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Shawn Bellon
08-02-2009, 05:09 PM
BY CHRIS ACETO

Learning to control this muscle-eroding hormone will increase your muscle mass

Do you feel sore, tired, irritable or weak? Have you noticed that your gains have plateaued? These could be signs that your cortisol levels are out of whack.
Cortisol is a stress hormone that’s truly the antithesis of testosterone: whereas testosterone supports muscle building, excess cortisol kills it. Besides tearing down muscle tissue and preventing the body from storing carbs as muscle glycogen, cortisol actually lowers testosterone. It also interferes with testosterone’s ability to bind to its receptors within muscle cells and induce an anabolic effect. When testosterone levels drop, not only does it become harder to build muscle and recover, but oestrogen tends to have a stronger effect in the body. Oestrogen is correlated with water retention, and it also makes shedding bodyfat a lot more difficult.

Cortisol levels can be elevated for a variety of reasons — hardcore training itself can induce this rise. It’s important that bodybuilders learn how to control their cortisol levels to keep making the best gains. If you suffer from the symptoms mentioned earlier, institute the following suggestions to help get your cortisol levels under control.

1. Stay on top of your workout nutrition As mentioned, cortisol rises when you train — it’s a natural reaction. One of the best ways to avoid excessively elevated cortisol levels is to be disciplined with your postworkout nutrition. By supplying your body with exactly what it needs as soon as the work-out is done, you’ll jump-start your recovery and help blunt cortisol spikes.
After your workout, take in 30-50 grams (g) of whey protein with 60 to 100 g of carbs. Maltodextrin is easy, but you can take in other fast-digesting carbs such as rice cakes, white bread or cold cereal. You can also add 5 g of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) to the mix, or take them before you work out — BCAAs before exercise help maintain testosterone levels and can be used to fuel muscles. Leucine, one of the BCAAs, also spikes insulin levels through a different mechanism than carbs, and insulin helps in the suppression of cortisol. Whey provides building blocks that help prevent catabolism — muscle breakdown — and preventing catabolism is directly related to lower cortisol levels. Finally, the carbs in this combo spike insulin to further offset protein breakdown.

2. Control your workouts Training volume can have a direct impact on cortisol levels. If you’re overtraining, you’re taking your body past the point where you can make the best gains. Follow these rules to make the most of your muscle-building regime.
• Limit weight training to four sessions per week. Training more frequently prevents the body from attaining a full recovery.
• Keep sessions to about an hour. When you perform too many sets and exercises in a given session, you can break down your muscle tissue too much. Limiting the length of your training sessions helps avoid this.
• Emphasise multijoint movements. Exercises such as squats, deadlifts and bench presses are the most effective at stimulating muscle growth while helping to limit total training volume. They also best stimulate growth hormone (GH) and testosterone, which can help blunt cortisol.
• Avoid excessive pumping and finishing movements. When you perform numerous sets and reps of these types of exercises, you can raise your cortisol levels too high without stimulating as much muscle growth. Try to keep pumping and finishing movements to no more than three sets per bodypart at the end of the workout.

3. Be careful with your cardio If cardio exercise burned only bodyfat, then you could hop on a bike and cycle your way into the record books as the most ripped human ever. The problem is, though, that prolonged and excessive cardio causes an increase in cortisol, and this situation can begin to prioritise muscle tissue as an energy source, tearing it down instead of helping to build it.
How much is too much cardio? I’d say anything more than five sessions a week — and try to keep it to no more than four times per week when you’re not being strict with your diet. Thirty minutes per session is also enough, except when you’re trying to get really ripped.

4. Eat six meals a day The benefits of eating multiple meals per day are numerous. Besides allowing you to stay lean, a diet strategy of smaller and more frequent meals has been shown to keep cortisol levels lower than less-frequent feedings. Multiple meals — at any calorie level — will result in greater cortisol control than less-frequent meals, and we know keeping cortisol in check yields less fat, more muscle, better recovery and more energy. Strive to take in six meals per day throughout all phases of your training programme.

5. Take vitamin C This water-soluble vitamin cushions the negative effects of free radicals, compounds that are released with hardcore training. Free radicals target tissues such as muscles, weakening them and increasing inflammation and breakdown. When this happens, cortisol levels spike. By providing your body with antioxidants, such as vitamin C, you can help control cortisol. One study showed that a daily dose of 1,000 milligrams (mg) helped weightlifters keep cortisol under control. A good bet is to take 1,000 mg with your post-training meal, when free radicals are most likely to be present. Don’t go to the extreme and take a megadose, though, because new research shows that excessive vitamin C could actually be detrimental.

