How To Control Cortisol To Keep Muscles (Part 1)

cortisol hormone organ body

Cortisol. It’s a weird name that I hear rarely. One time, in the gym, a guy told me to be careful about it. When I asked him what is it, he told me: “It’s the stress”. Follow this logic, we stress every day, it means each day we lose a little bit of muscle? It makes no sense. The first time I tried to learn about it, I didn’t understand anything. Cortisol is a hormone and you have to learn some medical things. I didn’t like this situation, because I wanted to know how to control cortisol to keep muscles.

This week, someone told me about cortisol and his explanation was very vague. I see that many people are afraid of it because they don’t understand it. It’s time to go deeper to understand Cortisol, because the body doesn’t create it to destroy itself.

What is its role

role

Cortisol is a stress hormone and it works like a type of alarm system in your body. It controls your fear, motivation, mood to handle dangerous situations. This hormone has several role:

Organize the energy of the stores

It organizes all type of energy that your body has to always be functional for a dangerous event. It means amino acids from muscle tissue, muscle and liver glycogen and fatty acids from body fat.

Stabilize blood sugar levels

When your blood sugar levels are very low, it helps to keep normal levels.

Boost your stamina and attention

Cortisol boosts Phenylethanolamine-N-methyltransferase (PNMT). PNMT is an enzyme that transforms noradrenaline to adrenaline. This method increases your adrenaline’s rate.

Boost the power of muscle contraction

This is a consequence of a high rate of adrenaline.

Boost the power of heart contraction and rate

It’s an effect of a high adrenaline’s level. Oxygen move better to muscle

Weaken the immune system

When there is a threatening situation, the body needs all the resources possible. For example, a fight. The high rate of cortisol will weaken the immune system to have the maximum of energy possible. When the rate decreases, the immune system has the full power back to repair the damage from the fight.

All these roles help you to get through an unsafe situation and survive. The thing is if the cortisol has a high rate for a long time, it can create problems in your body. Let’s see in different areas how cortisol can be bad.

Muscle Gain

gain muscle

A high rate of cortisol for a long period can impact muscle in a unhealthy way with these methods:

Muscle is less feed by food

Muscle receive fewer amino acids to create new tissue. Restocking of glycogen stores is decline too.

Boost muscle damage

There is a high level of protein damage (catabolism) than protein synthesis (anabolism). This is why we say “stress (cortisol) eat the muscle”.

Muscle take more time to repair

The immune system is very important to repair muscle. When a high rate of cortisol is recurring, it weakens the immune system.

Boost myosatin

Myostatin is a myokine, a protein created by the muscle and it limits its growth. It means when you have a high rate of myostatin, it limits your muscle gain.

On the long term it declines testosterone rate

Pregnenolone is a hormone that creates testosterone and cortisol. To have a high rate of cortisol, your body needs a huge amount of pregnenolone to make it. It means there will be less pregnenolone to create testosterone.

At the end of your training session, the level of your protein synthesis is big for around 24-30 hours. This is the period where your body repairs your muscle and add new tissue. When your immune system is fragile, your body uses these amounts of hours to only repair the breakdown you caused. Your body is not able to produce new muscle, it means you don’t gain muscle.

Recovery

fat loss weight

A long period of high rate of cortisol can impact your recovery in these ways:

Decrease the production of growth hormone

At night you have a natural spike of growth hormone and a high rate of cortisol disrupt your recovery. When your recovery is not optimal, you don’t progress.

Decline muscle glycogen storage

Gycogen is critical in the process of recovery.

Speed down the reparation of muscle

Growth hormone maintains, build and repair tissue. It means it also builds muscle mass. You gain muscle by repairing muscle. When the cortisol decreases the production of growth hormone, you don’t have results.

Increase adrenaline rate

Adrenaline (or epinephrine) is a helpful hormone before a workout session. It boosts your cardiorespiratory activity (more oxygen to the muscles). It also improves your metabolism, your mood, and your body is more reactive. Before to go to bed, it doesn’t help you to sleep.

Fat loss

The famous coach Charles Poliquin said that when you have too much cortisol, it stores your fat in abs. There is a problem here because cortisol has also as function to organize stored energy. Fat is a kind of energy for the body. It means cortisol doesn’t store fat, you know, fat is energy.

Another function of cortisol is that is a fat loss hormone when the rate is high while a short time. If the high rate is recurring, it complicated the action to fat loss.

