1

votes

Fighting Cortisol and High Carb Breakfasts

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created August 23, 2012 at 8:10 PM

I have recently been told that I am likely battling a Cortisol issue. Life is high stress, so I'm not surprised. I am having trouble putting my thumb on some concrete things I could be doing/ not doing to combat the issue. There's only so much that I can do right now to address situational and relational stressers, so I'm trying to find the things i CAN address and do them. Anyone have ideas or able to point me to a good resource on the subject?

I was reading about eating 50g+ of protein in the AM... I'm finding this really hard to do. Anyone have good tips on how to boost protein without ending up feeling sick-stuffed?

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on September 04, 2012
at 07:57 PM

Uhhh what? I don't see anyone saying it's not possible to be both. But when you increase protein in a calorie controlled study, calories from another macronutrient has to go down.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on September 04, 2012
at 07:38 PM

High-carb Vs. High-protein? Let's not start with false dichotomy. It's quite possible to be both.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on September 04, 2012
at 07:27 PM

Small is relative. 2 jumbo eggs and 6oz of boneless, lean pork = 50gm That really isn't "small".

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on August 25, 2012
at 05:17 PM

Thanks, Korion! I also see the OP has deleted her comment so my response above yours probably seems weird haha.

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on August 24, 2012
at 07:59 PM

When I started high protein breakfasts I got atopic dermatitis which I never had in my life before. It was so annoying :)

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on August 24, 2012
at 07:54 PM

Love your post, Mscott! Good to have some references for my own experiences.

47fbd704c0392c2f38e86a72f1a06c6c

(346)

on August 24, 2012
at 12:00 AM

Well, my sleep is ok at them moment. I do try to get to bed around 10, sleep in a dark room, etc. IN general I don't have trouble sleeping. My external stress really kicks up in the evening and it's not unusual to go to be in an very emotionally stresses state. I'm sure that impacts things, though I guess I'm tired enough that I can still sleep :-)

C0d44d0c62dcf60e8a80ae21411ddeb9

(370)

on August 23, 2012
at 11:32 PM

how do you know?

6d64cd6dc98d6ab763bd03678a317964

(2177)

on August 23, 2012
at 09:41 PM

Eating 50g doesn't have to be hard. First step is to weigh and log your food so really know how much protein your getting. You might be surprised. 2 regular eggs and a very small pork chop easily get 50g. Liquids are also easier to digest. So if you can tolerate dairy you may want to add a glass of milk. Finaly some Whey protein from grass -fed cows may be able to help...although that is least optimal.

74d3afd30ebc0d604d56c6de897bb9a8

(100)

on August 23, 2012
at 09:41 PM

sorry I guess we were typing at the same time. good advice!

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on August 23, 2012
at 08:58 PM

Pshh you can't believe everything you read on paleohacks =) Yeah, carb tolerance is likely individual, if you feel better with less that's a good barometer to follow. High fat doesn't seem detrimental to cortisol, my advice is just to not get most of your calories from protein.

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on August 23, 2012
at 08:56 PM

Pshh you can't believe everything you read on paleohacks =) Yeah, carb tolerance is likely individual, if you feel better with less that's a good barometer to follow. High fat doesn't seem detrimental to cortisol, my advice is just to not get a bulk of your calories from protein.

47fbd704c0392c2f38e86a72f1a06c6c

(346)

on August 23, 2012
at 08:43 PM

I read it in several places... including here on Paleo Hacks :-) No one ever agrees, though. And I do believe that some of these things depend on a person's particular body. If I remember correctly, the idea about a high protein breakfast is that Cortisol levels are high in the morning and eating a high protein breakfast helps to surpress it's release. I'm not a carb hater, but I do know that I tend to feel better when I eat less of them.

Frontpage book

Get FREE instant access to our Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!

10 Answers

8
A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on August 23, 2012
at 08:38 PM

Where did you hear eating more than 50 grams of protein for breakfast was good for cortisol?

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0024320587900865

"Cortisol concentrations were consistently lower during the high carbohydrate diet than during the high protein diet"

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/002604958190055X

"Subjects fed the high protein diet (4gm/kg body weight) showed significant increases in cortisol both at 30 and 60 min after the 1200 hr meal and 30 min after the 1600 hr meal"

http://jcem.endojournals.org/content/57/6/1111.short

"High protein meals induced a large increase in both PRL and cortisol"

http://www.psychosomaticmedicine.org/content/61/2/214.short

"An acute meal-dependent increase in salivary cortisol occurred, which was reliable over 2 test days. This increase in cortisol depended on the proportion of protein in the meal, increasing after the high-protein but not the low-protein meal"

I'm not a total protein hater, but I think if you want to improve cortisol levels you should limit protein to what you need, getting the bulk of your calories from carbs and/or fat.

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on August 24, 2012
at 07:54 PM

Love your post, Mscott! Good to have some references for my own experiences.

