How Cushing’s Affects Your Weight

How Cushing’s Affects Your Weight

Hey, everyone!

People often ask about diet and exercise on my support page, Crush Cushing’s. It’s a tricky topic because there are different types of Cushing’s (florid versus cyclic), but generally, the answer is quite simple for most of our situations.

With Cushing’s, usually no diet or type of exercise will help with weight loss or prevent symptoms from forming.

I’m not a scientific or medical expert, but based on my personal experience, others’ experiences, and what my two doctors have said, nothing will improve until someone’s specific line of treatment is carried out and deemed successful.

One reason exercise and diets don’t really work for people with Cushing’s is the high levels of cortisol (stress hormone) running through the body. Even people without Cushing’s who have lots of stress have a hard time losing weight. Why? They struggle because they have elevated levels of cortisol.

These individuals don’t have nearly as much cortisol elevation as Cushing’s patients do. Their levels are just slightly elevated, which makes it more difficult to lose extra fat, especially around the abdomen. If “normal” people with slightly higher levels of cortisol have a hard time, so will we — big time. Don’t be too hard on yourself. I know it’s easier said than done.

When it comes to diet, it’s a loaded answer, so I’ll try to condense it.

Our endocrine system has control centers — the glands. They tell our 50 different hormones, which are “chemical messengers,” what to do. The second a hormone is told to do the wrong thing (for example, excess cortisol secretion), it automatically starts sending signals too early or late — out of sync.

Metabolism is controlled by the hormone system. If hormones are getting the wrong signals and not working when and how they should, metabolism won’t either. If a body is improperly metabolizing food, it won’t turn into whatever it’s supposed to in our bodies — muscle, energy, fat storage, or waste. That is just one of the many different reasons a diet won’t work. There’s a lot more, but you can always ask your endocrinologist for a more detailed rundown if you want to understand your body better.

I also want to quickly touch base on those who have cyclical Cushing’s. Some of you are probably going, “Catarina, I’m losing weight. You don’t know what you’re talking about!”

I’ve met quite a few cyclic patients who stated they were able to lose weight when they were low in cortisol and gained weight when they were high in it, but after a while, this cycle didn’t let them lose weight anymore. They just constantly kept gaining, but not at the frequency of someone who has florid Cushing’s. So, it is possible, but it’s unsustainable and unrealistic for a majority of patients who have Cushing’s.

That’s the best I could do on that subject condensed without confusing you guys or creating an essay. I hope you learned plenty!

If you ever have any topics you’d like to see covered, shoot me a message on Instagram (linked in the first paragraph), and I’ll do my best to cover it to the best of my ability!

See you guys next week!




Note: Cushing’s Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cushing’s Disease News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Cushing’s disease.

24-year-old Cushing’s Disease Survivor. Creator of @CrushCushings. Aiming to find ways to support Cushing’s sufferers and raise awareness.
24-year-old Cushing’s Disease Survivor. Creator of @CrushCushings. Aiming to find ways to support Cushing’s sufferers and raise awareness.

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  1. DENNIS OBRIEN says:

    I have Cushing’s Disease which was diagnosed in 2013. Unfortunately the tumour on my Pituitary Gland must be small as it can’t be picked up by MRI, of which I have had many.

    I am on Ketaconazole and test regularly to ensure cortisone levels are OK and the liver is not being damaged.

    I have consistently been careful with my diet. I did not lose weight initially then I lost 20g. However I gained 8 kg in the past couple of years.

    Whilst my cortisol levels are on average in the normal range, I think the levels are not varying cyclically as they should.

    I am limited in exercises I can do, because of three compression fractures of the spine, a ruptured Achilles’ tendon which could not be operated on, and also a DVT and PE. I do swim and take walks.

    Any ideas on how I can lose weight?

  2. Eric says:

    I was diagnosed with Cushing’s disease in August of 2018. I went to the hospital and was admitted because of my heart rate. A MRI was done and a massive tumor was found behind my eye emergency surgery was done a week later because if not done I was going blind. I was diagnosed with Cushing’s after part was removed and I had a second surgery a few months later. I let it go for many years before it was discovered I have been told it’s the most advanced stage with Cushing’s that’s been done. it broke my bones in my back.

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