Decline the transformation of hormone T4 to T3

A little explanation about these hormones. The thyroid is a gland in the neck. It creates three hormones: triiodothyronine (T3), thyroxine (T4) and calcitonin. T3 and T4 adjust the temperature of your body, your metabolism, and your heart rate. T3 usually sticks to protein in your body.

The thyroid creates a lot of T4 to change it in T3. T3 modifies the metabolism rate. When you have a high rate of metabolism, you burn more calories. In the case where your body has a low level of energy, the thyroid creates less T4. Fewer T4 means fewer T3 and the result is a low metabolism rate and the body burns fewer calories.

Do you remember what happens in a situation when your body lacks food? The cortisol rate is high to keep blood sugar stable and organize stored energy. This is a mechanism of the body to survive since the prehistoric era. Today is good because access to food is better. Unfortunately, cortisol can have a high rate because of other stress factors.

Insulin resistance

Cortisol boosts the blood sugar rate in a crisis event (lacking food, running away or fighting). These emergency circumstances allow the body to release glucose for energy. When people are sedentary and the blood sugar level is high, it’s not good. The level stays longer high and can drive to hyperglycemia. The body to avoid it creates insulin to decline the rate of blood sugar to a normal level.

Imagine a situation where cortisol’s rate is high a lot of time. It boosts the blood sugar levels and the body produces insulin every time. The result of this is insulin resistance. In the plan to lose fat, settle a caloric deficit is crucial. Unfortunately, insulin resistance and a metabolic rate low make the process more difficult. It can even create a surplus of fat.

Let’s be things clear, insulin alone doesn’t make you fat, it stores the elements of your food. It’s when insulin has a high rate that is tough for the body to use fat in a good way.

Insulin resistance means that the cells work badly with insulin. The result is the body needs to create more insulin to do the same task with the cells. When there is a huge amount of insulin, it takes more time to go back to the normal level. When there is a big quantity of insulin for a long time, the body has trouble to use fat.

It is the same thing for cortisol. Alone, cortisol doesn’t make you fat. It’s when cortisol has a high rate that is tough for the body to use it in a good way.

Share this article if you think it can help someone you know. Thank you.

-Steph

When you start, be at 100 %

start begin

I read a Nerd Fitness article and there is good stuff.

It was when the last time you were at 100 % to change your life ?

If you’re like me, it had to be hard. We’re afraid of being at 100 % and not succeeding. We want a plan B. We’re afraid to fail in front of our parents and friends.

Instead of being at 100 %, we will be at 50 % by this way, if we fail, we can say : « this system doesn’t work » or « I didn’t really try » or « I already knew it wasn’t going to work ».

Let’s listen to this Charles Bukowski’s poem :

It’s true, this poem doesn’t concern physical transformation but it is applicable .

We prefer to be at 50 % because if we’re at 100 % and we fail, what is left ? If we’re at 100 % and we fail, we will say to ourselves we’re failures, we aren’t good enough.

In reality, be at 100 % and fail is the best thing that could happen. When we used the maximum of our efforts and we fail, we improve our level for the next time. And especially, we don’t have regret. My mother was still talking to me about her regrets, again, 2 days ago. Regrets is poison.

Talk to people who are older than you and you will see their regret’s list is huge.

  • When we’re at 100 % and we fail, we make the first step to a true improvement.

  • When we’re at 50 % and we fail, we have regrets.

If you want improve your physique, be at 100 %. Give the maximum of your efforts, each day and see what you able to do. It’s not only for few days or weeks, it’s for all your life. You improve your body for all your life, not just to show off on the beach in summer.

Remember, if you try, be at 100 %:

« It could mean derision. It could mean mockery–isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it ».

« And, you’ll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you’re going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It’s the only good fight there is ».

Or like say Yoda in Star Wars : « Do or do not, there is no try ».

100 %

100%

We have one life on this planet and we can’t get what we want by being at 50 % because we’re afraid of failure or rejection or worst, fear of success. It’s the to get out of your comfort zone and be comfortable with being uncomfortable.

No self-sabotage, use the maximum of your efforts to reach your goals.

In my case I focus on 2 things : my blog and building strength

-Steph

P.S. Do you want a free training program ? Click here 

Be Limitless Like In The Movie

limitless

I read an Nerd Fitness article  and there is good stuff.

You’ve heard we use only 10 % of our brain. Do you imagine be able to use 100 % of your brain ?

The book and the movie « Limitless » are based on it and when I watched the movie, I liked it. A lot of people liked because we dream about it for years.

« Limitless » is the Eddie Mora’s story who by chance find pills that give a unlimited power to his brain. He write a book in 4 days, he leans several new langages, he stops smoking, he lose weight and gain muscle. He earns a lot of money in stock market.