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on August 23, 2012
at 08:56 PM

Pshh you can't believe everything you read on paleohacks =) Yeah, carb tolerance is likely individual, if you feel better with less that's a good barometer to follow. High fat doesn't seem detrimental to cortisol, my advice is just to not get a bulk of your calories from protein.

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on August 25, 2012
at 05:17 PM

Thanks, Korion! I also see the OP has deleted her comment so my response above yours probably seems weird haha.

47fbd704c0392c2f38e86a72f1a06c6c

(346)

on August 23, 2012
at 08:43 PM

I read it in several places... including here on Paleo Hacks :-) No one ever agrees, though. And I do believe that some of these things depend on a person's particular body. If I remember correctly, the idea about a high protein breakfast is that Cortisol levels are high in the morning and eating a high protein breakfast helps to surpress it's release. I'm not a carb hater, but I do know that I tend to feel better when I eat less of them.

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on August 23, 2012
at 08:58 PM

Pshh you can't believe everything you read on paleohacks =) Yeah, carb tolerance is likely individual, if you feel better with less that's a good barometer to follow. High fat doesn't seem detrimental to cortisol, my advice is just to not get most of your calories from protein.

A2c38be4c54c91a15071f82f14cac0b3

(12682)

on September 04, 2012
at 07:57 PM

Uhhh what? I don't see anyone saying it's not possible to be both. But when you increase protein in a calorie controlled study, calories from another macronutrient has to go down.

77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on September 04, 2012
at 07:38 PM

High-carb Vs. High-protein? Let's not start with false dichotomy. It's quite possible to be both.

1
7cf9f5b08a41ecf2a2d2bc0b31ea6fa0

on August 24, 2012
at 03:13 PM

I have a small glass of fruit juice when i get up, when i started eating protein only breakfast my anxiety went through the roof

B0fe7b5a9a197cd293978150cbd9055f

(8938)

on August 24, 2012
at 07:59 PM

When I started high protein breakfasts I got atopic dermatitis which I never had in my life before. It was so annoying :)

1
Medium avatar

(3213)

on August 23, 2012
at 09:57 PM

Getting a good night sleep is key when it comes to controlling high levels of cortisol, also the way you exercise has a big effect on it, high intensity training is better than long sessions of cardio.

1
74d3afd30ebc0d604d56c6de897bb9a8

(100)

on August 23, 2012
at 09:40 PM

interesting, I was just reading about this.

So basically, you want your cortisol to stay high in the morning, according to this:

http://robbwolf.com/2012/06/01/rest-faster/ Poster says: ???Licorice Tea when you wake up ???The licorice keeps Cortisol in the blood stream longer, by keeping the liver from clearing it.

I think if cortisol isn't staying in your system long enough, you have problems with getting up too early, but don't quote me on this. do you have sleep issues?

(Interestingly, cortisol tests - I assume you took a 24 hr one? - say to avoid zinc, and licorice tea before hormone tests, because they can influence the results. this is per stop the thyroid madness. there's a whole list there if you want to check it out...hopefully none of these influenced your test)

So you want your cortisol to stay somewhat high through morning and then to be lower before you go to bed. High at needed times - racing, lifting, etc. but low at not needed times - resting, bed time, etc..

Related to food, there was a post I was reading on leangains on this - why eating breakfast makes you hungry later. he says, "Cortisol is the main culprit behind for post-breakfast hunger, the up-until-now mysterious affliction that is the topic behind this article." as well as, "Post-breakfast hunger cannot be explained by differences in food choice, but by certain individual factors, and their interaction with a time-of-day effect of feeding on hormonal profile and metabolism."

Do you get hungry post-breakfast? most women do. I do.

Martin goes on to say, "That said, assuming you do seem to be experiencing post-breakfast hunger after breaking the fast in the morning, I would definitely recommend cutting down on carbs in favor for fat and a solid protein source. Solid meaning chewable, meaning meat."

Two martin quotes from here: www.leangains.com/2012/06/why-does-breakfast-make-me-hungry.html

I used to eat non-paleo for breakfast and it's true - eating breakfast made me hungrier. actually even eating eggs sometimes makes me hungry, and yes, even eating meat (unless I eat 50 grams) still makes me hungry sometimes! and then I have to up the fat and then I don't get SO hungry but it's still a weird thing that no matter what, eating breakfast makes me hungry like 2 hours later.

anyway, less about me, more about you, I think that if you eat breakfast, eat protein (from my personal experience) and some carbs because a lot of protein CAN get really boring but that's not going to fix your issues completely....

can you talk more about what you're doing to fix sleeping problems, since those factor in heavily too?

