3 sneaky ways cortisol causes weight gain and how to manage it
Cortisol can increase our appetite through increase in ghrelin production3, our “hunger hormone”. If we expend the same amount of energy as usual, but eat more food due to increased hunger signals, this can negatively impact weight loss efforts.
We may not notice this change because we eat at the same level of “fullness” as usual, without realizing that we are consuming slightly more than usual.
Cortisol also stimulates release Neuropeptide Y4, a neurotransmitter that promotes cravings for foods high in calories, sugar, refined carbohydrates, and fat. Consumption of carbohydrates stimulates the release of serotonin5one of our ‘happy hormones’, making them especially appealing during times of stress and anxiety.
Prolonged exposure to high cortisol levels can affect the function of the thyroid gland6, which plays a crucial role in the regulation of metabolism. Chronically elevated levels of cortisol can prevent the conversion of inactive thyroid hormone (T4) into its active form (T3), resulting in a decrease in metabolic rate.