Why You Should Control Your Cortisol Naturally
If you are exercising to lose weight, then you must be sure you are doing the right exercise for the right time duration. This is because you want to avoid excess release of this stress hormone.
The fact that an elevated cortisol levels in the body can make it hard for you to lose weight is already a common knowledge. If permitted, your cortisol wants to break down the muscle in your body and increase the fat, which I believe are the very things you are looking to avoid.
Does cortisol have any good side to it?
Yes. The cortisol is primarily an anti-stress hormone. Without the cortisol, if you are exposed to trauma, you could go into shock and die. That’s not all.
The Cortisol also plays a key role after exercise. It helps to supply fat to power the reaction of the muscle-protein-synthesis. So definitely, cortisol is not all bad.
Intensive exercise of any type is capable of raising your cortisol levels. However, athletes with the highest levels of this stress hormone are usually the ones who overtrain. Overtraining is a form of stress.
At least, that’s how the body views it which explains why the body respond to it by activating the release of coritsol, just like it would to any type of stress.
Although runners of ultra-long-distance probably have very high levels of cortisol in their bodies, don’t forget that the athletes knows how to modify cortisol release through their athletic experience.
This explains why people that are new to sports and exercise tend to secrete higher levels of cortisol more than athletes that are experienced.
Adam Steer mentions some of the signs of excess production of cortisol in the body in his guide Bodyweight Burn System, which include water retention, excess fat in the trunk of the body, bloat and failure to increase strength and muscle size. This is because cortisol encourages the release of myostatin, which is a protein that breaks down muscle.
A lot of serious athletes in different aspects of sports create time to train two times in a day. Let’s look at swimmers; they train for hours, both in the morning and afternoon. So, how do they manage to keep their cortisol levels under control?
One of the easy ways by which you can manage cortisol is to get enough sleep and sufficient rest between the sessions of your exercises.
Another thing that helps with recovery is consuming a higher amount of protein, especially branched-chain amino acids.
Some people release and produce more cortisol than others. It is especially released in high amount in people suffering from Cushing’s disease. The catabolic effects of high amount of cortisol are a greater disadvantage for people who are seeking athletic success.
Cortisol and exercising
Although the cortisol effect of cardio exercise has been exaggerated but it is true that cortisol levels begin to rise after more than one hour of aerobics. Very intense exercise like weight training can also release a high amount of cortisol but experienced trainers show small or little change in their cortisol levels, since they have adapted.
Getting a personal trainer or getting started by an experienced fitness coach at any of the best gyms around you is a good way to get started.
What supplements can help you control cortisol?
Some studies have suggested Phosphatidylserine for the support of healthy levels of cortisol, with the recommendation of daily intake of 400 milligrams.
Another supplement for this purpose is a plant extract known as Relora. Another trick that blunts the release of cortisol is ingesting carbs during or post-workout.
Is cortisol higher in unfit people?
The enzyme that converts an inactive form of cortisol into the active form is found in fat cells. So the body of obese people tend to produce and release more cortisol. This is because the enzymes that are responsible for converting the active form of cortisol into the inactive are present in the fat cells of the body. However, it is still not clear to scientists if this perpetuates the obesity.
There are some experimental drugs that help to prevents the enzyme that converts inactive forms of cortisol into the active one. The drugs have proven to be beneficial. The beneficial effects of the drugs against obesity were discovered in preliminary animal studies.
Also, the ones that are healthy are able to properly handle stress more effectively than others who are not fit. The conclusion here is that fit and healthy people produce and release less amount of cortisol under stressful conditions.
Here are things you can do to control your cortisol levels naturally
- Switch to anti-inflammatory whole foods diet
- Manage and reduce stress
- Practice mindfulness and meditation
- Acupuncture treatment
- Deep breathing exercises
- Regular exercise
- Spending time with nature outdoors
- Superfoods and the use of adaptogen herbs such as ashwaganda, astragalus, ginseng and licorice root among others.
- Promote relaxation with essential oils
- Get enough sleep