Many of us may be unfamiliar with the subject of cortisol. For those who are unaware, cortisol is a hormone that is secreted by the adrenal gland in response to the reaction of stress. Unfortunately, an overproduction of this hormone can lead to diabetes associated with weight gain, high blood pressure and even a state of depression. Here are some facts you should know about cortisol, and what you can do to restrict an overproduction of this hormone.
1. Cortisol may decrease your muscle mass
Our body’s internal complexity can be comprehended if broken down similar to how food in our digestive system is processed. For instance, lets decompose the components of two hormones our body produces: cortisol and testosterone. When cortisol levels increase testosterone levels tend to decrease, therefore decreasing your muscle tone.
According to Dr. Shawn Talbott, author of the Cortisol Connection, there is “a fat storing enzyme known as hydroxysteroid (11-beta) dehydrogenase that causes inactive cortisol to be reactivated within individual fat cells.” Basically the old cortisol becomes recycled and harder to decrease as the initial fat storing process begins in the stomach, thus creating bloating and dreadful tummy fat.
Being a gym rat, I learned that no matter how hard you workout, your exercise can be contradicted if you workout for a real long period of time. Keeping your workout between 45 minutes to an hour is ideal in preventing excessive cortisol. When your body is undergoing such extreme endurance, the cortisol levels become extremely high and your testosterone levels drop significantly thus leading to a decrease in muscle tone. You must know how to balance your cortisol and testosterone levels in order to see effective results from your workouts. Supplements such as Branch Chained Amino Acids and Magnolia Bark have been proven to reduce cortisol levels. I personally take 2-3 grams of BCAA’s after a workout to compensate for the decreased testosterone and limit the rise of cortisol.
2. Our body has a cortisol based time schedule
In the Cortisol Connection, there is a chart that depicts the peak times of production and reduction of cortisol. High Cortisol levels were documented between early morning hours while the lowest were documented in the night time usually when our body is in the process of a nocturnal slumber. People who work “graveyard hours” were documented to have the exact opposite cortisol clock schedule.
3. Cortisol is a necessity
Although this hormone may have some detrimental effects to our health and our appearance, it is deemed as a necessity. There is a common misconception of understanding cortisol, because cortisol itself doesn’t necessary cause all of these unwanted reactions, but the abundance of it does. Cortisol is actually produced to regulate blood pressure during extremely stressful situations.
4. Drinking plenty of water can prevent overproduction of cortisol.
According to researchers from the University of Conn. Human Performance Laboratory, when your body enters a dehydrated state, cortisol levels increase. I have noticed this as well. There was a time where my body wasn’t receiving proper water consumption and my dehydration caused my stomach to appear bloated. Remember whether you are working out or not, it is always vital to drink a substantial amount of water!
In conclusion, as long as we understand the function and cause of cortisol, we can be more conscious of our weight gain and devise appropriate strategies to combat other unhealthy effects. Remember to keep your workout to a strict time frame of an hour to an hour and a half the most, and drink plenty of water, and most importantly limit factors that may be the cause of unwelcome stress in your life.