Why Killing Yourself in the Gym Could Be Doing more Harm Than Good

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Why Killing Yourself in the Gym Could Be Doing more Harm Than Good

Discover the 10 telltale signs of high cortisol levels and learn how to naturally balance them for better health and well-being.

A woman with high cortisol working out

If you’ve been diligent about your fitness routine, mindful of your diet, and feel like you're doing everything right, yet you cannot lose weight whatsoever…

Or perhaps sleep is a constant frustration, with the struggle to fall asleep or those 3 AM awakenings becoming too frequent… 

Or maybe your digestive system seems to have a mind of its own, subjecting you to discomfort, bloating, and even stomach cramps that leave you constantly questioning your health.

… high cortisol levels might be the hidden culprit behind your symptoms.

Living with elevated cortisol levels can feel like an unending battle against your own body and mind. Despite doing “all the right things,” you often feel stuck, exhausted, and like you don’t have control over your health.

In this article, we're talking about all things cortisol: 

  • what it is
  • how too much is a bad thing
  • the telltale signs you might have excess levels 
  • how you should and should NOT be exercising
  • the foods to eat
  • low-cortisol lifestyle tips

Whether you’re just noticing you may have a cortisol issue, or you’ve been working towards lowering your levels for a while, we hope this article helps shine some light on areas in which you can make some healthy adjustments.

What is Cortisol, Anyway?

When you're under stress, your body produces a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol increases the amount of glucose in your bloodstream to help fuel your body in the event of a “fight or flight” situation. 

Cortisol also suppresses insulin production, which prevents cells from getting the nutrients they need. This triggers hunger signals to be sent to your brain which can lead to hunger, overeating, and weight gain.

10 Signs You Have High Cortisol

1. Weight Gain

High cortisol levels can contribute to weight gain, particularly around the abdominal area. This phenomenon is often referred to as “stress belly” or “cortisol belly.” When cortisol levels are consistently elevated, it can lead to an increase in appetite and cravings for high-calorie, comfort foods. 

Cortisol can also promote the storage of fat, especially visceral fat, which is the fat that accumulates around the organs in the abdominal cavity. This type of fat is associated with an increased risk of various health conditions, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

2. Trouble Sleeping

Elevated cortisol levels can disrupt the body's natural sleep-wake cycle, making it difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep, or experience restful sleep. Cortisol follows a daily rhythm, typically peaking in the early morning to help wake you up and gradually decreasing throughout the day. 

However, chronic stress or irregular cortisol patterns can lead to elevated cortisol levels at night, interfering with the production of melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep. This disruption in cortisol and melatonin can result in insomnia and poor sleep quality.

An old woman struggling with anxiety and depression from high cortisol

3. Anxiety & Depression

High levels of chronic stress and elevated cortisol have been linked to increased feelings of anxiety and depression. Cortisol plays a role in the body's “fight or flight” response to stress. 

Prolonged activation of this response can lead to imbalances in neurotransmitters and contribute to mood disorders. Additionally, high cortisol levels can impact the function of the hippocampus, a region of the brain associated with regulating emotions and memory.

4. High Blood Pressure

Cortisol can affect blood pressure regulation through its interactions with the cardiovascular system. It can lead to vasoconstriction (narrowing of blood vessels) and an increase in heart rate, both of which contribute to elevated blood pressure. 

Prolonged exposure to high cortisol levels can contribute to hypertension (high blood pressure), which is a risk factor for heart disease and other cardiovascular complications.

5. Impaired Immune Function

Excessive cortisol can suppress the immune system's activity. While cortisol is an important part of the body's response to inflammation and stress, chronic elevation can weaken the immune system's ability to fight off infections and illnesses. 

This can lead to a higher susceptibility to common infections and slower recovery from illnesses.

6. Digestive Issues

Elevated cortisol levels can impact the digestive system in multiple ways. Stress and cortisol can lead to decreased blood flow to the digestive organs, which can contribute to issues such as indigestion, bloating, and discomfort. 

Chronic stress can also disrupt the balance of gut bacteria, potentially exacerbating digestive problems. Conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can be triggered or worsened by chronic stress and high cortisol levels.

Older woman dealing with brain fog and cognitive changes from high cortisol

7. Cognitive Changes

Chronic stress and elevated cortisol have been associated with impaired memory, decreased attention span, brain fog, and difficulties with decision-making. Many women will experience a version of this when they have children. It's commonly referred to as either “pregnancy brain” or “mom brain.”

