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The Weight of Stress: How a Cortisol Reducing Diet Promotes Weight Loss and Longevity

stress and cortisol in Singapore leads to weight gain
The beautiful side of Singapore. The ugly, stressful side is clogging my arteries and adding belly fat in the form of a spare tire around my waist. See how a Cortisol reducing diet can help manage stress and your waistline.

Living in Singapore for the past five years has taught me a thing or two about stress. Is it a glamorous city? Sure. Is it one of the most contemporary urban environments in the world? Yeah. But that comes with a cost. It is also the living/breathing manifestation of the urban grind. It ages you. To be totally honest, it's not sustainable. Literally and figuratively, you can't live like this forever.

Nobody moves to Singapore to fulfill their dreams as an actor, a musician or an artist. The only reason anyone moves to Singapore is to work. Head down, nose to the grindstone. You feel it on the MRT, you hear at the bars and you see it in the food courts. Singapore is growing - And I don't mean population alone. I'm referring to it's waistline. Cortisol and stress lead to weight gain. I've been here since 2019 and my patients are getting bigger. Can it be entirely attributed to stress and cortisol levels? No, but it is certainly a factor.

In 2019 I never would have considered introducing my HCG 2.0 diet protocol to the Singaporean market, but things have changed. More an more patients are asking me about weight loss and my HCG Diet plan.

Understanding the Physiological Manifestations of Stress and How Your Diet Is a Critical Management Tool

Stress is an unavoidable part of life, but did you know it can significantly impact your weight? Often called the "silent killer," stress can lead to various health issues and weight gain through the hormone cortisol. Understanding how stress manifests in your body, the diseases it can cause, and how to manage cortisol levels is crucial for maintaining a healthy weight and overall well-being.

How Stress Manifests in Your Body

Our body’s autonomic nervous system has a built-in stress response, which causes physiological changes to allow us to handle stressful situations. This natural reaction, known as the “fight or flight response,” is activated in emergencies. However, when this response becomes chronically activated during prolonged periods of stress, it can cause significant physical and emotional wear and tear.

stress and anxiety leads to cortisol and weight gain
Apparently even guys with great hair get stressed out!!??

Symptoms of Stress

Chronic stress can wear down the body’s natural defences, leading to a variety of physical symptoms, including:

- Problems sleeping

- Racing heart

- Cold and sweaty palms

- Tiredness and exhaustion

- Trembling and shaking

- Weight gain or loss

- Upset stomach

- Sexual difficulties

- Headaches

- High blood pressure

- Chest pains

- Insomnia

Why Stress is Called the Silent Killer

Stress that continues without any relief can lead to a condition called “distress.” This negative reaction disrupts our internal balance, causing physical and emotional problems. Prolonged stress is linked to serious health issues and is a contributing factor to six of the leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, liver cirrhosis, and suicide. Because its effects can be gradual and subtle, stress often goes unnoticed until significant health problems arise, hence the term "silent killer."

Disease Processes Caused by Stress

Stress can provoke or exacerbate various diseases, including:

- Heart disease

- Cancer

- Lung ailments

- Accidents (due to impaired judgment or concentration)

- Liver cirrhosis

- Suicide

The Role of Cortisol in Stress and Weight Gain

When you're stressed, your body releases cortisol, a hormone that prepares you to handle the stressor. While this response is helpful in short bursts, chronic stress leads to prolonged elevated cortisol levels, which can contribute to weight gain in several ways:

  1. Increased Appetite: High cortisol levels can make you crave sugary and fatty foods, leading to overeating.

  2. Fat Storage: Cortisol promotes the storage of fat, particularly in the abdominal area, which is associated with various health risks.

  3. Muscle Breakdown: Elevated cortisol can lead to the breakdown of muscle tissue, slowing down your metabolism.

  4. Blood Sugar Imbalance: Cortisol affects insulin levels, causing blood sugar spikes and crashes, further promoting hunger and fat storage.

Lowering Cortisol Levels to Aid Weight Loss

Managing stress effectively is crucial for maintaining a healthy weight. Here are some strategies to help you lower stress and control cortisol levels:

Strategies to Lower Stress and Cortisol

  1. Regular Exercise: Physical activity helps lower cortisol levels and increases the production of endorphins, which are natural mood elevators.

  2. Mindfulness and Meditation: Practices like meditation and deep breathing can lower cortisol levels and improve overall well-being.

  3. Adequate Sleep: Quality sleep is essential for stress management and cortisol regulation.

  4. Balanced Diet: Eating the right foods can significantly affect your cortisol levels. If you've read my book, HCG 2.0 - Don't Starve, Eat Smart and Lose; A Modern Adaptation of the Traditional HCG Diet, you've heard me say that the foods that often contribute to weight gain are not our foods of choice, but our foods of convenience.

Foods that Lower Cortisol

  • Dark Chocolate: Consuming dark chocolate in moderation can help reduce cortisol levels and improve mood.

  • Fruits and Vegetables: Rich in antioxidants and vitamins, these help combat oxidative stress and lower cortisol.

  • Whole Grains: Foods like oats, quinoa, and brown rice provide steady energy and prevent blood sugar spikes.

  • Green Tea: Contains L-theanine, an amino acid that promotes relaxation and lowers cortisol.

  • Fatty Fish: Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fish like salmon and mackerel can help reduce inflammation and lower cortisol levels.

Foods that Raise Cortisol

What an ironic twist that all the quick and easy foods of convenience are also all the foods (and beverages) that raise cortisol. They're also the absolute default foods of everyone that is doing the daily grind.

The list below goes to show you that the good lord above or the universe, or whomever you say your prayers to has a wicked sense of humor, right? In fact, the list below is my average Tuesday.

  • Caffeine: Excessive intake can elevate cortisol levels.

  • Sugar: High sugar intake can cause blood sugar spikes and increase cortisol production. Processed sugars are America (and the world's) greatest enemy. Sugar feeds cancer. It has not place in the HCG Diet.

  • Alcohol: Can disrupt sleep and elevate cortisol levels. Let's be honest, alcohol isn't good for much. Sure is fun though, right? That said, there is a right way and a wrong way to imbibe while on the HCG Diet.

  • Processed Foods: High in unhealthy fats and additives, these can increase cortisol and stress. Everything that is quick and easy is likely highly processed. These are the foods that you find in the middle of the grocery store. They are designed for shelf-life, NOT your health. That's they they say shop the perimeters.

Supplements to Reduce Cortisol

There are also supplements that can help reduce cortisol levels:

  • Ashwagandha: An adaptogen that helps the body manage stress and reduce cortisol levels. This is found in my supplement Chill and my ZZZzzz-Time Supplement.

  • Rhodiola Rosea: Another adaptogen known for its stress-relieving properties.

  • Phosphatidylserine: A phospholipid that can reduce cortisol and improve mood.

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Found in fish oil, these can help lower cortisol and reduce inflammation. Tuna is one of the best food for your HCG 2.0 protocol. It has a PFC number of over 30.


Managing stress and cortisol levels is crucial for maintaining a healthy weight and overall well-being. By incorporating regular exercise, practicing mindfulness, ensuring adequate sleep, and eating a balanced diet rich in cortisol-lowering foods, you can better manage stress and support your weight loss goals. Supplements like ashwagandha, rhodiola rosea, phosphatidylserine, and omega-3 fatty acids can also help reduce cortisol levels.

Remember, the symptoms of stress are often overlooked but should not be. Chronic stress and elevated cortisol levels not only contribute to weight gain but also pose significant risks to your overall health. By taking proactive steps to manage stress, you can improve your health, happiness, and quality of life.

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