Getting A Grip On Cortisol - AnabolicMinds.com
    • Getting A Grip On Cortisol



      By John Kiefer Flex

      When you want to get as ripped and jacked as humanly possible, there’s not a lot of margin for error. What this really means is that you need to know your enemies. One prime example of this concept is the hormone cortisol.

      Ask any bodybuilder—even the top guys in the world—and they’ll tell you cortisol is some kind of “death hormone” that they try to avoid like the plague. Why? Because cortisol breaks stuff down, and the last thing any bodybuilder wants is for a highly destructive hormone to be running through his body, creating a massively catabolic environment.

      There’s more to the story, however. As it turns out, cortisol may not be as evil as we’ve been led to believe—and since pretty much everyone in the game is still on the anti-cortisol and anti-long-duration training session bandwagon, it’s time to revisit some of the reasons that our perspective on cortisol has been so far off for so long.

      CORTISOL PRIMER

      Cortisol belongs to a class of hormones called glucocorticoids (GCs), and it’s important to stipulate here that nearly all GCs share the properties I’ll be discussing. GCs are essential hormones in your body. When they’re released at the proper time, and in the proper amounts, they regulate your immune function, and they may help to repair tendons and ligaments. In fact, they may actually accelerate the fatburning process, too.

      Still, we’ve been afraid of cortisol for decades because of its ability to waste away muscle tissue. Even short bursts of GCs will cause this to happen. When your GCs are elevated for extended periods of time, or at the wrong times, it’s even worse for you. At that point, they can suppress your immune system, prevent your body from burning fat, and increase hunger.

      It gets worse. Once GCs have done what I’ve already listed, it’ll then target other hormones. They adversely affect the fat-mobilizing ability of leptin—as well as potentially eradicating the hunger control benefits of ghrelin. They’ll even decrease your testosterone levels.

      That’s a long list of negatives. When viewed together like this,

      It’s no surprise that these adverse effects have scared the crap out of the bodybuilding community for so long. On the surface, it appears as though nothing good can come from any of it.

      UPON REEXAMINATION, HOWEVER

      Here’s the thing, though. Aside from the negatives, most of us don’t have the faintest notion of what else cortisol does, so we simply fear it and avoid it. Most nutrition books offer no useful information other than using changes in cortisol levels as evidence that what they’re telling you is working—operating on the assumption, of course, that higher levels of cortisol are automatically a bad thing.

      Under normal conditions, your cortisol will rise rhythmically throughout the night, peaking first thing in the morning.

      When you wake up in the morning, your body is primed to begin burning fat before you eat. Cortisol is a key part of this process. Your body will be operating in the absence of both carbs and insulin, and when there’s no insulin present, cortisol doesn’t attack your muscle. When acting without insulin, cortisol triggers the breakdown of triglycerides into free-fatty acids (FFAs) for metabolisation, a process known as lipolysis. Without insulin, cortisol is an incredibly effective fat burner. In other words, skip breakfast.

      Elevated cortisol levels during training isn’t necessarily a bad thing, either. Research has shown that the higher the cortisol response you elicit, the greater the anabolic effect your session will give you. Additional research in the Journal of Applied Physiology and Chronobiolog showed that having high cortisol during training lowers cortisol levels at “bad” times—in the presence of insulin—for up to 24 hours.

      REAL TALK: WHEN TO AVOID IT

      It’s a proven fact that your GC levels will become elevated in response to both mental and physical stress, and that chronic stress will keep your GC levels high for long periods of time. By chronic stress, I’m referring to both emotional stress and excessive physical activity. This is especially important when you’re dieting, because dieting can be both mentally and physically stressful, causing your GC levels to elevate as you change your nutritional regimen.

      When you’re trying to lose body fat, your stress levels can make this whole process a lot more diffcult than it should be. Avoid this situation by avoiding extremes. For bodybuilders, my carb back-loading system is tailormade for stress-free fat loss and muscle gain, so I’d suggest taking a look if you’re cortisol-phobic.

      By timing your workouts correctly—training in the evening causes a lower cortisol response than normal, leaving your other hormones alone (or elevating them)—and avoiding breakfast until your cortisol levels return to normal, you can use correct nutrition to essentially pick and choose which cells (muscle or fat) get bigger and smaller.

      Finally, we need to address all the talk you’re hearing about limiting your workouts to an hour or less in order to mitigate your elevated cortisol levels. If you think this is a problem, check the research, but it runs contrary to common industry wisdom. A significant number of studies have shown that extending your sessions, and your elevated cortisolresponse, will actually boost the anabolic effects of your workouts. Again, know your enemy—and more important, know why.

      - See more at: http://www.flexonline.com/nutrition/....hc7mniO6.dpuf
      Comments 18 Comments
      1. wastedwhiteboy2's Avatar
        wastedwhiteboy2 -
        Skip breakfast? This is nuts.
      1. fueledpassion's Avatar
        fueledpassion -
        If ur doing IF dieting, not really though.