Cortisol can impact the hippocampus, a brain region important for memory formation and cognitive function, leading to changes in neural connectivity.

8. Muscle Weakness

Cortisol is involved in breaking down muscle tissue, a process known as catabolism. While this is a normal part of the body's response to stress, chronic elevation of cortisol can lead to excessive muscle breakdown, contributing to muscle weakness and a decrease in muscle mass. 

This effect can be particularly relevant for individuals who engage in intense and prolonged exercise without adequate recovery.

9. Skin Problems

High cortisol levels can lead to increased oil production in the skin, contributing to acne. Additionally, cortisol can impair collagen production, leading to thinning of the skin and delayed wound healing. This can make the skin more susceptible to damage and slower to recover from injuries.

10. Menstrual Irregularities

Too much cortisol can disrupt the delicate balance of hormones in the body, potentially affecting the menstrual cycle in women. Irregular periods, missed periods, or even amenorrhea (absence of periods) can occur as a result of hormonal imbalances caused by chronic stress and elevated cortisol levels.

The most accurate way to diagnose cortisol-related issues is through laboratory testing, which measures cortisol levels in the blood, urine, or saliva at different times of the day to assess the body's natural cortisol rhythm. This can help determine if there is an abnormal pattern of cortisol secretion.

Kiss CrossFit & Bootcamps Goodbye

Intense and prolonged exercise can lead to a significant release of cortisol. While cortisol is a normal part of the body's stress response, chronically elevated levels can have negative health effects. 

These types of exercises are activities that involve a high level of physical effort, often pushing the body to its limits and causing a substantial increase in heart rate, respiration rate, and overall stress on various systems. 

These exercises typically require a significant amount of energy and can be challenging to sustain for extended periods. 

Here are some examples of intense and prolonged exercises: 

  • High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
  • CrossFit,
  • Long-distance running
  • High-intensity cycling/Spin
  • Boot camps
  • Martial arts training 

While these types of exercise can offer great benefits for cardiovascular fitness, strength, and overall health, they can further elevate cortisol levels due to the additional stress they place on the body. 

Intense, yet brief exercise sessions should be incorporated into a well-rounded fitness routine that includes lower-intensity activities and proper recovery strategies to prevent overtraining and excessive stress on the body.

A woman who is fit and healthy from slow motion strength training that helps combat hight cortisol levels

Go Low-Impact

Low-impact workouts are less likely to trigger excessive cortisol release and can actually help reduce stress and promote relaxation. This is important because chronically elevated cortisol levels are often associated with chronic stress, and incorporating low-impact activities can contribute to a more balanced stress response.

Some low impact exercises include:

These exercises are gentler on the joints and muscles, reducing the risk of further stress to an already stressed body. This can support the healing process and overall well-being.

As a cherry on top, low-impact exercises like walking, yoga, or slow strength training can have a positive impact on mood. They promote the release of endorphins, which are natural mood lifters, and can help counteract some of the negative emotional effects associated with high cortisol levels.

The Best of Both Exercise Worlds

Slow-motion strength training truly combines the best of both worlds in the case of controlling cortisol. Although it's intense, it's incredibly brief and low-impact. When incorporated correctly, it requires significantly more rest time than time spent working out.

The recommended routine is two, 20-minute slow-motion strength training workouts a week with 2-3 days of rest in between. During the rest time, you can still engage in low-intensity, low-impact activities like walking and yoga. 

A plate of healthy food that helps lower cortisol levels

Foods that lower cortisol

Certain foods and dietary habits can help support healthy cortisol levels and manage stress. While there are no specific foods that directly “lower” cortisol, incorporating a balanced and nutritious diet can help modulate the body's stress response. 

Here are some foods and dietary strategies that may help:

  • Complex Carbohydrates: Foods like whole grains (oats, quinoa, brown rice), legumes (beans, lentils), and starchy vegetables (sweet potatoes) can help stabilize blood sugar levels. This can prevent spikes and crashes in blood sugar, which can trigger cortisol release.
  • Fruits and Vegetables: A diet rich in fruits and vegetables provides essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that support overall health. Antioxidants, in particular, can help combat oxidative stress caused by high cortisol levels.
  • Protein: Including lean sources of protein in your diet, such as poultry, fish, lean beef, tofu, and legumes, can help stabilize blood sugar levels and provide a steady source of energy.
  • Fatty Fish: Fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce the negative effects of chronic stress.
  • Nuts and Seeds: Almonds, walnuts, flaxseeds, and chia seeds are good sources of healthy fats, fiber, and magnesium, which can support stress management.
  • Herbal Teas: Chamomile tea and green tea are known for their calming properties and may help reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Dark Chocolate: Yes! In moderation, dark chocolate with a high cocoa content (70% or higher) can have stress-reducing effects. It contains antioxidants and compounds that promote relaxation.
  • Probiotic-Rich Foods: Foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut contain probiotics that support gut health. There is a growing body of research suggesting a strong connection between gut health and stress response.
  • Water: Staying hydrated is crucial for overall health and can help regulate bodily functions, including cortisol release. Dehydration can contribute to stress, so drinking enough water is essential.
  • Limit Caffeine and Alcohol: Excessive caffeine and alcohol consumption can disrupt sleep patterns and exacerbate stress. Moderation is key.
  • Balanced Meals: Eating regular, balanced meals and avoiding extreme calorie restriction can help prevent blood sugar fluctuations that trigger cortisol release.
  • Magnesium-Rich Foods: Magnesium is involved in stress regulation, and magnesium-rich foods like leafy greens, nuts, and seeds can support healthy stress management.
  • B Vitamins: Foods rich in B vitamins, such as whole grains, leafy greens, and lean meats, can help support the nervous system and energy metabolism.

It's important to note that while these foods and dietary habits can contribute to a healthy stress response, they are most effective when part of an overall lifestyle approach to stress management. 

An older woman and man enjoying their hobby because they have low cortisol levels

The Low-Cortisol Lifestyle

Lowering cortisol levels and maintaining that low-cort life may require some lifestyle changes. And it's really no surprise that this list includes the usual suspects: sleep, exercise, nutrition, and mindfulness. 

Here are some effective lifestyle strategies for managing cortisol:

  • Regular Physical Activity: Engaging in regular exercise can help reduce cortisol levels and improve overall stress resilience. Aim for a combination of aerobic exercises (e.g., walking, swimming, cycling) and strength training. However, avoid excessive high-intensity exercise, as it can temporarily elevate cortisol levels.
  • Meditation & Breathwork: Meditation and deep breathing exercises can help calm the mind, reduce stress, and lower cortisol levels. Practicing mindfulness regularly can improve your ability to cope with stressors as well.
  • Adequate Sleep: Prioritize sleep by maintaining a regular sleep schedule and creating a comfortable sleep environment. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night. 
  • Balanced Nutrition: Eat a well-balanced diet that includes whole grains, lean protein, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats. Avoid excessive caffeine, sugary foods, and alcohol, as they can contribute to cortisol spikes and disrupt sleep.
  • Limit Stimulants: Reduce or eliminate the consumption of stimulants like caffeine and nicotine, especially in the afternoon and evening. These substances can disrupt sleep and increase cortisol levels.
  • Social Support: Maintain strong social connections with friends and family. Having a support system can help you cope with stress and reduce feelings of isolation.
  • Time Management: Organize your schedule and prioritize tasks to reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed. Time management techniques can help prevent chronic stress.
  • Limit Exposure to Stressors: Whenever possible, minimize exposure to stressful situations or environments. This might involve setting boundaries, saying no to additional commitments, or making changes to your work environment.
  • Laugh and Have Fun: Engage in activities that make you laugh and bring joy. Laughter has been shown to reduce stress and improve mood.
  • Hobbies and Leisure Activities: Make time for hobbies and activities you enjoy. Engaging in enjoyable activities can provide a welcome break from stressors. Pickleball anyone?
  • Set Realistic Goals: Set achievable goals and break them down into manageable steps. This can reduce the sense of overwhelm and help you stay focused.
  • Limit Screen Time: Reduce exposure to screens, especially before bedtime. The blue light emitted by screens can interfere with sleep patterns.
  • Nature and Outdoor Time: Spend time in nature and outdoor environments. Nature walks or simply being in natural settings can have a calming effect on the nervous system.
  • Professional Help: If you find that chronic stress is significantly impacting your life, consider seeking help from a mental health professional, such as a therapist or counselor. They can provide valuable guidance and support.

Here’s What You Need to Know About Managing Cortisol

Cortisol, aka the “stress hormone,” plays a crucial role in the body's response to stress and its ability to function effectively in high-pressure situations. However, when cortisol levels remain consistently elevated due to chronic stress, it can have a big negative impact on your health.

