Having a spike in cortisol is fine in the short term. It keeps us alert, and mobilizes energy quickly. However, if it is spiked all day every day, it ends up doing the opposite to save you. It doesn’t want to burn through all your energy, so instead it conserves and will chew through muscle instead.
The best way to mitigate this is to prioritize sleep. You NEED to be getting 7-9 hours if you aren’t already. Also, isn’t sleep the best? Why aren’t we creating routines around the most relaxing thing in our lives to do? Make sure not to eat anything 1-2 hours before bed, minimizing your contact with artificial light (which keeps your body alert), and to do things that help you relax and wind down.
For those stuck in a permanent diet where they are doing cardio 5-6 days a week, and more than 30 minutes a day of cardio, and eating less than 1500 calories STOP! This is unnecessary stress. Keeping that up won’t maintain your physique, and in fact will slow the metabolism down, causing it to hold onto the fat to restore balance. Bring it down to 2-3 days of cardio, and slowly introduce calories back in to rev up your metabolism.
Be More Aware Of Your Nutrition
We all know on some level that you need to be expending more calories than you are taking in to lose weight. However, that can still seem too broad. It’s easy to struggle with knowing what to eat, how much to eat, which foods are good, and which are bad.
I don’t expect you to track calories (although that’s totally fine and easier to quantify if you do). For most clients, I love to keep it simple. Try your best to eat less (not completely eliminate) processed foods, and include more whole foods. The reason I say it like that is because the moment you tell someone NOT to eat something (especially a food they love), it’s going to be all they think about. Also, we only have one life and those foods aren’t so bad they should be forever forbidden from your life.
Just try to reduce it because the studies show when people eat mostly processed foods, it causes them to eat 500 MORE calories than sticking to whole foods. It should be no surprise those foods are DESIGNED to be overconsumed whereas whole foods give us a true fullness signal. This can be a problem if you are trying to lose weight. The silver lining is 500 calories removed, is all you need to create a deficit to start a fat loss journey and you didn’t even have to track. Just focus on satiating whole foods like proteins (meats, chicken, fish), vegetables, and fibrous carbs that will keep you satiated (oatmeal, quinoa, beans, lentils).
Veggies are super filling but do not have many calories so it would be extremely hard to overeat vegetables from a caloric standpoint, so load your plate up! Protein is a fat burning nutrient. It is the most filling macro you can eat, it’s necessary for the repairing of muscles and making them get bigger, and it has a high thermic effect (meaning it uses 30% of its calories just to break itself down!). All this in mind, if you keep your protein and veggies on the higher side, you’ll be losing weight in no time.
Don’t Be Afraid of Lifting Weights!
When you add resistance training, you send a signal to breakdown muscle tissue which then needs to be repaired. When you lift weights regularly, with progressive overload, you are sending a signal to your body to add muscle which NEEDS calories to grow. Cardio on the other hand, tells your body to use LESS calories to adapt.
Train to build muscle even if that isn’t your goal. By always trying to build muscle, you are helping increase your metabolism at rest. The more muscle you have on your frame, the more calories you expend just standing there! Build that fat burning machine! It doesn’t take much either. All you need to do is go to the gym 2-3 times a week and that is more than enough stimulus to prime you for growth. Again, make sure your program has progressive overload, good form, and control. Seeing your numbers go up week to week is the surest way to know what you are doing in the gym is working. If you are getting stronger, don’t change anything.