Cortisol - The stress hormone and its effects
Cortisol is a hormone within the body which is responsible for stress. We need cortisol to help trigger our body to go in to a relaxing state after stressful situations. Cortisol levels increase when we get stressed and in our everyday modern life stress and tension are very common and often unavoidable, especially in our day to day jobs and the lifestyle we lead.
High cortisol levels lead to:
- 1. Impaired cognitive performance
- 2. Suppressed thyroid function
- 3. Blood sugar imbalances such as hyperglycemia
- 4. Decreased bone density
- 5. Decrease in muscle tissue
- 6. Higher blood pressure
- 7. Lowered immunity and inflammatory responses in the body, slowed wound healing, and other health consequences
- 8. Increased abdominal fat
Now all of these problems are worrying and do effect our health but I want to focus on decreased muscle tissue and increased abdominal fat.
Cortisol is a stress hormone that can eat away at muscle tissue. So the more stressed out you are the less gains you’re going to make because cortisol is slowly eating away at muscle tissue. This is not to say that if you’re stressed in the day you’re going to be a skeleton by night. Cortisol can eat away at muscle tissue and hinder our gains, which is what we don’t want especially as we are working hard in the gym.
Cortisol also plays a massive part in the storage of fat especially around the abdomen. With this in mind we can see why cortisol levels should be kept at a low especially if we have building muscle and fat loss as our goals. Cortisol can and will prevent us from losing those extra pounds and even gaining them pounds of muscle. Every single person has different levels of cortisol secretion within their body and people react differently to cortisol levels. Studies have shown that people who have higher secretion of cortisol are more than likely to eat food especially those which are high in carbohydrates.
- 1. Cut your workouts to 45-60 minutes
- 2. Don’t do excessive amounts of steady state cardio
- 3. Get at least 8-9 hours of sleep per day
- 4. Remove gluten out of your diet.
- 5. Supplement with ZMA. This will help you relax, recover and sleep better which will lower cortisol levels as well as increase testosterone levels within the body.