6. Supplement with vitamin E This fat-soluble vitamin offers many versatile benefits. Primarily, vitamin E helps combat the oxi-dative stress of training and dieting. Like vitamin C, vitamin E is also helpful at combating free radicals. Large amounts of vitamin E have been shown to decrease creatine kinase activity, a marker for muscle-fibre injury. That’s what happens when you train. It’s the irony of trying to get big: you tear down your muscles to rebuild them and make them grow bigger. Taking 800 international units of vitamin E daily may help to prevent severe breakdown, which, in theory, should allow you to recover more quickly from your training.

7. Try phosphatidylserine Phosphatidylserine (PS) is a phospholipid, a quasi fat that is derived from soya beans. PS has been shown to help control cortisol levels. When you take 800 mg immediately after training, it saves muscles by blunting the total amount of cortisol released by your body. In theory, you can train like a madman and rapidly recover if you follow up the hard training with this anticortisol supplement. Another benefit is that when you keep cortisol levels under control, it’s easier for your muscles to “carb up”. With escalating cortisol levels, muscles experience a downgrade in their ability to take up carbs and deposit them as stored muscle glycogen.

8. Eat (or supplement with) garlic This bulbous flavourful herb common to Asian, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cooking has a long-deserved reputation as a health food. Recent research has shown that garlic along with a high-casein diet altered the body’s hormonal status, yielding lower levels of stress hormones such as cortisol. Other studies have shown that garlic may help increase testosterone levels. In general, the higher your testosterone levels, the lower your cortisol levels. So supplement with garlic powder — 450 mg twice daily with meals — or with a garlic supplement that provides about 4 mg of allicin with casein protein shakes. This may help keep cortisol to a minimum.

9. Get your glutamine You knew it had to show up here, right? Recent studies have pooh-poohed glutamine’s beneficial effects on cortisol levels, but I disagree. There are many other studies that take a pro-glutamine view in muscle building. Glutamine works to spare BCAAs, and keeping BCAAs high helps keep cortisol levels from rising. In addition, glutamine pushes water into muscles, and hydrated muscles remain anabolic. Several studies show that supplemental glutamine can help keep cortisol levels in check.
Glutamine can help suppress the amount of cortisol circulating in blood. Glutamine also increases GH levels, combating cortisol’s catabolic effects. For a beneficial effect on cortisol levels, athletes may need a lot more glutamine than amounts that are often suggested. I recommend taking 5 to 10 g before and another 5 to 10 g after training to help reduce cortisol levels.

10. Add arginine to your supplement regime Arginine is now touted as a nitric oxide inducer; yet, it remains an effective GH releaser. Arginine may also have effects on cortisol levels. When GH levels rise, which naturally occurs with sleep, cortisol levels fall. As you get older, the sleep-induced GH boost just isn’t what it used to be, which allows cortisol levels to rise. Rising cortisol makes it harder for your body to grow, to hold mass and to get lean. Take 9 to 12 g of arginine before bed without carbs to increase GH levels and to blunt cortisol.

anabolic fyre
08-02-2009, 06:23 PM
a good readd

figurebre
08-31-2009, 02:17 AM
very interesting

ob205
08-31-2009, 03:00 PM
Good post, I would like to add WORKOUT DURATION to that list, it has been proven that test levels lower and cortisol rises after 60 minutes of training. I am not stating in stone that a workout has to only last 40-60 minutes, but these people training for 2 hours at a time are counterproductive!

natron
09-01-2009, 03:48 PM
by chris aceto



9. Get your glutamine you knew it had to show up here, right? Recent studies have pooh-poohed glutamine’s beneficial effects on cortisol levels, but i disagree. There are many other studies that take a pro-glutamine view in muscle building. Glutamine works to spare bcaas, and keeping bcaas high helps keep cortisol levels from rising. In addition, glutamine pushes water into muscles, and hydrated muscles remain anabolic. Several studies show that supplemental glutamine can help keep cortisol levels in check.
Glutamine can help suppress the amount of cortisol circulating in blood. Glutamine also increases gh levels, combating cortisol’s catabolic effects. For a beneficial effect on cortisol levels, athletes may need a lot more glutamine than amounts that are often suggested. I recommend taking 5 to 10 g before and another 5 to 10 g after training to help reduce cortisol levels


bullshit!!!