From weight gain and sleep disturbances to anxiety, depression, and high blood pressure, the effects of excess cortisol are far-reaching and can significantly impact quality of life. Recognizing the signs of elevated cortisol levels is the first step in addressing these issues and taking proactive measures to manage stress.

For someone dealing with chronic stress, lifestyle changes are absolutely necessary to achieve and maintain balanced cortisol levels. These strategies include a wide range of practices, from regular physical activity and meditation to balanced nutrition and adequate sleep. By incorporating these habits into daily life, you can effectively reduce cortisol levels and cultivate a more resilient response to stress.

An often overlooked – and extremely important – piece of the puzzle is understanding the role of exercise in managing cortisol. While intense and prolonged workouts can elevate cortisol levels, they can be balanced by incorporating low-impact exercises like walking, gentle strength training, and yoga into a fitness routine. To get the best of both worlds, consider slow-motion strength training.

Finally, the role of nutrition in cortisol regulation should not be underestimated. While no single food can directly lower cortisol, a well-balanced diet rich in complex carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and essential nutrients can help the body better cope with stress and maintain hormonal balance.

This long list of solutions may seem overwhelming and it might feel impossible to do all at once, but it is possible to create change. Start by making adjustments in one area of your life until it becomes a healthy habit. Once you have that down, conquer the next area of life. 

Soon you’ll begin to see and feel the changes in your body! 

Meeting with a Personal Trainer and/or a Nutrition Coach can help you build a game plan to manage your symptoms. 

This is where The Perfect Workout can help.

To speak with a Personal Trainer about exercise, nutrition or any help with lifestyle adjustments please call us at (888) 803-6813.


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The 20-Minute (Drug Free) Overall Health Solution That Will Have Your Doctor Asking, “What’s Your Secret?”

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The 20-minute (drug free) overall health solution that will have your doctor asking, "what's your secret?"

Unlock the power of strength training on biomarkers. Improve blood pressure, cholesterol, insulin sensitivity, inflammation, and bone density.

Picture this: What if there was a way to transform your exercise routine into a powerful tool that not only sculpts your physique but also optimizes your overall health? Well, the good news is that such a solution exists.

Enter strength training—the secret ingredient that goes beyond building muscle and improving physical appearance.

In this article, we will unveil the science-backed benefits of strength training on various biomarkers associated with your health and well-being. Get ready to discover how this dynamic form of exercise can revolutionize your fitness routine and transform your body from the inside out.


What Are Biomarkers?

Biomarkers play a pivotal role in assessing our health and overall wellness. These measurable indicators offer valuable insights into the functioning of our body systems, helping identify potential risks or abnormalities.

While strength training is often associated with building muscle and improving physical appearance, its impact extends far beyond these surface-level benefits. Research reveals that strength training profoundly affects various biomarkers linked to overall health.

Blood Pressure

High blood pressure poses a significant risk for cardiovascular disease. Fortunately, strength training proves to be an effective strategy for managing this biomarker. Regular strength training sessions lead to notable reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels.

Aim to incorporate strength training exercises like resistance training and weightlifting into your fitness routine two to three times a week. By doing so, alongside a balanced diet (low sodium, high fiber, fruit and vegetable focus, and especially avoiding excessive processed foods/canned soups/condiments) and regular aerobic exercise, you can effectively maintain a healthy blood pressure range.

Cholesterol Levels

Elevated cholesterol levels, specifically LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, contribute to the development of cardiovascular diseases. Strength training positively influences these biomarkers by reducing total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride levels while increasing HDL cholesterol.

To harness these benefits, engage in strength training exercises targeting major muscle groups. Combine this with a heart-healthy diet abundant in fruits, vegetables, fiber, and lean proteins to optimize your cholesterol profile.

Insulin Sensitivity and Glucose Metabolism

Insulin resistance and impaired glucose metabolism are key factors in the development of metabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes. Strength training enhances insulin sensitivity and promotes efficient glucose metabolism.

By increasing your muscle mass through resistance exercises like squats, leg press, and chest press, you can improve insulin signaling and enhance glucose uptake by skeletal muscles.

Incorporate strength training sessions that challenge your muscles and gradually increase the resistance over time to maximize benefits for your insulin and glucose biomarkers.

Inflammation Markers

Inflammation, a natural response to injury or infection, can be acute or chronic. Cytokines and C-reactive protein (CRP) are key indicators of inflammation.

Strength training initially causes temporary inflammation due to muscle damage, but it promotes repair and muscle growth.

What’s really cool is strength training has been shown to decrease CRP levels in overweight individuals and reduce pro-inflammatory cytokines in various populations.