47fbd704c0392c2f38e86a72f1a06c6c

(346)

on August 24, 2012
at 12:00 AM

Well, my sleep is ok at them moment. I do try to get to bed around 10, sleep in a dark room, etc. IN general I don't have trouble sleeping. My external stress really kicks up in the evening and it's not unusual to go to be in an very emotionally stresses state. I'm sure that impacts things, though I guess I'm tired enough that I can still sleep :-)

1
6d64cd6dc98d6ab763bd03678a317964

(2177)

on August 23, 2012
at 09:28 PM

The advice to eat 50g of protein within 30 minutes is sage advice in your situation. Keep in mind a Cortisol problem is really a Cortisol Rhythm problem. This means that context maters. You want cortisol high when it's supposed to be high (AM) and lower when it needs to be (PM).

Look up the Cortisol Awakening Response.

The cortisol awakening response (CAR) is an increase of about 50% in cortisol levels occurring 20???30 minutes after awakening in the morning in some people. This rise is superimposed upon the late-night rise in cortisol which occurs before awakening. It is thought to be linked to the hippocampus' preparation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) to face anticipated stress.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cortisol_awakening_response

This is why the gurus say to eat 50g protein immediately upon wakening. You want to retrain the body to peak cortisol at this time.

This is only half the picture.

Now you need to lower cortisol in the PM. This is why you shouldn't eat within 4 hours of going to sleep. It's also why you should go to bed at or around 10:00pm. Depending on the severity of your condition you may also need to block all blue light with special goggles after sun down. (Blue light=cellphones, flat screens, etc etc). You may also want to do light therapy in the AM.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9395158

74d3afd30ebc0d604d56c6de897bb9a8

(100)

on August 23, 2012
at 09:41 PM

sorry I guess we were typing at the same time. good advice!

0
7bf306ada57db47547e9da39a415edf6

(11214)

on August 24, 2012
at 03:57 PM

Raw honey (I suspect plain sucrose would work too) before bed seems to help. The theory behind this one is that the fructose encourages the liver to take up glucose. The liver then provides the brain a nice steady trickle of glucose all night, and this means that the brain won't get panicky and wake you up with a cortisol bludgeon.

If you are low carb, or are afraid for your teeth, smaller meals throughout the day seem to help. I gave up the honey because I had blood sugar issues, and then realized that on a low carb diet, I usually don't eat enough. So, making some attempt at eating enough seems to ameliorate a lot of these problems people attribute to thyriod and cortisol issues surrounding the low carb lifestyle.

0
6046f97cf600ca84ee934d9dad759001

on August 24, 2012
at 02:30 PM

I have been trying to figure out the best time of day to exersize to decrease my cortisol-I think I might have a cortisol issue. For the past 1.5 years I've done crossfit 3 days a week at 6am, so I get up by alarm at 5:15 have coffee then work out, I also try to do 2-3 cardio sessions a week to burn calories. After my work out I have more coffee, then work on my feet most of the day. I eat paleo/primal most of the time. After I lost 35 lbs, my weight has stuck for a year, fat around the middle, not improving on my strengths and really need my coffee all the time.

Anyway...I read from Dr. Jack Kruse that I should skip cardio and lift at 5pm. But then I hear to work out in the am when cortisol is the highest. What are the thoughts?

0
01adafcb4dd4147c6af543f61eee60a8

on August 24, 2012
at 10:35 AM

This is why any form of exercise later in the day is bad because it causes a rise in stress levels at a time when you want to have reduced levels.

0
20bff9cbbddf521bac87b434981502c3

on August 23, 2012
at 08:44 PM

One thing that helps me is if I can walk away from the stress, even for just a handful of minutes.

At work I will take small 5 minute breaks to walk around the building. If I have more time, I'll sit down outside and just breathe and try to clear my mind.

I'm fortunate in that I live near the beach and in a pretty, walkable neighborhood. I suggest finding somewhere pretty and walkable near your home and exploring it. Don't worry about how little time you have, but enjoy the time that you do have. And don't spend that time planning or thinking - just appreciate your life and the quiet moment you are able to enjoy.

Recently I've been reading this on my little walks. The chapters are brief meditations, thought provoking, and help me to be more mindful.

The Way to Love

And it was my understanding that high protein meals increase cortisol?

I'd also look your sleep hygiene (do you wind down an hour before sleep, dim the lights, or do you do things to activate your brain like using the computer or watching TV, etc.) as well as your sleep quality (do you have trouble falling asleep, do you sleep soundly through the night, do you wake naturally and feel relatively alert, or do you wake with difficulty and feel groggy).

0
5794d3ae004c33f043cdaaa8e0584fa0

on August 23, 2012
at 08:11 PM

I don't shoot for 50g as that is a lot, I always go with a 3 egg omelette then whatever I can lay my hands on, maybe a chicken breast, bit of beef etc, and my cortisol levels have dropped dramatically

C0d44d0c62dcf60e8a80ae21411ddeb9

(370)

on August 23, 2012
at 11:32 PM

how do you know?

Answer Question


Get FREE instant access to our
Paleo For Beginners Guide & 15 FREE Recipes!