Your Stress Levels are killing your workouts…

Your stress levels are killing you…

No really, they are.  Cortisol is the stress hormone.  And while it’s often not discussed in length in many fitness circles, it’s an important one and can really have a make or break on your personal well being.

So what exactly is cortisol?

Cortisol is a steroidal hormone that’s produced and the adrenal gland.  Cortisol is produced in humans in response to stress and lower blood glucose concentration.  Essentially, it’s produced when your own blood sugar levels drop out or when you are stressed out, or extremely fatigued.

Cortisol is excreted to suppress the immune system and to help the storage of fats protein spin carbohydrates during periods of stress and load blood sugar.  Supressed immune system is obviously not beneficial to your health and can lead to a ton of extraneous issues but it’s not the only reason to worry about how cortisol can affect your workouts.

Elevated levels of this stress hormone can lead to the breakdown to proteins and muscle wasting in the human body.  This means less gains.  More muscle wastage.  Not only that, but cortisol can reduce bone and collagen (connective tissue) regeneration leaving you more prone to injury.

Cortisol on the stress response also been shown to decrease the rate of healing with wounds and physiological injuries: meaning slower healing times and less resistance to pathogens, virus’s and bacteria.

High levels of cortisol have also been linked with major mood disorders such as depression and anxiety. Proving how crucial containing this hormone is to not only our physical but mental well being.

To recap:

when our blood sugar bottoms out, we are exhausted or stressed out our body floods us with gain crushing muscle wasting cortisol.   This is an issue for anyone trying to progress at the gym and doing a number of things right but one crucial things wrong:  not managing Cortisol.

how can we tell if our cortisol is at a dangerous level?  The first and most effective route, of course, through blood testing with a medical practitioner but here are a few signs that you may be at risk.

  • weight gain, especially around the stomach (this can happen despite modifying your workout or dieting regime)

  • a puffy, flushed face

  • increased mood swings or anxiety

  • extreme fatigue (even while feeling energized)

  • improper sleeping patterns

  • irregular menstrual cycles for women

  • increased blood pressure (as cortisol can narrow the pathways of the circulatory system)

  • skin irregularities or acne

  • higher rates of muscle injury or bone fractures

  • inexplicable muscle aches or pains

  • Sex drive fluctuations

  • Being overly thirsty

  • increased urination

  • Being sick more often than normal due to the downregulation of your immune system

Some of the major contributing factors to having a higher level of cortisol can be:

  • Depression

  • spending too much time at the gym

  • Improper diet

  • addiction (alcohol or drug abuse)

  • Elevated levels of estrogen

  • Improper diet or eating disorders

  • kidney or liver disease

  • hyperthyroidism

  • obesity

  • pregnancy or taking birth control pills

  • Excessive inflammation caused by a recent surgery, viral infection, sickness ect.

  • Job or family stress

Managing cortisol

What can we do to ensure our hard-made gains at the gym are kept and our bodies are kept in line with healthy cortisol levels?

-eat immediately post workout to replenish blood sugar and decrease cortisol levels to avoid the muscle wasting process.

-supplement with Magnesium and Omega Three Fatty Acids

-Laugh more, joke more, complain less…  like actually.  Laughing and feelings of joy are actual sure-fire ways to help reduce cortisol within your body by the secretion of growth hormone.  It’s science.  So don’t be so grump and catch a funny movie with friends or your significant other more often.  Maybe hit up a comedy club.  Your cortisol levels with thank you for it.

-Higher dosages of vitamin C (consult with a doctor first) have been show to reduce cortisol levels in studies.

-Sleep more!  Lack of sleep is one of the major causes of higher levels of cortisol in the human body.  Get at least 7 hours a night, consistently.  It is as important for recovery and building muscle as the act of working out itself.

-Intense or prolonged aerobic exercises increase cortisol levels.  However, cortisol declines to normal levels after eating.  Limit your time in the gym to manageable levels, eat immediately after training whenever possible.

-Avoid stressful people and situations and meditate more.  Meditation has also been shown to have massive and profound effects on human cortisol levels.  Suffer from high stress?  Taking the time to learn management techniques not only benefits your brain, but your body too.

-Don’t go on benders…  A person has to enjoy life, but regular overconsumption of alcohol is not helping you achieve your fitness goals.  Regular and prolonged consumption of alcohol has been directly linked to elevated cortisol levels through various studies.  And you thought you were winding down…

-Sip BCAA’s while and after you train to replenish BCAA levels in the muscle and help induce a regulation of cortisol post workout.

-Maintain a solid diet.  Eating like crap won’t only make you look like crap, it will also make you feel like crap by significantly raising your bodies cortisol levels.  Your body wants the healthy stuff.  Healthy for the body and mind.  Aim for whole foods, lots of veggies, complex carbs, and lean proteins.

By | 2018-01-13T21:57:33+00:00 January 13th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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