breads, and other man-made foods.


Sign 2: You Have Trouble Sleeping

Elevated stress in the evening can make it impossible to sleep properly. Missing out on a full cycle of REM sleep interferes with the bodies ability to optimally heal and repair itself; likewise, a poor sleep cycle will keep cortisol levels elevated day after day. Breaking this cycle can be difficult, and require a good deal of patience.


The easiest, albeit most tedious, method to reduce stress before sleep is to learn to meditate. Shutoff all electronics, put your phone on airplane mode, and sit quietly. Clear your mind and think peacefully. If you feel your mind straying to problems from earlier in the day, identify that you have strayed and clear your mind again.


Sign 3: Extra belly fat

Correlations have been drawn between elevated cortisol levels and higher abdominal fat. Since belly fat is an easier source of energy compared to other fat stores, this is thought to be a survival mechanism for humans. Since belly fat is easier to utilize, the body will store energy there during periods of stress.


This is where activity can become a powerful tool. Utilizing a high-intensity interval training program can help burn belly fat by improving levels of the enzymes responsible for the fat burning process.


Sign 4: Your anxiety is always high

Feeling stressed from time to time is perfectly normal, and in fact, a requirement for healthy body function; however, feeling stressed the majority of your day is a sure fire sign that your health is in danger.

Feeling like there is no peace in your life leads to improper use of your hypothalamus and pituitary glands. This can halt fat burning, decrease sleep quality, and lower your overall happiness in life.


Among the previous solutions discussed here, supplementation can be a powerful tool. Try supplementing with magnesium, Vitamin C, and taurine. All of these work, through various pathways in the body, to reduce your stress, and help you feel calm.


Sign 5: Poor Digestion

Digestion can take a huge hit when cortisol is elevated constantly. This is because stress causes your body to release histamine, a chemical that activates the immune system. Extra histamine in the body increases gastric acid to be released, which can interfere with the guts ability to process and absorb nutrients.


Resolution here comes in the form of fiber and probiotics. Foods high in probiotics have an anti-inflammatory effect, helping to heal the intestinal lining. Fiber helps to feed this healthy bacteria and improves movement through the intestinal tract, ensuring you are clean and ready for optimum nutrient absorption. 


Sign 6: Cravings, lots of them

Carbohydrate cravings are essentially your bodies way of fueling more cortisol production. The carbohydrates you consume provide the raw material required for this hormone production, so it can be a vicious cycle.


To break the cycle, be sure to eat a diet high in protein to help keep your cravings in check. Be sure to check out the Uprise Nutrition line of WHEY PROTEINS to help you combat these cravings, and get back on the right track!