The Cortisol Hormone And Weight Gain: What You Should Know

The Cortisol Hormone And Weight Gain: What You Should Know

Let’s talk about cortisol. Cortisol is your body’s biggest stress hormone; it’s like your body’s very own alarm system. In most cases, small rises in the body’s cortisol levels aren’t much cause for alarm. But there are circumstances in which cortisol levels can spike—and remain high—that can lead to issues. Cortisol has a direct impact on your thyroid and insulin production, which means it’s a big trigger for diabetes, slow metabolisms, and weight gain.

The key thing when it comes to cortisol and weight gain is understanding how to recognize it in your own body. The easiest way to do this is with a small, quick checklist. 

Take a look at some of these symptoms below. Do any of them look familiar? 

  • Moodiness or emotional irregularity
  • Not enough sleep
  • Excessive sugar and carb cravings
  • Uncertainty about life events and work
  • Skipping or delaying meals
  • Overworking

If you’ve said yes to many of the above points, there’s a good chance that stress is playing a major role in your life, babe. And as we mentioned before, stress can elevate cortisol levels, which can, in turn, lead to weight gain. And while being heavier is not an automatic indication of health and happiness, close to 90% of women surveyed indicated that they were unhappy with their current weight. Almost half of the same women said that worrying about the food they eat on a daily basis causes them fear, worry, or unhappiness. 

Solving this issue can sometimes feel impossible. It's easy to say, “just stop worrying so much!” Ha! If only it were that easy, right? But you can’t always make a drastic change to your stress levels right away. As much as we’d like to, we can’t all just take a month off from our responsibilities to Eat, Pray, Love our worries away. So where does that leave you? Stressed and with no way to regain control of your weight?

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Well, we say no. For too long we’ve ignored our needs and our bodies in favor of everybody else. We’re too used to putting ourselves on the shelf; promising we’ll get to it but never actually following through. It's time to put ourselves first and get attuned to what our bodies really need.

Conquering Cortisol and Weight Gain

Here’s a quick fact that will blow your mind: contrary to popular belief, your metabolism is not getting slower as you get older. A new international study with over seven thousand participants has found that, when accounting for body size, the amount of energy expended by participants steadily declined after the age of twenty.

What does that mean in layman’s terms? It means that, unlike we’ve been led to believe, it’s not our metabolism slowing down that leads to middle-aged weight gain—it’s the fact that we move less than we did when we were kids. The same study found that we undergo another slowdown in terms of movement by the age of sixty.

A lot of this slowdown relates back to our sedentary lifestyles. The majority of us spend the day hunched over a keyboard or desk as a career, and with all the other pressures of life, it can be difficult to schedule time to exercise or practice movement. At the same time, it’s one of the most effective ways to keep the pesky extra pounds in check, not to mention what it does for your mental health.

Being active is a great way to cut down on stress; almost any kind of exercise can improve your overall sense of wellbeing. Physical activity boosts the brain’s production of feel-good endorphins, relieving the  “fight or flight” instinct that poses risk to your cardiovascular, digestive, and immune systems. 

The secret to creating healthy movement habits is to find something you enjoy. You don’t necessarily have to sign up to a gym: find a sports league, yoga class, or even a fitness YouTube channel that inspires you to take action for just a few minutes a day. You know all that time spent doom-scrolling on social media? Try dedicating just a third of that time to moving your body per week and see how your stress levels improve.

Now let’s talk about something else that can help you in the fight against cortisol and weight gain—something handy that you can reach for to refresh you as you work on your activity levels. 

Let’s talk about stress relief supplements. 

Holistic Stress Relief

Focusing on women 40-60 means we’ve been paying close attention to how women work, love, and live. Being midlife women ourselves means we also know what you’re looking for: something dependable and healthy that you can always reach for when life gets intense. When doesn't it? 

So why not make a formula that is delicious, natural, safe for daily use, and actively supports healthier hormones? That's exactly what we did. 

Our naturopathic supplements are made for emotional and hormonal support after 40. Less progesterone and more stress lead to many “symptoms” we attribute to aging, perimenopause, anxiety, and more. That’s why Wile targets stress hormones in addition to estrogen and progesterone. Wile looks at women and formulations holistically, because that’s how our bodies and nature really work.

Wile Women's Stress herbal supplement is an ongoing everyday way to manage cortisol fluctuations and the effects of them. It lowers day-to-day stress and mood swings and increases your resilience and overall sense of well-being. 

And if stress eating is a factor for you, try our Stave the Crave functional drink mix. It's made with adaptogenic mushrooms, beneficial herbs to help cut sugar cravings, create a feeling of satiety and actually reduce your stress levels and boost your resilience, unlike actual stress eating. 

The stress is real and so are the hormonal changes exacerbating it. Deep breaths, less stress.


Cody Stanford, Fatima. “Surprising Findings about Metabolism and Age.” Harvard Health, October 8, 2021.


This article is intended for informational purposes and is not intended to replace a one-on-one medical consultation with a professional. Wile, Inc researches and shares information and advice from our own research and advisors. We encourage every woman to research, ask questions and speak to a trusted health care professional to make her own best decisions.
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