Every time we exercise we stress our body and, more importantly, our muscles. Without this stress factor, there would be no reason for the muscles to grow. However, too much stress, whether it be in terms of training, life, or mind, is a very bad thing...
Every time we exercise we stress our body and, more importantly, our muscles. Without this stress factor, there would be no reason for the muscles to grow. However, too much stress, whether it be in terms of training, life, or mind, is a very bad thing. Elevated stress levels lead to an increase in the production of cortisol.
Naturally created by our bodies due to increased stress levels, cortisol can cause it to operate less than optimal, which is bad news for anyone intent on serious training. Keeping these levels in check is the goal of cortisol control supplements which allows the body to handle stress and provide it with the energy needed to maximize performance and athleticism.
What is Cortisol?
Cortisol is more commonly known as the “stress hormone.” It is naturally produced by our bodies through the day and is released in higher amounts during periods of increased stress.. The adrenal gland are where cortisol is produced and then released into the body. Cortisol levels tend to be greater in the morning, and decline as the day wears on, unless there is a situation that occurs resulting in the body releasing more to deal with stress.
The primary functions are anti-stress and anti-inflammatory. Basically, cortisol helps us deal with stress by shutting off non-essential unnecessary functions (immune and reproductive systems) during times of “crisis. This allows the body to focus all its energy towards dealing with the crisis or stressful situation at hand.
Benefits of Cortisol
As stated above, cortisol is a hormone naturally produced by our bodies. As such, a certain amount of it is required to ensure proper functioning and health. Cortisol does have some benefits including:
Aids liver in removing toxins
Increases short term memory
Regulate blood sugar levels
Drawback of Cortisol
While there are advantages to having small spikes of cortisol in the body, chronically elevated levels of the stress hormone can have several undesirable consequences including:
Elevated blood pressure
Decreased muscle protein synthesis
Decreased bone density
Failure to increase muscle size and strength
Note: Cortisol has an inverse relationship with all anabolic hormones in the body. In case you forgot your physiology, those hormones include testosterone, growth hormone (GH), and insulin.. When cortisol is elevated, these other anabolic hormones are subdues, and vice versa. Meaning the longer your cortisol levels remain spiked, the harder it will be for you to see any gains from your intense weight training in the gym.
It’s pretty obvious now that keeping cortisol in check should be a priority for anyone looking to maximize the time they spend in the gym so all of our hard work isn’t wasted. Now, it would be easy to say, “just chill out” and meditate to find your “happy place,” but in this constant state of being on the go as we are, it’s just not possible. Fortunately, there are a variety of ingredients that have been shown to alleviate stress symptoms.
When looking for a cortisol control supplement, look for any of the following ingredients:
Vitamin C - a potent antioxidant and has been shown to reduce cortisol levels when taken post workout
Magnolia officinalis Extract bark - long used in Chinese medicine for it anti-anxiety and neuroprotective benefits, also possess some fat-burning potential as well
Rhodiola Rosea - a plant adaptogen that interacts with the adrenal glands to reduce cortisol production while also enhancing stress-resistance proteins that limit the release of cortisol
Ashwagandha - yet another herb that is used in Ayurveda medicine and has a long history of preventing stress and anxiety
These are just a few of the many ingredients you could come across in the various cortisol control supplements, but they are some of the most proven and effective. Takeaway
No matter how much weight you can lift or how fit you may feel, elevated cortisol levels brought on by chronic stress the wreak havoc on your physical and mental well-being. In addition to limiting your progress in the gym, it can lead to an increased risk heart disease and hypertension. Ensuring you get enough sleep, recovery and food can go a long way to winning the battle against cortisol, while investing in a top notch control supplement can make sure you have all of your bases covered.