Super Simple Ways To Lower Cortisol

If you read my last blog post you will know whether you are likely to have high cortisol levels or not and whether you need to make changes in order to lower cortisol.

If you do have one or more of the signs that you have high cortisol then I recommend you make these changes to help lower your cortisol level.

Remember though, if you don’t have high cortisol then don’t try and actively lower it massively. You can still use the following ways to help you maintain your balanced cortisol levels, but don’t try and actively lower your cortisol level unless you have high cortisol. Cortisol is needed by the body, yes too much is dangerous, but too little can cause problems as well… so bearing this in mind here are some super simple ways to lower cortisol:

Get more sleep and improve the quality of your sleep

Sleep is key to recovery and lowering cortisol. Whilst you sleep your body recovers and your hormones regulate. If you don’t get enough sleep then your hormones will be out of balance including cortisol and your body won’t recover fully. Between the hours of 10pm and 2am your body recovers and between 2am and 6am your mind recovers. If you don’t get quality sleep at the right times your body won’t recover and your hormones such as cortisol will be out of balance which increases your cravings for sugary foods and promotes weight gain, in particular around the stomach.

To help lower cortisol it is important you get 8 hours of quality sleep per night ideally between 10pm and 6am but getting at least 8 hours is the most important think as not everyone can be asleep during those hours due to work.

Relax for at least 30 minutes per day

A lot of people lead highly stressful lives and are constantly on the go. When you are stressed and are constantly on the go then you are always in sympathetic dominance which is fight or flight mode and when you release cortisol. In order to lose weight you have to spend more time in parasympathetic dominance which is the time when you are resting and is also known as rest and digest mode. When you are in parasympathetic dominance your body produces less cortisol, it is able to digest food better as well as repair and regenerate the body.

You can relax in lots of ways including having a hot bath with scented candles and relaxing bubbles, listening to relaxing music, reading, going for a leisurely walk in the countryside, going in a sauna or steam room, getting a massage, meditating, deep breathing or even just sitting or lying in a silent room. Unfortunately TV is not a good way to relax so make sure the TV is off during your 30 minutes of relaxing and time to yourself each day. If you like to relax in other ways then that’s allowed but the important thing is to chill out and spend a minimum of 30 minutes in parasympathetic dominance each day.

Reduce caffeine

Caffeine increases the secretion of cortisol and sets you off on the spiral of the imbalance between insulin and cortisol. When you drink caffeine it moves you into sympathetic dominance which is why you feel like you have energy and are alive. After a while insulin is released to lower your blood sugar again. When your blood sugar crashes then you either crave sugar for more energy or you need another cup of coffee to keep you going.

This constant see-saw effect on insulin and cortisol is a massive stress on the body and can have a damaging effect on your adrenal glands.

To help lower your cortisol levels you should cut out caffeine completely. However, if you must drink caffeine then have 1 cup of coffee before 10am as you will get the cortisol spike when cortisol should be high. If you have it later in the day you will get the cortisol spike when it should be lowering which causes an imbalance in your hormones.

Change the exercise you do or train less or for a shorter time period

The most popular method of training for weight loss is long steady state cardio, however, this method of training produces the most cortisol. If you have high levels of cortisol already then you will want to change the way you exercise completely or at the very least do less cardio. Instead of cardio you should do HIIT or weight training. All exercise produces cortisol but HIIT and weight training also release other hormones such as testosterone and human growth hormone which reduce the negative effects of cortisol. If you must do long steady state cardio then limit it to once per week. Instead you could do shorter 30 minute runs at a fast tempo which will limit the release of cortisol compared to longer runs. Long stead state cardio sessions does have its place, but if you suffer from high cortisol them you should cut it out completely or at least limit it and do weight training and HIIT instead.

Cut out processed foods

Processed foods are full of toxins which lead to weight gain. Not only that whilst your liver is trying to detox the toxins from the body it can’t do its normal jobs properly. One of those jobs is to burn fat but another one is top mop up excess cortisol. If your liver constantly has to detox toxins from processed foods then your liver can’t mop up the excess cortisol in the body so instead your organ called the greater omentum mops it up. The greater omentum sits behind the abdominal muscles and when it mops up cortisol is enlarges giving you the pot belly look. In order to lose weight from your stomach it is essential you cut out all toxins in your diet from processed foods so your liver can mop up the excess cortisol in the body.

Walk regularly

Walking is great for relieving stress. Walking has been shown to lower your cortisol levels whilst at the same time boosting your dopamine and serotonin which improves your mood. Ideally you should go for a leisurely walk for at least 30 minutes per day. You can go for longer as you can never do too much walking, however, 30 minutes will have a big effect on helping you lower cortisol. I would also recommend you go for a walk in a park or in the countryside if possible as studies have shown if you go for a walk in a nature setting it lowers cortisol more.


The above are the main ways you can reduce your cortisol levels. If you found on the previous blog post that you have one or more of the 7 signs of high cortisol than I would highly recommend you follow all of the above advice.

There are more ways you can reduce cortisol including sex, deep breathing, visualisation, meditation, qi gong, yoga, tai chi, stretching, massage, reading, spending time with friends and family, going on holiday, smiling, laughing and cutting out what’s causing you stress in the first place but if you follow all the above advice then you will massively lower your cortisol levels which will help you to lose weight faster and it will also massively help you to improve your health.


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Your Coach For Life

Shaun McGill

Shaun McGill

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