Increased muscle mass from strength training improves energy expenditure and insulin sensitivity, leading to reduced proinflammatory markers.

To maximize benefits, train with challenging weights and allow for adequate rest between workouts!

Bone Density and Strength

Maintaining strong and healthy bones remains essential for overall well-being, especially as we age. Strength training plays a vital role in improving biomarkers associated with bone health, such as bone mineral density (BMD).

Weight-bearing exercises, including resistance training and weightlifting, stimulate bone remodeling and increase BMD. Engage in strength training exercises targeting major muscle groups while incorporating impact activities like jumping or jogging.

Additionally, ensure an adequate intake of bone-supporting nutrients like calcium and vitamin D for optimal bone health.

A woman improving her biomarkers by strength training

Strength Training Profoundly Affects Various Biomarkers Linked To Overall Health

Strength training offers benefits beyond muscle building and physique enhancement. It profoundly impacts various biomarkers associated with overall health and well-being. By incorporating targeted strength training exercises into your fitness routine, you can take actionable steps to optimize your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, insulin sensitivity, inflammation markers, and bone health.

Remember to consult with a qualified fitness professional before starting any new exercise program, especially if you have pre-existing health conditions. With dedication and consistency, strength training can be a powerful tool in improving your biomarkers and enhancing your overall health.

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Want Flat Abs? Stop Doing Crunches! What You Really Need To Know About Achieving a Defined Core

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Want Flat Abs? Stop Doing Crunches! What You Really Need To Know About Achieving a Defined Core.

An Introduction to Spot Reduction & Targeted Fat Loss

For a very long time, an idea has persisted that has turned out to be very counterproductive for the global population–and their waistlines. It is so intuitive, and seems so obvious, that it is easily believed by credulous folks looking for a bit of help with their body composition.

This idea is known as “spot reduction,” and if you were to survey a large group of professional trainers you would find a not-so-surprising majority of them believe in it wholeheartedly.

A billion-dollar industry has emerged around this one idea.

8-Minute Abs. The Thigh-Master. Ab Rollers. Electric abdominal stimulators.

However, despite its popularity, spot reduction is a myth that won't help you lose weight. Let’s take a look at the facts.

What Is Spot Reduction?

The phenomenon of spot reduction can be defined as the belief that fat in a certain area of the body can be reduced through the contraction of specific muscles in the target area. E.g. exercising the abdominal muscles in an effort to lose fat in or around your midsection.

Makes sense, right? To lose fat in your stomach, do situps and crunches. To lose fat in your upper arms, do triceps pressdowns. To lose fat in your hips, perform squats. Simple.

Simple and wrong, that is!

The way it’s supposed to work never pans out, and much like Einstein’s definition of insanity we keep repeating the very same strategies that have been failing, but expect a different result each time. It’s a case of the blind (mis)leading the blind.

And it’s not just time-wasting exercises that fail to produce the targeted fat loss. There is no shortage of “innovative” products that claim to be able to provide this holy grail. A quick perusal of Amazon’s online marketplace reveals myriad lotions, creams, heating pads, cooling pads, rolling tools, and even electrical stimulation devices all marketed using the principle of spot reduction.

But let’s examine the principle: can you actually target specific areas for fat loss?

Vintage exercise machine

Why Spot Reduction is a Myth

The truth is that the regulation of your fat tissue is out of your direct, instantaneous control. There are middle-men called “hormones” that are responsible for regulating the amount and quality of fat tissue you carry. Your only access to this system is to indirectly affect your fat tissue by manipulating these hormones. And no amount of ‘spot reduction’ work will have a meaningful impact on your hormonal system.

Some examples of hormones involved in the regulation of fat tissue include:

  • Insulin–released by the pancreas, helps regulate blood sugar and glucose storage.
  • Leptin–released from your fat tissue, provides the signal to your brain that you are full.
  • Ghrelin–the “hunger hormone,” tells your brain that you need more food.
  • Cortisol–commonly associated with high levels of stress, released from the adrenals, can cause excessive fat storage.
  • Estrogen–a sex hormone responsible for regulating the female reproductive system, as well as the immune, skeletal, and vascular systems. Can alter the pattern of fat deposition.
  • Neuropeptide Y (NPY)–increases hunger and decreases energy expenditure, leading to increased fat deposition.
  • Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 (GLP-1) – a gut hormone that helps tell your brain that you are full.

