10 Reasons You MUST Manage Cortisol (Part 2 of 3)

By Vince Del Monte, WBFF Pro Fitness Model, Certified Fitness Trainer and Nutritionist and author of No Nonsense Muscle Building.

Welcome back again! For those of you who missed our first article on the most important hormone to manage when it comes to reaching your goals, check out Part 1 and get caught up!

I want to introduce you to my friend Dan Garner. Dan is a popular strength coach and nutrition expert out of London, Ontario. You can learn more about his training philosophies and receive a free gift (64+ Muscle Building and Training Tips) at www.QuickMuscleFormula.com.

Cortisol is the #1 hormone that should be addressed when it comes to reaching your potential, and this is regardless of where you want to be. I say this because cortisol effects your body composition, digestion, bone health, cardiovascular health, adrenal gland, thyroid gland, your mental capacity among many other things. These have huge influences on all aspects of your life because a change in your physiology can change the way you and your brain functions, and if you change the way you function you change the way you think.

Winning the race against cortisol can be corrected and controlled which will be the main focus of our next article in this series titled “Putting it into practice: Protocols and Strategies to Correct Cortisol”.

But first, in order to understand what you’re up against it’s important to learn the negative implications of turning a blind eye to cortisol levels.

So without further ado, reasons 6-10

#6. Shrinks your brain

Increased levels of cortisol in the body has a major impact on brain health and brain function. To be perfectly honest, this entire
article series could have been on the impact cortisol has on your brain just by itself. To give you a quick rundown, here’s some of the negative impacts it can have on your brain:

  • ThinkingIt decreases overall serotonin pools in the body. Serotonin is your “feel good” neurotransmitter that makes you feel good and is also necessary for a good night’s sleep
  • It decreases melatonin in the body. Melatonin as many people in the supplement world know is vital to getting a good sleep and having the ability to enter deep REM wave sleeping. If you consistently wake up in between 2-4am, it’s a real solid indicator your body isn’t making enough melatonin.
  • Increases food cravings, specifically for carbohydrates and salt.
  • It decreases overall dopamine pools in the body. Dopamine is an extremely important neurotransmitter for your feelings of motivation, focus and drive. Absolutely vital neurotransmitter for anybody trying to achieve their goals.
  • The hippocampus shrinks. Through a variety of biochemical processes cortisol works to shrink your hippocampus. Net result: short term memory loss, mood disorders, neurological disorders, sleep deprivation.

As you can see, cortisol’s impact on the brain is severe and this isn’t something that happens overnight, which is why it is important to stay on top of cortisol. Cortisol’s effects on the brain occur over prolonged exposure to stressors and these issues may slip in going unnoticed until you finally manage your cortisol and think “Wow! I have so much energy!”

#7. Plays a role in the #1 and #2 cause of death in America

It’s a scary thought to know that cortisol plays a role in both cancer and heart disease. Cancer and heart disease kill hundreds of thousands of people per year in the US alone. It’s a well-known fact that stress contributes to over 90% of all diseases and it is because of cortisol that this is a fact. Cortisol wreaks havoc on your cardiovascular system, brain, bones and immune system. It’s no wonder it’s not doing us any favors when we are sick. It actually puts the body in a state where it’s more likely to get sick and become sicker.

#8. Decreases insulin action

7774585Hormone “action” is different than just hormone availability. It takes a lot for a hormone to do what a hormone is supposed to do.

First, there has to be the raw materials available for that hormone to be manufactured.

Second, it has to be properly transported by the body to its destination.

Third, the receptor site to where its destination lies must have the nutrients to be activated.

Lastly, the destination cell must be healthy enough to co-operate with the hormones “action”.

To put this in perspective: Insulin first needs to be created and then transported to the muscle cell. At the muscle cell it must be met with a receptor site at the muscle cell in order to deliver nutrients into the muscle cell. Once the muscle cell receptor fires and accepts the insulin and its attached nutrients (which could be carbohydrates + BCAA’s) it proceeds to complete insulin’s “action”. Which is to:

  • Get circulating carbohydrates (blood sugar) out of the blood stream and into a cell to be stored as energy
  • Promote muscle growth
  • Regulate lean body mass
  • Regulate blood sugar and fat stores

Now this is fantastic right!? Insulin brought amino acids and carbohydrates to the muscle cell to promote muscle growth and energy! Only problem here is that cortisol disrupts insulin’s “action” by blocking the receptor site at which insulin was supposed to bind to. Resulting in:

  • Decrease muscle growth
  • Decrease energy being stored in a muscle cell
  • Increased energy being stored in the fat cells
  • Increased circulating, damaging blood sugars
  • Increased belly fat due to higher amounts of circulating insulin and cortisol
  • Increased inflammation

This is bad news for anybody looking to put on some muscle mass. If you have to high of cortisol levels, it’s not going to matter how hard you’re training if you’re nutrients aren’t being absorbed properly. Remember, it’s not what you eat, it’s what you absorb.

