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Real Life Nutrition Questions Answered

Real Life Fitness Questions Answered

Emma Brown

Janet Aylott

Kelly Marshall
Fitness Consultant


Does exercise create cortisol that enhances fat storage?

Hi, I weigh 9 stone 4 and still have wobbly bits around my middle. I have read that this is the worst place to store fat so I have been going to the gym, doing classes and running to get rid of it. Now I read that exercise creates cortisol, which 'encourages' the body to store fat. Is this true? If so, is exercising such a good idea???


Our expert says...


Firstly, let me clarify clearly that regular, moderate, balanced exercise DOES NOT cause cortisol levels that would encourage fat storage. The hormone cortisol has many functions and its main involvement is with stress. It is the hormone that is released as a result of long-term stress on the body. Stress can consist of emotional stress (grieving, anxiety), physical stress (fatigue, lack of sleep, physical harm/illness) and when the body faces a constant barrage of stress for a prolonged period of time the stress hormone cortisol is released as a protective response. This is not about exercise though; it is about the balance of everything in someone’s life, their perception of stress, their ability to cope with stress and their ability to listen to their body.

Exercise could of course be a ‘stressor’ but only if you were essentially doing constant high-intensity training – consecutive days, without proper rest, sleep and nutrition, where you were suppressing your immune system and pushing your body beyond reasonable function. Doing the gym, classes and running is excellent variety and with you using the website for your nutrition I can assure you that you are NOT at risk of having any cortisol influence from your exercise. Keep up the exercise and you will shift the fat from around your middle.

Hope this helps,


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