In May (Part 1 – Estrogen Dominance) and June (Part 2 – Hunger Hormones) I started writing about the chemical functions of your body and how manipulating your lifestyle, diet and exercise correctly can exponentially increase your health, fat loss and fitness goals.

The third hormone that plays a major role in effecting our health, fat loss and fitness is Cortisol. If you find it extremely hard to lose fat around your midsection or have stubborn fat stores hanging on around the belly button you most likely have an issue with cortisol.

What is cortisol?
Cortisol is classified as our stress hormone. It is much more than this and in the right amounts is essential for correct bodily function. Cortisol’s many functions include helping the body use sugar (glucose) and fat for energy, gets us up and moving in the morning and helps the body manage stress. The problem is again when there is too much or an imbalance. Cortisol acts as our bodies ‘jet fuel’ turning on our ‘fight or flight’ responses, an essential process for survival. However, cortisol is a catabolic (breaking down) hormone and if we over produce can create serious health issues.

Quality sleep
Charles Poliquin, a world leading health coach, states that getting just one hour less sleep per night than you need will alter the activity of the hypothalamus and result in higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

A hundred years ago we used to sleep for an average of nine to 11 hours per night, two to four hours more than the six or seven hour average of this era.

Correct Cardio: The fact is that long bouts of cardio training at a moderate to high intensity (‘chronic cardio’) are counterproductive for fat loss. ‘Chronic cardio’ does not stimulate an anabolic hormone response to counteract the catabolic process of cortisol. When an individual lifts weights or sprints they put their body under stress, producing cortisol but these activities also generate the production of anabolic hormones that encourage growth, repair and fat burning.

Breaking the cortisol (stress) cycle is essential to optimizing your results and returning your body to a restorative and homeostasis state. De-stress by doing yoga and meditation, have regular massages, eat antioxidant-rich foods, consume adequate omega-3 fatty acids and laugh a lot.

Phil is a health practitioner and expert in body transformation. His services are available at Star Fitness (, online or at your home. Contact him though his website or