Cortisol is often referred too as our bodies stress hormone. It plays a crucial role in numerous functions within the body, such as regulating metabolism and controlling blood sugar levels. However while cortisol plays a critical role for our bodies; In the context of muscle gain and fat loss, cortisol can be our arch nemesis.
So, Is Cortisol Killing Your Gains?
In short, yes and no. As mentioned previously, cortisol plays some pretty functional roles within the body. However, high levels of cortisol can be detrimental.
High levels of cortisol within the body can attribute to the following:
- Reduced growth hormone and testosterone production.
- Impaired learning and memory.
- Reduced muscle mass (catabolic).
- Increased abdominal fat.
- Immune system problems.
- Reduced glucose utilization.
None of these is particularly advantageous to getting that lean ripped physique most of us are after.
What is the Cause of High Cortisol?
There are numerous contributing factors to high cortisol levels, especially in today's day and age. Such factors include:
Cortisol is often referred to as the stress hormone, this is because it is one of the two primary hormones released when the body is exposed to an external or internal stressor.
Basically speaking, when the body is exposed to stress, our body signals the release of hormones from the adrenal glands, two of these hormones are adrenaline and cortisol. These two hormones are released in order to immediately deal with the stressor.
However, when cortisol levels are high, it inhibits many of the body's functions which it deems to be non-essential at that point, such as growth, metabolism speed and immune responses.
Typically this natural response commonly referred to as fight or flight is self-regulating. Enabling itself to turn on and off when needed. However, when the body is constantly exposed to this stress, it is unable to turn off this cortisol release. Leading to a constant high level of cortisol within the body and all of its negative side effects.
Sleep is where our body recovers from the stress of the day, it is also where cortisol and other chemical hormones typically balance out. Have either not enough or an interrupted sleep will increase fatigue and stress, adding to the situation.
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While high cortisol can often lead to the feeling of lethargy, caffeine is sometimes the easy way out to feeling energetic for a while.
However, in reality, the increase in stimulant intake is only contributing to the problem. Every time we consume caffeine it triggers the cortisol reaction of signalling our adrenal glands to secrete cortisol and significantly elevating the levels of cortisol in our blood.
Excess consumption of caffeine can eventually lead to adrenal fatigue. Which is essentially where to body is unable to provide a sufficient response to stimulants. Leaving you feeling in a constant state of lethargy.
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Managing cortisol levels isn't always easy, this is mainly because many of the quick fix solutions to escape the lethargic feelings of high cortisol, such as coffee often extend the issue.
However here are a few tips you can try to help reduce your cortisol levels:
- Even Meals: Ensuring you are feeding your body adequately. Break up your diet into smaller meals throughout the day instead of the conventional three meals. This is going to help with giving you a constant flow of energy, reducing your chance of feeling lethargic in between meals and searching for caffeine.
- Lower Caffeine Intake: This is sometimes easier said than done, but lowering you caffeine and gradually tapering it off will help reduce the lethargic feelings of adrenal fatigue.
- Rest: Rest is key, cortisol production levels typically level out whilst asleep, so ensuring you are getting a solid 8 hours is key.
- Exercise: Increasing lean muscle mass helps with the output of serotonin and dopamine. These chemicals are known to help reduce anxiety and depression.
Can Supplements Help?
Yes! Absolutely Spartansuppz stock a wide range of supplements that can help lower cortisol levels and stress, as well as products which will help increase lean muscle.
Some products include:Cort RX - ATP Science.
Cort RX is specifically designed to help lower cortisol levels. Cort Rx is a well-formulated blend of herbs known for promoting stress reduction and improving immune health.
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Primeval Labs - Neanderthal.
Not only is Neanderthal going to promote the growth of lean muscle tissue, but it also contains Ashwagandha, a natural extract known to reduce stress and anxiety.
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OptiMen - Optimum Nutrition.
Ensuring you have a solid diet is a big key to lowering cortisol and increasing well being, adding a well-dosed multivitamin into the mix will help speed up the recovery process.
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