Are you training for long periods at a time and not shifting body fat?

Too much cardiovascular exercise will cause Cortisol levels to increase and as we know Cortisol will eat away at your muscle fibres and reverse the effects of your training. So remember sometimes less is more and limiting cardio sessions to 4-5 per week will be more effective than running for hours on hours every day. Incorporate simple weight training programs if you want change your body shape for good!

WHAT IS CORTISOL?

Cortisol if often referred to as the ‘Stress Hormone’ as although it is produced naturally throughout the day it is released in greater amounts as a response to stress. The adrenal gland is where Cortisol is produced and released by the body in varied levels throughout the day. Cortisol levels are generally higher in the mornings and lower at night time as the amount of Cortisol released drops throughout the day unless of course the body releases more Cortisol as a reaction to Stress.

The hormone cortisol has the following effects:

  • Reduces protein synthesis.
  • Facilitates the conversion of protein to glucose.
  • Stops tissue growth.

When you exercise, your body releases hormones. We generally think of hormones like testosterone, growth hormone and insulin. These three hormones are anabolic because they help build tissue.

But there is another hormone that the body releases during exercise. It’s called cortisol. Unlike the previously mentioned anabolic hormones, cortisol is catabolic – meaning it breaks tissue down.

Let’s just remember the difference between losing weight and losing fat. The truth is you’re not going to look much better unless its fat you’re burning…. And quite often it’s not! If it were true that cardio just burns fat then you could just get on your bike and cycle all day every day and get ripped. But we all know it’s not that easy, over training causes the body to use muscle for fuel and to try and hold on to body fat instead of burning it.

When you exercise, your body releases hormones. We generally think of hormones like testosterone, growth hormone and insulin. These three hormones are anabolic because they help build tissue.

But there is another hormone that the body releases during exercise. It’s called cortisol. Unlike the previously mentioned anabolic hormones, cortisol is catabolic – meaning it breaks tissue down.

Let’s just remember the difference between losing weight and losing fat. The truth is you’re not going to look much better unless its fat you’re burning…. And quite often it’s not! If it were true that cardio just burns fat then you could just get on your bike and cycle all day every day and get ripped. But we all know it’s not that easy, overtraining causes the body to use muscle for fuel and to try and hold on to body fat instead of burning it.

How to Control Your Cortisol Levels

1. Keep your Workout sessions less than 1 hour

While we might think more is more when it comes to hitting the gym, keeping workouts short is one of the best ways to control cortisol. Cortisol is released by the body in response to stress, and strength training sessions shorter than 45 – 60 minutes have been demonstrated to minimize this. Similarly, cortisol is best controlled by cardio sessions shorter than 30 – 45 minutes. Going to the gym should be part of your day – not the whole day. With my easy to follow 6 Week Training Program you can now be more effective and get great results! 

The biggest takeaway is the importance of quality vs. quantity when it comes to your gym time. Spending more time (longer session) at the gym may actually have the opposite effect that you intend, so keep your workouts shorter, efficient and effective.

2. Limit Your Cardio

Too much cardio causes more Cortisol to be released by the body so don’t over-do it on the CV equipment and remember any cardio should be combined with a good diet.

3. Nutrition

  • Eat carbs when it counts. When it comes to nutrition, it’s important to recognize the inverse relationship between glycogen and cortisol. As glycogen levels go down, cortisol goes up. When your body runs out of glycogen – which it uses for energy – the increase in cortisol triggers a breakdown of protein (stored as muscle) to be converted to fuel. It’s not a good thing for people trying to build muscle, but it can be avoided by eating first thing in the morning and consuming carbs immediately after a workout. When taking your post-workout protein shake, ensure that you are also getting some simple carbohydrates that can be absorbed quickly.
  • A good post workout shake should include around 30-40g of protein (view protein powders) and 50-70g of simple carbs (dextrose) that will provide an insulin spike – this helps to clear Cortisol levels and keep up those muscle gains!

4. Relax

Well this is a simple one in theory, as I’ve mentioned Cortisol levels are proven to rise dramatically due to the body reacting to stress. Try to chill out and not to let things stress you out!.... take a nice walk… have a bath… read a book, whatever helps you to relax and relieve the stress.

5. Sleep

8 Hours sleep is ideal but try to get at least 7! Remember muscle doesn’t grow whilst you’re in the gym – it grows when you’re resting. Cortisol levels are lowest (and growth hormone levels are highest) in the deepest phase of sleep. Get your required 7 – 8 hours, and do your best to ensure that it’s uninterrupted (i.e., put your phone on silent).

6. Limit Caffeine Intake

Cortisol levels can be elevated due to the stimulating effect of caffeine and it has been shown that as little as 2-3 cups per day can cause Cortisol levels to rise.

Get your 6 Week Training Program now to get results through simple effective methods and tested workout options.