        Drink BCAA's during fasted period and ur good. No muscle loss, extended fat burning.
      1. IRONPOPE's Avatar
        IRONPOPE -
        intermittent fasting if u r cutting skipping breakfast is what works
      1. wiseman's Avatar
        wiseman -
        Originally Posted by fueledpassion View Post
        If ur doing IF dieting, not really though.

        Drink BCAA's during fasted period and ur good. No muscle loss, extended fat burning.
        But BCAAs increase insulin, no?
      1. fueledpassion's Avatar
        fueledpassion -
        Originally Posted by wiseman View Post

        But BCAAs increase insulin, no?
        Actually, Leucine does not need insulin to make it to the muscle cell and exact its anabolic properties on the cell.

        I think the insulin response is null. I'll have to verify that but I'm thinking its more broscience than anything.

        Also, just use leucine, because isoleucine competes with leucine and reduces its uptake into the muscle by as much as 40%.
      1. wiseman's Avatar
        wiseman -
        Originally Posted by fueledpassion View Post

        Actually, Leucine does not need insulin to make it to the muscle cell and exact its anabolic properties on the cell.

        I think the insulin response is null. I'll have to verify that but I'm thinking its more broscience than anything.

        Also, just use leucine, because isoleucine competes with leucine and reduces its uptake into the muscle by as much as 40%.
        Thanks for the input. I've just read that leucine is what causes the increase in insulin which is why whey spikes insulin as much as white bread.
      1. fueledpassion's Avatar
        fueledpassion -
        Originally Posted by wiseman View Post

        Thanks for the input. I've just read that leucine is what causes the increase in insulin which is why whey spikes insulin as much as white bread.
        But BCAA's really doesnt cause a crash in blood sugar like white breads can.

        Just sip on them alittle bit either before the end of the fast or load up on them throught the feeding period.
      1. HITFrank's Avatar
        HITFrank -
        I have skipped the EAA and BCAA's during the fasting period. Read the article again, no aminos or protein during the fast. I just take my Shred XT for my caffeine, since I don't like coffee, with my MCT's or Heavy Wipping Cream..
      1. Battossi's Avatar
        Battossi -
        If you have cortisol that is elevated enough to effect your gains that is a medical issue. Consult a doctor not a guru.
      1. fightnews's Avatar
        fightnews -
        skip breakfeast, I'd rather skip all this useless conflicting information
      1. dieseljay74's Avatar
        dieseljay74 -
        How is it these articles cite all these research results to back up their claims yet every other article I read contradicts the next?
        I mean, is this an issue with bad research or just the way it's interpreted?

        If the research has been done and results apparently clear, wouldn't every fitness guru or author have the same opinion ?

        Makes no sense.....
      1. fueledpassion's Avatar
        fueledpassion -
        Originally Posted by dieseljay74 View Post
        How is it these articles cite all these research results to back up their claims yet every other article I read contradicts the next?
        I mean, is this an issue with bad research or just the way it's interpreted?

        If the research has been done and results apparently clear, wouldn't every fitness guru or author have the same opinion ?

        Makes no sense.....
        Usually jumping to a conclusion when there are significant holes in the study.

        Problem is, scientists and biologists are people too and they wanna get credit for finding something, so having a takeaway from every single study is important to them, even if results should be labeled "inconclusive".
      1. dieseljay74's Avatar
        dieseljay74 -
        Originally Posted by fueledpassion View Post

        Usually jumping to a conclusion when there are significant holes in the study.

        Problem is, scientists and biologists are people too and they wanna get credit for finding something, so having a takeaway from every single study is important to them, even if results should be labeled "inconclusive".
        Good point...
      1. JD261985's Avatar
        JD261985 -
        All this shyt doesn't need to be so confusing lol
      1. dieseljay74's Avatar
        dieseljay74 -
        Originally Posted by JD261985 View Post
        All this shyt doesn't need to be so confusing lol
        That about sums it up!
      1. wastedwhiteboy2's Avatar
        wastedwhiteboy2 -
        This used to be a good site for great information. Now it seem like there are articles that push bad ideas. I think I even seen one that said being a vegan was a good idea. Maybe i need to start looking at who the author is on these crazy articles.
      1. fueledpassion's Avatar
        fueledpassion -
        Well, this forum stopped pushing the envelope of knowledge in fitness. It now pursues what is mainstream, commonly known as "sound" practice rather than trying new things, questioning old ideas, bring back old ideas, modifying practices and recording results (aka experimenting).

        This site just doesnt have a curious mind anymore. Everyone has a one track mind and doesnt veer of the familiar path of approaches anymore.

        Every time I propose a fresh idea, it gets slammed with one or two vague, hardly appropriate studies, diets etc. People just arent able to think for themselves anymore and arent open to change or adjustment at all.
      1. wiseman's Avatar
        wiseman -
        Originally Posted by fueledpassion View Post

        But BCAA's really doesnt cause a crash in blood sugar like white breads can.

        Just sip on them alittle bit either before the end of the fast or load up on them throught the feeding period.
        Makes sense! Thanks bro

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