Question: While my cortisol levels are still high, is there anything I can do with my diet or exercise to keep my weight from increasing and loosing more strength? Is protein intake important?
Answer: With excessive cortisol levels, diet and exercise are important to keep from gaining weight and losing more muscle strength. A nutritious diet with a multivitamin supplement is recommended, usually the diet should not exceed 1000 to 1200 calories per day. It is important that the balanced diet contain adequate protein, however excessive protein intake probably will not make much difference in muscle strength since excessive cortisol causes protein (muscle) breakdown. Since patients are usually treated soon after diagnosis, no studies have evaluated the effect of a high protein diet.
Regarding exercise, the best type of exercise is that which is not stressful to the skeletal system. For example, swimming and bicycle riding are good exercises. Jogging and lifting weights are probably not a good idea since this does place stress on the skeleton (bones). Additionally, a calcium supplement is important. The recommended amount of approximately 1500 mg of elemental calcium per day can be achieved by taking 4 Tums Ultra or 3 tablets OsCal 500.
By Dr. Mary Lee Vance MD (Summer, 1999)