Whew. Who knew there was so much going on beyond “eat less and move more?” In light of the intricate workings of your hormonal system, what are the odds that you can preferentially burn fat from a certain place on your body just by contracting the nearby muscles?

The truth is, when fat tissue is reduced, it is reduced a little bit from everywhere in a hormonally-determined pattern. So if you want to lose fat from anywhere, you have to lose fat from everywhere.

So how do we do it?

A person workouts using the adduction machine

Resistance Training Hits The Spot

There are several reasons that full-body, high-intensity strength training is the most effective method for improving your body composition and reducing your body fat percentage. But the main thing is the hormonal enhancement that resistance training–especially when combined with diet, sleep, and other lifestyle factors–produces.

For example, we know that resistance training of this type:

Do you see the huge health benefits that are possible when you have a more holistic view? When you’re only focused on fitness myths like spot reduction, you miss out on all the things you could be doing if you just paid more attention to the important things.

When you eat in a way that balances your hormones, consistently get ample sleep, and engage in full-body, high-intensity strength training workouts, you’ll find that those pesky “spots” of fat begin to disappear along with the balance of fat elsewhere in the body. No lotions, creams, or electric shocks needed!

Bringing It Home

Even though we’ve advanced our understanding of fat tissue regulation in recent decades, very old ideas like spot reduction persist. It’s the fat loss version of the get-rich-quick shortcuts that are increasingly prevalent today.

Spot reduction strategies’ potential benefits and relatively low cost might seem superior to the more holistic options discussed above. But half of a sure thing is better than twice of nothing, and our recommendation is that you learn this lesson sooner than later.

The consistent practice of the habits and strategies that improve body composition incrementally over time will do more to rid you of undesirable fat tissue than dozens of gimmicks, tricks, and other counterproductive canards.

Eat, sleep, and train in a way that is compatible with your long-term goals and can be sustainably incorporated into your lifestyle. That’s the best “spot reduction” there is.

And we can help!

We know strength training is important, but nutrition is also a huge piece of your wellbeing. If you'd like help learning how to implement these new habits alongside your workouts, schedule a Nutrition Intro session today! Email [email protected] to get started.

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What Happens To Your Weight When You Skip Out on Sleep?

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What Happens To Your Weight When You Skip Out on Sleep?

If weight loss or weight maintenance is one of your goals, you may be surprised to learn that sleep plays a crucial role in achieving it.

If weight loss or weight maintenance is one of your goals, you may be surprised to learn that sleep plays a crucial role in achieving it.

While the basic principle of weight management revolves around “calories in, calories out,” the quality and duration of your sleep can significantly influence your calorie intake.

Numerous studies have shown that inadequate sleep can lead to overeating and weight gain over time, especially among individuals struggling with overeating tendencies. In this article, we will explore the connection between sleep and weight and why poor sleep can sabotage your weight loss efforts.

Jump to Topic:
What Happens When You Don't Get Enough Sleep?
How Many Hours of Sleep Should You Get?
What Happens if You Have Short Sleep?
Poor Sleep Can Influence Food Choices & Lead to Weight Gain
Improving Your Sleep for Weight Management

What Happens When You Don't Get Enough Sleep?

Sleep deprivation has profound effects on various aspects of your health. Beyond feeling groggy and fatigued, insufficient sleep can impair cognitive function, memory, and decision-making abilities. It can also negatively impact mood and increase the risk of accidents and injuries.

Research suggests that chronic sleep deprivation is associated with a higher risk of developing chronic health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even certain cancers.

Simply put, when you don’t get enough sleep- you and your health suffer.

How Many Hours of Sleep Should You Get?

Short sleep duration, defined as less than six hours, has been associated with an increased risk of weight gain and obesity. Lack of adequate sleep can disrupt metabolic processes, including the regulation of appetite-controlling hormones.

Sleep deprivation also leads to more calorie consumption. Research shows that short sleep can actually lead to an increased calorie intake of 300-559 calories during the following day! That can add up to thousands of extra calories each week with chronic sleep deprivation.

Shorter sleep duration is also linked to higher levels of ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates hunger, and lower levels of leptin, the hormone responsible for signaling fullness. This hormonal imbalance can lead to increased appetite, cravings for high-calorie foods, and a higher likelihood of overeating.

Poor Sleep Can Influence Food Choices & Lead to Weight Gain

Poor sleep quality, characterized by frequent awakenings, difficulty falling asleep, or experiencing non-restorative sleep, can contribute to weight gain and affect your food choices.

