Ciao! Would-ah you-ah like-ah to try-ah my-ah pasta?
No, Cortisol isn’t a hot girl from Italy. Cortisol is a very important hormone that plays an integral part in our daily lives.
Cortisol is very two faced. On one hand it can make you faster, more alert, quicken reflexes, and make you stronger, regulate blood sugar levels, act as an anti-inflammatory, and increase metabolism; just when you think cortisol is our friend it turns around and bitch slaps you with high blood pressure, muscle weakness, depression and anxiety, and turns you into a fat ass.
Cortisol, how could you do this to me I thought you were friends?
Just like about everything else, cortisol is best when used in moderation. Too much cortisol will wreck your health and your life, but if you have too much cortisol in you that probably means your life is already a wreck.
Don’t freak out though. There are ways to control your cortisol levels and to use the cortisol you do have to your advantage.
Do you remember that thing called stress we were talking about in the previous post? Well, stress is to cortisol what a punch in the face is to a black eye; they have a, uh let’s say, a relationship. Actually a punch in the face can cause your cortisol levels to increase, but I digress.
How are stress and cortisol related? Well let’s take a closer look at cortisol. What is it in the first place? First of all cortisol is a steroid produced by the adrenal glands. You may be thinking that if cortisol is a steroid it must be good more muscle growth, right? The answer is yes, and no. Cortisol is actually a catabolic steroid. For its purposes that is not necessarily a bad thing. Cortisol’s function is not intended to build muscle but rather, to give us the motivation and drive to punish ourselves hard enough to help build muscle.
How does Cortisol motivate us to work out? Well first of all let me state that before cortisol starts working you must first work up the motivation all on your own to get your ass in the gym in the first place. Then when you get in there and start warming up your body and mind start sensing the stress that is slowly being put on it and that’s when the adrenal glands start getting warmed up and start producing cortisol along with epinephrine.
Have you ever noticed how you may have a day when you are totally unmotivated to go to the gym but somehow you get in there and the next thing you know you are all bright eyed and bushy tailed? You can thank cortisol for that, the same way you can thank it for waking you up in the morning. Cortisol levels are actually highest in the morning and after an intense physical training session.
Knowing how to manage your cortisol levels can play an integral part in how successful you are at the gym and in your day to day life. With the use of such stress management methods such as proper sleep, meditation, relaxation, and smart fitness training programs, cortisol can become a beneficial friend as opposed to a debilitating enemy.