Stress hormone cortisol: the danger of elevated levels

A decrease in testosterone, a decrease in muscle mass against the background of an accelerated increase in body fat are the consequences of increased levels of cortisol. Recognize and eliminate an overabundance of this hormone in a timely manner means to regain good physical shape and avoid many health problems.


  • 1 Function of cortisol
  • 2 Consequences of Elevated Cortisol Levels
  • 3 Why Cortisol Levels Increase "> 4 Signs of Increased Cortisol
  • 5 How to reduce high cortisol?
  • 6 Conclusion

Cortisol function

This hormone, also called stress hormone, helps the body mobilize energy in an emergency situation. Its action is based on increasing adrenaline, which allows you to switch consciousness and completely focus on a source of danger, a change in metabolism so that glucose becomes more accessible.

Starvation, excessive use of coffee, stress and other negative factors are perceived by cortisol as a dangerous situation, as a result of which its level remains constantly high. A chronic excess of stress hormone exhausts the body, causing various problems with well-being and health.

Consequences of Elevated Cortisol Levels

Against the background of a consistently high hormone indicator, the following changes occur:

  1. Muscle mass decreases. The body begins to synthesize energy from muscle tissue, and not from carbohydrates and fats that come with food.
  2. Increases fat mass. Sugar can temporarily reduce cortisol. A person constantly wants sweets, which provokes overeating and weight gain.
  3. The stomach is growing. Increased cortisol causes the accumulation of fatty deposits on the stomach. These fats push forward the muscles under which they are laid, forming a belly that gives the silhouette an apple shape.
  4. Type 2 diabetes develops. Cortisol reduces the production of insulin, triggers the release of glucose due to the breakdown of muscle tissue. The result of these processes is a double increase in blood sugar.
  5. Testosterone levels are reduced. The higher the cortisol, the lower the testosterone.
  6. The protective functions of the body worsen. Cortisol demonstrates an anti-inflammatory effect, the prolonged effect of which begins to depress the immune system.
  7. The risks of cardiovascular pathologies are increasing. The body on the background of high cortisol works to the limit, which can cause a heart attack, stroke.
  8. Osteoporosis develops. An increased concentration of cortisol worsens the absorption of calcium and collagen, slows down regenerative functions, and increases bone fragility.

Why is cortisol elevated?

There are four reasons for the chronically high concentration of the hormone in the body:

  1. Starvation. When the body does not receive nutrients from the outside, glucose levels drop sharply, and cortisol production rises.
  2. Stress. Forces the body to use all available energy to exit this situation. Cortisol helps to cope with this. And if in the short-term period of time this has a positive effect, then with a long duration it is simply exhausting.
  3. Doing sports. Any manifestation of physical activity introduces the body into a certain stress. The longer and more often the workout, the higher cortisol rises.
  4. Coffee. Drinking a cup of this drink for several hours increases the concentration of cortisol by about 30%. If coffee and similar stimulants are drunk constantly, the level of the hormone rolls to the maximum. Stresses and a constant lack of sleep aggravate the situation.

Signs of Increased Cortisol

The following symptoms allow you to recognize a high concentration of the hormone:

  1. Weight gain. When fat mass rises even with a carefully balanced diet and regular training, then the level of cortisol is increased.
  2. Rapid pulse. Arterial constriction due to high cortisol increases the heart rate even at rest.
  3. Constant nervousness. Being a stress hormone, cortisol provokes nervous tension.
  4. Decreased libido and potency problems. They are the result of a decrease in testosterone concentration against the background of high cortisol.
  5. Disorders in the intestines. Stress hormone destabilizes the absorption of food, which causes colitis, bloating, diarrhea.
  6. Frequent urination and sweating. Cortisol not only speeds up urination, but also increases the excretion of minerals and salts through sweat glands.
  7. Insomnia with a depressive state. Nervousness and weight gain caused by cortisol adversely affect sleep and can cause depression.

How to lower high cortisol ">

To keep your stress hormone under control, you must:

  1. Spend a maximum of 45-60 minutes training. Hourly physical activity is the optimal time for classes to prevent a sharp increase in cortisol.
  2. Consume carbohydrates with BCAA . To minimize the production of cortisol, just drink a drink of 5 grams of BCAA amino acids and 20 grams of any simple carbohydrates.
  3. Eat on a special diet. It is necessary to minimize the consumption of alcohol, coffee and other stimulants, to increase the amount of useful fatty acids and low-GI carbohydrates. Such a diet will reduce inflammation and the need for the synthesis of stress hormone.
  4. Take supplements to lower the concentration of cortisol. After anaerobic training, you can drink magnesium. Phosphatidylserine also reduces cortisol, but causes difficulty in determining the dosage.
  5. Be able to withstand stress. Develop this ability allow meditation and yoga.
  6. Laugh more. Good mood and laughter are factors that help to significantly reduce the level of stress hormone.


A high concentration of cortisol is fraught with the development of a chronic depressive state, an increase in body fat mass, especially on the stomach, and a decrease in testosterone. To reduce the concentration of the hormone, it is necessary to take a whole range of measures, which, first of all, involves the fight against stress.