Disrupted sleep can interfere with the normal regulation of appetite hormones, leading to increased hunger and cravings, especially for high-calorie and sugary foods. Research suggests that sleep deprivation can lead to increased cravings for high-calorie, sugary, and fatty foods. Lack of sleep affects the brain's reward centers, making unhealthy foods more appealing and impairing your ability to make healthier food choices.

Additionally, poor sleep can affect glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity, potentially contributing to the development of insulin resistance and weight gain. Sleep deprivation can disrupt the balance of hormones that regulate appetite, leading to increased hunger and a preference for energy-dense foods.

Infographic on Improving Your Sleep for Weight Management

What Have We Learned?

The impact of sleep on body weight goes beyond mere calorie counting. Inadequate sleep and poor sleep quality can disrupt hormonal balance, increase hunger, cravings, and alter food choices, ultimately sabotaging your weight management efforts.

Striving for the recommended amount of sleep, establishing healthy sleep habits, and addressing sleep disorders can positively impact your weight and overall health.

Remember, achieving quality sleep is a multifaceted endeavor that involves creating a conducive sleep environment, adopting a regular sleep schedule, managing stress, and prioritizing self-care.

By acknowledging the importance of sleep and making it a priority in your life, you can support your weight management journey and experience the numerous benefits that quality sleep offers!

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Is Grass-Fed Beef Really Worth All the Hype?

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Is Grass-Fed Beef Really Worth All the Hype?

Discover the nutritional advantages of choosing grass-fed beef over grain-fed alternatives.
a cow being grass-fed

Where’s the beef?!

No, we're not talking about that one commercial from the eighties – but if you remember it, consider our target audience reached!

We’re talking about one of the best high-protein options out there, beef. But not all kinds of beef…

Grass-fed beef.

Not a fan of red meat, or meat altogether, that’s okay. This article may not be for you. But for all of you meat-eaters pay attention! In this short article, we are talking about why you should choose grass-fed beef and the benefits it can add to your diet.

Health Benefits of Eating Grass-Fed Beef infographic

What to Know Before Buying Grass-Fed Beef

If you’re interested in trying grass-fed beef, there’s a few things to know before buying it. The label “grass-fed” indicates that the animal has been fed by “grass and forage” for its entire adult life.

However, “grass-fed” and “grass-finished” aren’t highly-regulated terms by the USDA. Also, “organic” does not indicate if an animal lived off of grass. Other marketing phrases can be used to mislead people who are seeking grass-fed meat. Among these labels are “natural,” “convention feed,” or “pasture-raised.”

General Recommendations for Finding Grass-Fed Beef:

  1. Label. The label “grass-fed” should be found on the package.
  2. Providers. The ideal approach is to find a local farm where you can visit to ensure the cows are freely roaming the pasture, then buy from that farm. Assuming you’re like most people and don’t have the time for that, consider going to grocery stores with strong reputations (Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods) or work with a mailing service (Butcher Box, Grassland Beef, Verde Farms).

If you’re a meat eater and not already eating grass-fed beef, give it a go! Eating this lean, protein packed food adds a number of positives in your diet, including: less total fat, healthier saturated fat, more stearic acid and less palmitic acid, a better omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acid ratio, and higher amounts of vitamins A and E.

Next time you’re at the grocery store lookout for labels such as “grass-fed” and “grass and forage” and enjoy some high quality beef!

Nutrition is a huge piece of your wellbeing. If you'd like help learning how to implement these new habits alongside your workouts, schedule a Nutrition Intro session today! Email [email protected] to get started.

  1. Daley, C. A., Abbott, A., Doyle, P. S., Nader, G. A., & Larson, S. (2010). A review of fatty acid profiles and antioxidant content in grass-fed and grain-fed beef. Nutrition Journal, 9(1), 1-12.
  2. Nuernberg, K., Dannenberger, D., Nuernberg, G., Ender, K., Voigt, J., Scollan, N. D., … & Richardson, R. I. (2005). Effect of a grass-based and a concentrate feeding system on meat quality characteristics and fatty acid composition of longissimus muscle in different cattle breeds. Livestock Production Science, 94(1-2), 137-147.
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Stronger in Less Time: Discover the Potency & Efficiency of One-Set Strength Training!

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Stronger in Less Time: Discover the Potency & Efficiency of One-Set Strength Training!

Strength training boosts metabolism post-workout, with a lasting effect of up to 72 hours. One-set strength training can achieve the same metabolic increase as a traditional 3-set, 10-repetition workout.

