Lets take a step back and look at what stress is first.
Stress is a natural human response to pressure when faced with challenging and sometimes dangerous situations. That pressure is not only about what’s happening around you, but often also about the demands we place on ourselves.
If stress lasts a long time or overwhelms us, our ability to cope with the following can be affected on our health, well being, relationships, work and general enjoyment of life.
With that in mind have you heard of Cortisol?
Cortisol is often called the stress hormone because of it’s direct connection to the body’s response to stress. Have you ever noticed that when you’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed, you also suffer from feeling exhausted? That is the effect of hormones such as cortisol. This feeling of been exhausted sometime also leads to getting a scratchy throat an even fall ill?
Cortisol is a steroid hormone. It is made in the cortex of the adrenal glands and then released into the blood which transports it around our body. Almost every cell contains receptors for cortisol. This mean cortisol can have a lots of different affects depending on which sort of cells it is acting upon.
One of the major effects cortisol can have on you results is, its ability to influence the regulation of the body’s blood sugar levels. The flow on effect of this is our body cannot regulate our metabolism correctly. Cortisol also has an effect on the body’s ability to remember information, to fight inflammation, control salt and water balance, influence our blood pressure and if pregnant it can even affect the development of a foetus.
An interesting fact I found while looking in to cortisol is that in many species cortisol is believed to be responsible for triggering the processes involved in giving birth.
Another major effect of cortisol is, it’s a catabolic (breaking) hormone, one that induces muscle breakdown and visceral fat gain, slows down the immune system, and lowers testosterone levels in this process. That is where cortisol is damaging to your results.
The opposite of being catabolic or in a Catabolism state, is Anabolic, this process in the body is defined as anabolism.
The definition of anabolism is a constructive metabolism; the synthesis in living organisms of more complex substances from simpler ones (opposed to catabolism).
In simpler terms Catabolic is a destructive state to the body and results, Anabolic is a constructive state to the body and results.
As a flow on effect from the above is that Cortisol and testosterone are linked to each process mentioned above.
“Cortisol and testosterone are somewhat opposite sides of the coin… Cortisol is almost like an “enemy” when you’re interested in keeping your testosterone levels high.”
The above statement is partly true, but we also have to remember that cortisol is not completely useless to our bodies, it’s there for a reason.
One reason we need Cortisol is that it is the hormone that wakes us up in the morning, it’s deeply involved in the muscle glycocen storage/release process, and without cortisol humans would still be probably crawling instead of walking.
The fact of the matter is we need to have certain amount of cortisol for some of our most basic functions. Our body is pretty good at protecting itself from the negative effects after all it has to protect itself for us to survive.
The problems start when your cortisol levels are elevated for prolonged periods of time. A situation we are seeing all too common these days in gyms. There is a large number of people who eat to much processed food, which creates a lacks of nutrients we need for a healthy body, ad chronic stress to that and you have a horrible mix.
I personally believe that most of us due to a number of circumstances have got too much cortisol circulating in our bloodstreams……And thats not good news for your Results.
Below is 5 different methods to stay in an anabolic state.
1. Train Smart
Working out is a great way to stay healthy. It’s also an excellent way to increase your body’s natural production of all hormones including testosterone and growth hormone.
However there’s few factors that you NEED to take into consideration…
…Firstly, endurance training is notorious for skyrocketing cortisol production, whereas it also significantly lowers testosterone levels.
…Secondly, even though strength training is linked to increased testosterone production, too much of its will backfire. How? Simple most people over train. Overtraining skyrockets cortisol and plummets testosterone as mentioned before. That makes it damn hard to build any noticeable strength gains or amounts of muscle
Bottom line: the maintain your progression to your goals you have to some what learn to maximize a good amount of testosterone and reduce cortisol levels. Training methods I use with my client is to do intense and relatively short strength training sessions ideally 2-4 times a week. When it comes to cardio, quick bouts of high interval intensity training over endurance training like Tabata work outs.
2. Don’t go Crazy with Caffeine
Drinking copious amounts of coffee isnt going to help you.
Even though caffeine ingestion pre-workout is scientifically proven to increase testosterone levels by on average 15%, it’s also a proven fact that caffeine directly stimulates the adrenal cortex to release cortisol into the bloodstream. Annoying I know!
In this study they found out that 800 mg’s of caffeine before a work out was enough to increase cortisol by up to 44%.
Bottom line: Caffeine is OK, if you have balanced cortisol levels, but if you suffer from high cortisol and/or chronic stress, I would be wise to monitor the amounts of caffeine you intake.
3. Vitamin C
Multiple studies have found out that vitamin C supplementation after exercise helps clear cortisol but more importantly enhances recovery
The researchers in this study, found out that when vitamin C is administered before a stressful situation (in this study it was public speaking) it blunts the stress induced rise in cortisol. There has also been a few animal studies that have linked vitamin C to increased testosterone production.
4. Sleep More
Lowering cortisol can be as simple as sleeping more. Sleep is great for everything really.
Sleeping more is not only good if you want to decrease cortisol and stress, it’s also one of the best ways to increase your natural testosterone production…
If you cant get enough sleep think about power naps
Keep an eye out for my blog on sleep next week!
Quite possibly the best way to reduce cortisol levels naturally is by relaxation.
Once the feelings of stress start to decrease, cortisol does the same.
For example, there is many studies that show meditation significantly lowers cortisol levels like this one (https://www.anabolicmen.com/how-to-lower-cortisol/)
So for those who don’t already take some time out of your busy schedule and just relax a bit. My suggestion is look in to Floating
So when you’re under stress and your cortisol levels are increased not only does this elevation of cortisol compromise your immune system, it also interrupts your ability to rest and relax thus aiding in losing a percentage of you results!!
If you need some help with finding the right training or would like to learn more about how we at Motion Fitness can help you improve your result contact us Via Face book or on 0404 307 448