Do you find yourself constantly tired, stressed and not enjoying things you previously did? Are you experiencing unexplainable weight gain even while adhering to a solid diet and workout regimen?
What you’re experiencing, most likely, is high cortisol levels. Not familiar with this hormone or why having high cortisol levels is a bad thing, especially in terms of fat loss and muscle gain? Don’t worry, we’ve got all the information on this important hormone ahead as we look in-depth at all there is to know about cortisol.
Cortisol is your primary “stress” hormone. It’s released when you’re faced with any sort of threat, attack or perceived harmful event. Following this acute stressor, the hypothalamus activates the sympathetic nervous system and the adrenal-cortical system which ignites the “fight or flight response.”
At times, cortisol is a very necessary and useful, i.e. when getting chased by a cheetah in the wild. However, when cortisol levels get out of hand and are elevated for prolonged periods of time, that’s when things start to go awry.
Over the last 15-20 years, science has revealed some rather alarming side effects as a result of chronically high cortisol levels, including:
Cortisol interferes with normal production of other hormones, which disrupts sleeping patterns and leads to physical and mental fatigue. <1,2>
Elevated cortisol levels contribute to “brain fog” or mental cloudiness. It can also interfere with memory formation and recall too. <3>
Cortisol hinders immune system function, making your more susceptible to illness, disease and infections. <4>
Not only does stress increase your chances of getting sick, it also accelerates the aging process at the cellular level. The telomere is the outermost part of the chromosome. As you age, the telomeres gradually shorten over the years. Telomere length has also been associated with age-related diseases and longevity.
New research shows that individuals experiencing high levels of depression or chronically elevated cortisol levels exhibit shorter telomere lengths than control groups, leading researchers to the conclusion that stress plays a contributing factor to accelerating the aging process. <5>
Being stressed all the time is also a contributing factor in the development of several severe chronic health complications including Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and cardiovascular disease. <6>
Last, but not least, worrying all the time and being stressed increases appetite, encourages unhealthy eating habits, and perhaps worst of all, signals your body to shift your metabolism from burning fat to storing it <7,8>, thereby making that “stubborn” fat all the harder to lose
As you can see, being stressed and having high cortisol levels is no laughing matter. Now, let’s look at few ways to keep cortisol levels in check and promote better fat burning and health.
Exercise is a great way to relieve stress and for many people a daily means to getting away from pressure. In the short term, exercise does temporarily increase cortisol levels, but it’s an essential part of the muscle-building process and will return back to normal in the ensuing hours following your workout.
The key to managing exercise and cortisol is in the amount of exercise you do. If you’re overtraining and under recovering (i.e. training 3x per day and not sleeping), your cortisol levels will become chronically elevated since you never give your body the down time it needs to restore homeostasis. Following a properly designed exercise routine ensures you’re getting all the benefits of exercise (and cortisol), with none of the drawbacks.
Sometimes the best way to deal with stress is to just chill out and relax. What do we mean by relax? We’re talking about using various relaxation exercises as a means to lessen cortisol levels and gain a little bit of self-control so that you’re not as easily stressed out when things go sideways in life.
Relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, massage therapy, yoga, listening to calming music, drinking tea, and even reading have been shown to dramatically reduce cortisol levels.<9,10,11>
Not a fan of yoga, that’s ok, there are countless relaxation techniques out there, try one until you find one that suits your fancy and practice it regularly.
The final “easy” fix to help get cortisol under control is by using supplements proven to help lower the cortisol response. Specifically, we’re talking about adaptogens. These potent herbs are old-world remedy that have modern science backing proving their efficacy at improving the body’s response to various stressors and significantly lowering cortisol levels.
Adaptogens including ashwagandha, rhodiola, maca, and eleuthero are some of the most effective and popular options for those seeking to reduce stress but don’t want to turn to prescription pharmaceuticals. Adding these botanicals to your daily supplement regimen can do wonders for your health and stress-response. Both Steel Core™ and Steel Hard™ are formulated with clinically proven KSM-66® Ashwagandha.
Cortisol is an essential hormone, but left unchecked can spell bad news for even the healthiest individuals out there. Fortunately, there are methods for dealing with stress safely and naturally. All it takes is some time and effort on your part to work around your stressors and find a more peaceful way to deal with them.
As a former collegiate athlete, I’ve has always had a passion for all things health and wellness. SteelFit® is a culmination of all my years of education, training, and passion combined. I create, formulate, and educate daily. I am always thinking of how to give our customers the latest and greatest products to help them achieve their goals. Some of my best ideas come when I’m at the gym. When I’m not doing all those, I love spending time with my wife Jessica, my son Logan, our three puppies, and playing daily fantasy sports. I love to travel and am always up for a good cheat meal.
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