Nitro Fueled Barbie/Mel Marx
09-01-2009, 04:18 PM
Good post, I would like to add WORKOUT DURATION to that list, it has been proven that test levels lower and cortisol rises after 60 minutes of training. I am not stating in stone that a workout has to only last 40-60 minutes, but these people training for 2 hours at a time are counterproductive!

What if the person did 60 min training in the morning, then 60 min cardio in the evening? is it still counter productive? or are you allowing enough rest in between to have the effects that you say it has?

natron
09-01-2009, 07:05 PM
What if the person did 60 min training in the morning, then 60 min cardio in the evening? is it still counter productive? or are you allowing enough rest in between to have the effects that you say it has?

you shouldn't have any worries with that schedule.

I really don't believe most people need to control cortisol unless you are in a very demanding situation long term, or you run ephedrine or similar stims for very long periods.

ob205
09-02-2009, 11:01 AM
Splitting the sessions in 2, 1 for cardio and 1 for weight training is ideal. The time training i was referring to, was the resistance exercise time, although I still dont believe total gym time should exceed 1.5 hours at a time.

Nitro Fueled Barbie/Mel Marx
09-02-2009, 02:17 PM
you shouldn't have any worries with that schedule.

I really don't believe most people need to control cortisol unless you are in a very demanding situation long term, or you run ephedrine or similar stims for very long periods.

I run black coffee with liquid stevia and cinnamon for long periods. I need it to get through my busy days.

natron
09-02-2009, 03:13 PM
nothing to worry about there Melissa

lilfella
09-02-2009, 04:35 PM
I run black coffee with liquid stevia and cinnamon for long periods. I need it to get through my busy days.
Im gonna try that sounds good

lilfella
09-02-2009, 04:54 PM
Doesn't excess caffeine cause an increase in cortisol?

natron
09-02-2009, 06:41 PM
Doesn't excess caffeine cause an increase in cortisol?

excessive is hardly a few cups of coffee/day, maybe a few pots...

Nitro Fueled Barbie/Mel Marx
09-02-2009, 11:41 PM
Im gonna try that sounds good

If you can, get your hands on the nu naturals vanilla flavored liquid stevia. Trust me, all the difference. But regular is good too. I sprinkle a ton of cinnamon on top. In fact, I'm gonna make some now. LOL

tight booty
09-03-2009, 09:35 AM
Great article! Thanks for posting.

GREENMACHINE23
09-05-2009, 04:57 PM
Excellent info.

muscleport
02-08-2012, 05:17 PM
Good read, not many articles could be found regarding regulating cortisols

Spacey
02-08-2012, 06:31 PM
This may sound hokey, but why not add meditation and/or yoga to the list? Cortisol levels also rise in response to stress and anger, so any technique that helps you relax should lower cortisol levels, too.


Good post, I would like to add WORKOUT DURATION to that list, it has been proven that test levels lower and cortisol rises after 60 minutes of training. I am not stating in stone that a workout has to only last 40-60 minutes, but these people training for 2 hours at a time are counterproductive!
This always confuses me. Doesn't it matter how long your rests are between sets? In other words, if you workout for 90 minutes but take 3-5 minute rests (not recommending this, just for example) between sets, the amount of time under stress might actually be lower than a 60 minute workout with only 30-60 second rests. So which is more important—overall time of the workout from start to finish, or actual time the body is lifting weights/exerting energy?

showstopper88
02-10-2012, 01:07 PM
This is a great read. I initially had been taking 7,00mg of c a day, but I'll definitely cut back. The only thing I need to add is vit e

BlueBaron
04-02-2012, 10:46 PM
Pretty interesting and helpful

PhiJ
04-10-2012, 04:24 PM
Good post, I would like to add WORKOUT DURATION to that list, it has been proven that test levels lower and cortisol rises after 60 minutes of training. I am not stating in stone that a workout has to only last 40-60 minutes, but these people training for 2 hours at a time are counterproductive!

Do you know where to find the study that showed that? I've heard a few people say that hormone levels change after 60 mins, but the one time I looked for studies on cortisol I found none on total workout duration. If you could point me at the study it would be appreciated.