#9. Increases inflammation

New and up and coming BioSignature practitioners are being taught to manage inflammation first before anything else. For veryiStock_000013835626XSmall good reasons mind you as it goes hand in hand with all health and body composition related goals. Prolonged elevated cortisol levels leads to an increase in inflammatory cytokines in the body such as:

IL-6: IL-6 induces fatigue during exercise. The higher your IL-6, the quicker you are going to fatigue and the more inflamed your body’s going to be.

TNF-alpha: Increases your body’s susceptibility to have more allergies, drives down insulin action activity. Result: Less muscle growth, more body fat and more food allergies.

C-Reactive Proteins: Predictor for type 2 diabetes, increases inflammatory abdominal fat, promotes decreased insulin action. Result: Less management of blood sugar, increase body fat levels and decreased muscle mass.

Inflammation causes a very bad cycle of events that will continue to make your body produce less anabolic (muscle building) hormones and more catabolic (muscle breakdown) hormones while promoting allergies, further increased cortisol levels, disease and a terrible physique.

#10. Causes adrenal fatigue

Last but not least, prolonged elevated cortisol levels lead to overall adrenal fatigue. Your adrenal glands are responsible for producing adrenaline, other energy producing chemicals and works very tightly with your pancreas and thyroid. If there’s one system outside of your brain that can truly have a devastating impact on your physiology, it’s your adrenal glands.

Decrease adrenal output results in chronic fatigue, poor sleep and a severely decreased metabolism. Those who are adrenally fatigued can normally be seen drinking coffee all day, “needing” a boost or else they are useless or get headaches and often have a major crash between 2-4pm.

Dark emotionsYou see, cortisol is manufactured and secreted by your adrenal glands, and cortisol gives you lots of energy. Which is confusing because in the initial stages of adrenal fatigue you will actually find yourself with a ton of energy. An example of this would include having a major business proposal, or presentation, or sporting event in 30 days. You can bet during those 30 days you are going to be on the ball, on fire trying to do everything you can to be prepared on that day.

Not knowing, that you’re slowly depleting all of your pregnenolone. As you learned in reasons 1-5, pregnenolone is vital to the production of testosterone, but it’s also vital for the production of cortisol. So if you’re stressed out for prolonged periods of time you are going to be using all of your pregnenolone to make cortisol and not testosterone. Then, when you run out of pregnenolone you can’t produce testosterone or cortisol. This is when complete adrenal fatigue kicks in. These are the people that wake up exhausted, caffeinate themselves to get through the day, go to sleep exhausted, and never feel totally rested and refreshed.

Major problems here are that your adrenal glands relationship with your thyroid and pancreas function so closely that you disrupt all three organs. They are like a tripod, if you knock one of the legs over the whole thing is coming down. That spells bad news for your entire physiology because those 3 organs are so extremely important to health and building a kick ass physique that I won’t even be able to scratch the surface on their importance in this article alone.

When you’re adrenally fatigued, you really de-sensitize your receptors for caffeine and stimulants. Remember the first time you ever had a coffee, or the first time you ever tried a pre-workout? It’s totally not the same now right? This is because adrenal fatigue has down regulated your sensitivity to caffeine. Which is no good when you’re trying to get a serious boost before training.

I hope in this first part of the series I have shed some light on the devastating effects cortisol can have on your body. Fortunately, your cortisol regulation can be remodelled through different strategies and protocols that you can incorporate into your current routine with no problem. Doing so will drastically improve your brain function, ability to build muscle mass, ability to burn fat and quality of life. My next article will show you exactly how to control your cortisol and allow you to maximize your muscle building efforts. Be on the lookout for that article shortly!

Vince Del Monte & Dan Garner

Gain access to Part 3 of this article by clicking here.

To find out more about Dan Garner, strength coach and nutrition expert click the link below and receive a free gift (64+ Muscle Building and Training Tips) at www.QuickMuscleFormula.com.

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