One Set vs. Three Sets

Strength training is often referred to as a solution to speed up your metabolism and turn your body into a calorie-burning machine. But does it really work, and can you get the same benefits from a shorter workout? Let's take a closer look.

Weights are generally lifted for sets of multiple repetitions. Let’s refer to this as the “traditional method.” Each time you lift and lower a weight, it is one repetition. Multiple repetitions makes up a set, and once you have stopped or taken a break from lifting, the set is over.

The most common way to lift is used in the traditional method where you lift for 3 sets of 10 repetitions, whether you hit muscle failure or not. Lifting speeds vary but on average let’s assume the traditional speed is 1 second lifting, 1 second pausing (or none at all), and 1 second lowering.

The Perfect Workout Method uses lifting for one set until muscle failure. This method is also referred to as high-intensity training. If the exercise is performed for 1-2 minutes, which is the recommended length of time to achieve maximum efficiency and effectiveness, then that generally ends up being 3-6 repetitions. The lifting speed used is 10 seconds lifting, 0-3 seconds pausing, and 10 seconds lowering.

So to simplify….

Traditional method: 3 sets of 10 repetitions | 30 repetitions total

One-set method: 1 set of 3-6 repetitions | 3-6 repetitions total

One study compared the two different workout protocols. The first was a full-body workout using one set of each exercise, while the second featured three sets of each exercise.

The researchers measured the energy (calories) burned at rest for a week after each workout. Surprisingly, there was no difference in the amount of energy burned between the two groups, even though the three-set workout took much longer.

As the researchers predicted, energy expenditure for both groups was much higher during each of the first three days. However, there was NO difference between the two groups. A workout using one set per exercise increased metabolism to the same degree that a three-set routine did for 24, 48, and 72 hours afterwards.

Both groups increased their daily energy expenditure by about 100 calories on the following day and that rate decreased to roughly 90 and 80 for two and three days after. This isn't enough to lead to significant weight loss on its own, but it can help with fat loss and weight maintenance.

In fact, strength training was the second most popular physical activity/exercise for people who have successfully maintained 30-lb weight loss for at least one year (following walking). It could explain why they've been so successful.

If you're strength training twice a week, the benefits of the workout may be ongoing, since your resting energy expenditure could remain elevated. Plus, you can save time by doing a shorter, single-set training workout.

How To Have A Successful One-Set Workout:

Each exercise is performed by lifting weights or added resistance for approximately 10 seconds and lowering the weight for another 10 seconds with correct form and proper resistance. The ultimate goal is to achieve momentary muscular failure (aka. muscle success) within 1 to 2 minutes. Then on to the next exercise!

Slowing the lifting speed reduces momentum on each repetition and activates the muscles instantly and more effectively. As a result, more muscle fibers are used and ultimately strengthened. One session consists of anywhere between 5-9 exercises and is generally performed 1-2 times a week.

In theory, you can hit all major muscle groups with just 4 exercises:

  • Leg Press: Glutes, Quadriceps, Calves
  • Chest/Bench Press: Pectorals, Shoulders, Triceps
  • Lat Pulldown: Lats, Biceps, Abdominals
  • Leg Curl: Hamstrings

Depending on your goals, you can also incorporate other exercises to target specific muscle areas, including:

  • Leg Extension: Quadriceps
  • Preacher Curl: Biceps, Forearms
  • Tricep Extension: Triceps
  • Hip Abduction: Gluteus Medius, Gluteus Minor, TFL
  • Hip Adduction: Inner Thighs
  • Compound Row: Trapezoids, Rhomboids, Biceps (often interchangeable for Lat Pulldown)
  • Abdominal Machine: Abdominals

With a one-set workout it’s important to remember to go slow, avoid rest between reps, keep going until muscle failure- and that’s that! When done correctly, a single set can get you all the benefits you need from strength training and save you tons of time!

What Have We Learned?

Strength training can be an effective way to increase metabolism, burn calories, and improve overall health. The traditional method of lifting for three sets of 10 repetitions is a common approach, but studies suggest that a shorter, one-set workout can produce the same benefits.

The key is to lift slowly with proper form until muscle failure is achieved, which can be done in just 1-2 minutes per exercise. By incorporating strength training into your exercise routine, you may be able to increase your resting energy expenditure and help with fat loss and weight maintenance. And with the one-set method, you can save time while still achieving the desired results.

So whether you're looking to build muscle, improve your health, or maintain weight loss, consider adding strength training to your routine with a one-set workout.

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