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Thread: Skipping meals and Cortisol Increase? page

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    fyrespryte's Avatar
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    Skipping meals and Cortisol Increase?

    I'm currently doing some research on cortisol because I think my levels are all messed up. A few of the articles that I've read have mentioned that missing a meal will raise cortisol levels. I can't say that any of the sources are particularly trustworthy though so I was wondering if anyone here is well educated on Cortisol and would know what the effects of say, IF'ing would be on Cortisol levels.

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    Grumpycakes's Avatar
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    If you're new to IFing and you experience the shakes, lightheadedness, plummeting energy or even panic, then yes, maybe your cortisol goes up. The thing is that those articles tend to be written by those who never practice IF and who take data from studies done on other people who don't practice IF.

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    Molecular Grokologist's Avatar
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    In general, it does appear that cortisol is raised during fasting, although this effect is blunted in individuals eating a high-fat diet. This rise in cortisol is accompanied by a rise in growth hormone and testosterone. Upon feeding, the cortisol levels return to below the non-fasting baseline, HGH returns to roughly baseline (some studies say just above, but I'm not sure there's any real effect), and testosterone remains moderately elevated.

    Don't fool yourself, IF is stressful on the body. It is, however, a moderate and intermittent stressor which provokes an adaptive response. This is what you're shooting for.
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    Not sure about cortisol. I think if I were hungry during an IF, I'd be raising stress levels, however, ketosis means I'm not hungry and IF is a natural by-product of that. In addition I hit the spiritual thing, often meditating through hunger pangs if they do occur. Overall, I think it's worse for my body to eat 24/7 like I used to. It's kinda like coffee. They say coffee raises cortisol, but I'm of the personal opinion that I'm way more stressed if I do NOT have my every-morning coffee.
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    Grol's Avatar
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    In some studies fasting drops cortisol levels:

    Cortisol, which is also known as the "stress hormone", was significantly lower in the fasting group (7.2 micrograms/dL) than in the control group (14.1 micrograms/dL). In other words, eating one big dinner instead of the usual three meals cut cortisol levels almost by half.
    And Dr. Eades:
    I finally pulled the study to which you referred only to find that I had already read it. I wouldn’t worry too much about the changes in blood pressure: they were minor to say the least. I don’t know why the BP went up in the study group. In virtually all other papers I’ve read, BP goes down with intermittent fasting, which makes sense when you think about it. In this study, LDL went up a little as well, but there is a rationale for that. Since triglycerides went down and HDL went up, it’s pretty clear that the LDL pattern shifted from a smaller, denser particle size to a larger, fluffier one, which is a good thing. And in this study, cortisol levels dropped markedly with the shift to once daily eating. Anything that drops cortisol levels is good. So, all in all, I believe this study does nothing but bolster the idea that longer intervals between meals and/or skipping meals is a more healthful approach to eating...

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    Grol's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Molecular Grokologist View Post
    Don't fool yourself, IF is stressful on the body. It is, however, a moderate and intermittent stressor which provokes an adaptive response. This is what you're shooting for.
    I'm reprogramming my genes.

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    Here's a look at my personal experience with IF. I thought it may be helpful. Sorry it's so long!

    I am fairly new to PB eating. Gave up wheat in early May, mostly in an attempt to curb my Coke addiction. It helped with all sugar cravings, even more than I could have imagined. Then I began reading Mark's PB book, and by the second week of June, my husband and I had decided to do a 30 day challenge.

    Prior to that time, I had practiced IF on and off for over a year, sometimes fasting for as long as 24 hours, but mostly in the 14-16 hr range. In my pre-primal days, I would almost always break my fast with something sugary, be it fruit, bread or even a coke (yeah, I know...). Because I was eating and drinking so many carbs, I often noticed a VERY empty feeling in my stomach about 12 hours in, and sometimes I would just ride it out, but sometimes I would just eat. I also noticed that I would get pretty cranky at times during my fasts--no doubt from sugar crashes.

