Stress, Cortisol, Water and Dieting

I see this a lot. A dieter will be pushing hard; low calories, high cardio/training expenditure, lots of posts about “the grind”.

Fat loss is moving along at a good clip then suddenly they hit a plateau; they look watery, tired, and workouts begin to suffer.

They might still be losing fat, but cortisol-induced water retention is masking it. So they double down on their efforts and drive themselves into the ground even more. Psychological stress kicks in if it hasn’t already, and adds to the physical stress. The situation gets progressively worse and the scales won’t budge.

The answer/ fix to this isn’t working harder, it’s knowing that you need a break. Just one day off from training and cardio can have a huge impact on lowering cortisol (though two days off is often better), especially in conjunction with some sort of carbohydrate refeed. This will also help other diet-induced negative hormonal adaptations as well, which is very important.

Listen to your body. If you don’t have a diet coach, do your research, don’t diet blindly.

Diet smarter, not harder.