Most of the time when you hear about cortisol it’s about how it messes up your hormone levels, causing you to lose muscle and gain fat.
While this might be true, if our cortisol levels are too low we can begin feeling very tired.
Obviously, we don’t want our physiques to get worse, but we also want to avoid feeling too tired to even get out of bed in the morning.
Today we are going to talk about cortisol and how you can keep your levels manageable so you still have energy but continue to make gains.
As you probably know, cortisol is a hormone that is produced when the body gets stressed out – either emotionally or physically.
Additionally, cortisol levels follow naturally daily rhythms.
For example, they increase in the morning to remind us to get out of bed and get to work or school.
In fact, cortisol levels tend to peak at around 8 or 9 am and slowly decrease during the day.
What most people aren’t aware of is just why cortisol helps the body deal with stress.
Now, keep in mind this is the result of evolutionary biology – your body still thinks it is living in a society where there is a risk of getting eaten alive by a giant tiger every day.
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Obviously, this isn’t the case for the vast majority of people in the world in the modern age, but unfortunately our bodies haven’t adjusted.
When your body has a stress response to a particular situation, it shuts down certain functions such as reproduction and immune system in order to give the rest of your body more energy to deal with the stressful situation at hand.
Of course, this isn’t a long-lasting source of energy but rather a short burst.
This is where the expression “going on adrenaline” comes from – you are able to go above and beyond your normal capabilities because your body is diverting extra energy to help you get through the stress.
Why is this a problem?
You are probably wondering “Hey if it’s only temporary then why is this a problem?After all, it’s natural for cortisol levels to rise at certain times during the day.”
When your cortisol levels are up, your body actually stops insulin from moving nutrients into cells, instead leaving it floating around the blood stream.
This is meant to provide you with extra energy for, say, running away from that tiger. However, it doesn’t really help you much with paying your overdo credit card balance.
As mentioned earlier, when your cortisol levels are high other functions of your body are reduced.
For example, your immune system doesn’t work as effectively and you aren’t able to produce as much testosterone since energy is being sent to specifically to deal with the stress.
As a result, when you are frequently stressed out you also tend to get sick more frequently and lose muscle mass since your hormone levels are out of whack.
In fact, it is commonly known that high stress levels will increase your chance of coming down with a major illness or disease!
How it Impacts your Gains
When you go to the gym and lift weights, you are essentially breaking down muscle tissue so that your body can rebuild it later.
Your body responds by putting on more muscle mass in order to deal with the increased stress that it will likely have to endure.
That’s why progressive overload is so important – your body has to keep building larger muscles in order to respond to the ever-increasing stress placed on it.
While this process works great when you are eating clean and lifting heavy, it can seriously get derailed when your stress levels are high.
Remember that high cortisol levels tell your body to slow down all non-essential functions.
Do you think that building larger muscles is an essential function? While we might think so, the body doesn’t agree.
In fact, the body doesn’t want to change much at all at the best of times – so why would it continue to do so in the face of stress?
Instead, your body doesn’t even bother to rebuild the muscle tissue.
As a result, your muscles don’t grow and you end up spinning your wheels at the gym.
Your body is so busy diverting energy to deal with all the stress in your life that it doesn’t take any time to fight off infections, produce additional testosterone and build muscle.
Not to mention when you feel stressed out your sleep tends to suffer which is when your body does the most of its hormone production.
Dealing with Stress
Given that we don’t really need all that extra energy since you probably don’t have a tiger chasing you right now, there really is no benefit to letting your cortisol levels spike.
If you are feeling stressed out and nervous, you need to make it your top priority to get it under control.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can get your stress levels under control and get your body functioning normally again.
The first thing you will want to do is identify sources of stress in your life and remove them.
If you are working tons of overtime at your job in order to get promoted, see if you can get your working hours reduced, or try to find a way to get things done more efficiently.
While earning more money is great, if it comes at the expense of your health and physique you might decide later on that it really wasn’t worth it.
Second, try taking up some more activities that are relaxing.
Yoga, meditation and exercise in general are great ways to reduce your stress.
Often when we are busy with work we tend to neglect physical activity however actually doing some will help keep us on track!
Make sure you don’t do excessive amounts of training though (in other words, don’t overtrain) as that will also increase your cortisol levels and only increase the negative impact.
Finally, take a testosterone boosting supplement.
These products use ingredients that are proven to boost testosterone production naturally and safely.
Remember that one of the characteristics of high testosterone levels is increased confidence and energy.
Often the cause of our stress is a lack of confidence and not having enough energy to get the job done on time.
If, however, you approach your life with a confident, energetic attitude you might find that the things that used to stress you out all of a sudden don’t bother you too much.
Prevent Cortisol production
While cortisol definitely serves a purpose in helping us deal with short-term challenges that come up, at the end of the day you want to make sure your levels are under control.
Eat a clean and healthy diet, go to the gym 3-5 times per week and do resistance training and take a testosterone booster.
Testosterone and cortisol are opposites so by increasing testosterone production you can lower cortisol.
That way you will build muscle faster and prevent your muscles from melting away.
If you follow these key tips day in and day out you will be well on your way to avoiding the negative impacts of out-of-control cortisol levels.
After all, if you are in good shape you will be in a much better position to get away from that tiger that wants to eat you compared to the fat dude with low testosterone levels!
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