    My observation with IF while eating high carb is that while it did help me maintain and not gain as much as I might have otherwise, it never helped me get rid of my belly fat. The muffin top stuck around in spite of my IF'ing. That seems to indicate there might have been some high levels of cortisol going on, combined with the effects of the HFCS in the Coke going straight to my liver (Mercola writes pretty extensively about this on his site).

    NOW that I am almost strictly primal (90-95%), my body seems to be way more in touch with when it is OK to IF and when it needs food. For example, Sunday was a high fat, high calorie day for me. I ate when I was hungry, which seemed to be a lot that day. In fact I was wondering if my fat/calorie intake might be too high, since I'm trying to lose fat.

    The next morning, I woke up intending to eat a light breakfast before going to the gym, but I just wasn't hungry. At this point 12 hours had passed since the previous night's meal. Instead of eating, I packed up my breakfast and took it to the gym, intending to eat after my workout. I did some light swimming, a beginning level weight workout, some yoga and some walking, all totaling about 1.5 hrs of movement.

    15 hours in, I still was not hungry, and I did not experience that EMPTY feeling, nor did I have the shakes or mental fog which might indicate cortisol release. I just wasn't hungry. 17 hours in, I finally got hungry. I started in on my lunch/breakfast: 6 deviled egg halves, 1/2 cup blueberries, 3/4 cup carrots. I was sure I would devour that and want more. I got through half of it and realized I was full. I put it aside and finished it a few hours later. My snack around 6pm was about an ounce of macadamias, and I just was not hungry for dinner, so I snacked on some raspberries I foraged on the roadside and called it a day. I guess I was still tanked up from the previous day's fat intake.

    Today, I got up and was not hungry immediately (I've never been much of a morning eater). I did a few things around the house and thought I might be in for another IF morning, but then about an hour after getting up I started to feel shaky. The feeling did not go away, so I ate breakfast and then went for an easy swim.

    I guess my point is, and hopefully this will be helpful after all I've written, my point is that my body just TELLS me when I need to eat now, whereas before PB it seemed like an act of will to IF. The key here does seem to be that you would precede an IF day with adequate fat/calorie intake, and that if you are going into it with a caloric deficit, or with a high carb binge from the night before, your body will put up more resistance.

    If you are new to PB and IF, it may be better just to focus on lowering the carbs and increasing the fats/proteins for a while, and then once your body makes that adjustment, slowly introduce the IF with a 12-14 hour fast. That's how my husband did it, and it has helped him. Changing from high carb to PB is stressful on your body without throwing in the IF element, and if you are looking to do it out of a desire to lose weight quickly, just be patient and give the primal eating time to take hold. Also, if your cortisol levels are already messed up, give your body time to reset some of your other hormone levels, particularly insulin, which I believe has an effect on cortisol as well.

    Again, this is my personal experience. Hope it helps.

    oh and p.s. I was down 2.5 lb on the scale at the gym after that "fat binge" on Sunday. Go figure
    Mermaid

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    Quote Originally Posted by Molecular Grokologist View Post
    In general, it does appear that cortisol is raised during fasting, although this effect is blunted in individuals eating a high-fat diet. This rise in cortisol is accompanied by a rise in growth hormone and testosterone. Upon feeding, the cortisol levels return to below the non-fasting baseline, HGH returns to roughly baseline (some studies say just above, but I'm not sure there's any real effect), and testosterone remains moderately elevated.

    Don't fool yourself, IF is stressful on the body. It is, however, a moderate and intermittent stressor which provokes an adaptive response. This is what you're shooting for.
    What would be a good range to get IF benefits while avoiding potential muscle loss due to the supposedly increase in cortisol then?
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    IF for a person eating SAD would be very stressful indeed.

    im 20 hours in on a 24 hour fast. i feel hunger, yes, but none of the frantic, im-going-to-faint, stressful insanity that would suggest significantly raised cortisol levels. Yesterday I ate an entire duck. If your body is used to recieving clean protein and fat as its fuel, then the IF will be very pleasant.

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