What is the most inflammatory food?

by | Jan 24, 2021 | 0 comments

I was recently asked what I consider to be the most inflammatory food. If you asked my pre-COVID, I would have a list of foods to avoid. Today, my answer is if you have to choose between a donut and a toxic relationship – eat the donut. Cortisol was a buzzword for the past few years in the medical community, but right now it is something we all need to understand. 

“Cortisol is a critical hormone with many actions in the body. Normally, cortisol is secreted by the adrenal glands in a pattern called a diurnal variation, meaning that levels of cortisol in the bloodstream vary depending upon the time of day (normally, cortisol levels are highest in the early morning and lowest around midnight). Cortisol is important for the maintenance of blood pressure as well as the provision of energy for the body. Cortisol stimulates fat and carbohydrate metabolism for fast energy, and stimulates insulin release and maintenance of blood sugar levels. The end result of these actions can be an increase in appetite and can cause cravings for sweet, high-fat, and salty foods. With elevated cortisol levels, the body also produces less testosterone, leading to a decrease in muscle mass. With less testosterone to build muscle mass, your body starts to burn fewer calories.

Cortisol has been termed the “stress hormone” because excess cortisol is secreted during times of physical or psychological stress, and the normal pattern of cortisol secretion (with levels highest in the early morning and lowest at night) can be altered. This disruption of cortisol secretion may not only promote weight gain, but it can also affect where you put on the weight in the body. Some studies have shown that stress and elevated cortisol tend to cause fat deposition in the abdominal area rather than in the hips. This fat deposition has been referred to as “toxic fat” since abdominal fat deposition is strongly correlated with the development of cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks and strokes.”

What are the four factors that can raise Cortisol to harmful levels.

  1. Overtraining
  2. Excessive Stress
  3. Poor Sleep
  4. Inadequate nutrition

This is why I recommend a yoga class and gentle meal plan coaching. It is challenging to get any food right now. If we try restrict ourselves with a meal plan it can be more stressful.  

It is also one of the reasons why someone with a low calorie diet might not get the results they’re looking for on the scale. A restrictive low calorie diet falls under inadequate nutrition and excessive stress when considering what affects cortisol. It’s one of the biggest reasons why we don’t start this process with a meal plan. 

Finding success on the scale requires a different approach. Maybe you’ll find success with a delicious piece of french bread for breakfast, or maybe a meal plan with no bread is best.  The good news is that a customized program focused on a gentle coaching style that we’ve adopted is working.  We look forward to sharing more success stories like Katherine’s as 2021 unfolds. 

Owner and Founder of Empower Fitness,

Nicole Kefalas


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