This guy transformed his life in video game (he becomes a little bit like James Bond). Is it possible to become more productive without medications ?

How

To become limitless, here is the list of things we should be able to do :

  • Read more often – We can read a book very very quick and remember all the important things.

  • Write a book – We can write a book in few days or weeks instead years.

  • Learn a langage – We can talk a langage in few weeks and we can have a nice conversation with people with that langage is their native langage.

  • Have an excellent physique – We can train in an effective way without spend several hours in the gym to see results.

Maybe you will change some things in this list but I think this list is fun.

The concept is to accomplish more things by spending less time :

  • The ability to retain more information

  • The ability to spend more time to learn

  • Make the time you spend learning to be more effective

  • The ability to learn more different things quickly

First : Exercice

exercice work out

Here a excerpt from an article of Scott’s website « Live Your Legend »  :

While on a boat with Richard Branson, a man asked « How can I be more productive ? » Keep in mind, Richard is the founder and operator of a 400-company conglomerate. He also has dyslexia and a pretty piss poor academic track record.

Yet somehow, from space travel to deep sea exploration, to music and cell phones, this guy has literally been able to accomplish a bazillion times more than the average Joe. And he’s still only 61.

Hence, the crowd of boat passengers hung on the edge of their seat cushions in anticipation of what turned out to be an unbelievably simple answer…

Richard responded: « Work out ».

Charles Basch of Columbia University summarized how exercices affect functions :

  • Increase oxygen flux to the brain

  • Increase brain neurotransmitters

  • Increase neurotrophins that ensure the survival of neurons in the areas responsible for learning, memory and higher thinking

Dr John Rathey who wrote « Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain »

 

and « Driven to Distraction: The Study of Attention Deficit Hyper Disorder »

 

 

give many studies on physical activity and the increase of focus and the increase of the memorization when we study. « Exercices don’t make you more intelligent but they help to optimize the brain to learn ».

It’s with this study that  Charles Hillman discovered that do a few phyical exercices before school can increase memory of 5-10 % among children.

Second : the plan

Malcolm Gladwell says in his book « Outliers »

that people become expert after 10 000 hours of pratice. Warning, you must learn in the good way, otherwise you become an expert by doing it with a bad execution.

It’s mean, if we learn something in the good way, 8 hours per day everydays, we should be an expert in 3 years and a half.

But we don’t have all this time and we don’t want to be the master of the experts.

When we learn a langage, a dance, a martial art or a new musical instrument, we need to identify the key movements or the key words. We need to become proficient in the skill. Don’t worry about the rest of the stuff.

Exemple :

A new instrument

Rather than studying complex compositions of classical music, look current music and studies the patterns.

  • If you learn basic guitar chords, you can learn 80 % of popular music.

  • If you learn basic piano chords, you can quickly learn pop music you always wanted to play.

The goal isn’t to to play in a symphonic orchestra but to learn the basics and take pleasure in making progress.

Look this book « The Talent Code »

 

to have more information to learn properly.

Third : Environment

environment for success

Now our brains are ready to learn and we identified the skills or goals we want to have, it’s the time to create an environment for success.

I wrote an article to create your headquarter . We will do the same thing to help us to become limitless.

A : Stop to being multitasking

Often people advise to be able to do several thing in the same time but the only thing this behavior do is to decrease your ability to learn and your productivity. Look the results you have when you work and every 10 minutes you watch a video on YouTube. Every time you change activity before you finish, you become less creative and productive.

Si you want be productive, focus on one thing and finish it. If you learn a new langage, dedicate time only for it and nothing else.

B : Remove all distractions

Often people thing they can do their passion in evening around 21h-22h (9pm-10pm). It’s not true because people are distracted very easy all day. They spend a lot of time on Facebook, Youtube, Gmail, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. Then when everybody sleep, it’s at this moment they work on their passion.

Work on your passion immediately after your school/work and you will see the difference. It’s guarantee !

There are apps like « Self Control »  to allow you to not be distract any more

If you want write a book, go in a boring place. Don’t go in a place where there is a lot of cool stuff.

If you want read a book, go in a place where there isn’t TV. Don’t be tempted or cancel you cable (we can watch everything on internet now).

Be Limitless

Here principles :

Exercice. In the morning 10 minutes of bodyweight’s exercice

Plan. You know exactly the 2 skills you need to study and they must be done before 16h (4pm).

Environment. Blocks for a certain time websites that can disctract you. Cancel your cable also.

Hack

hack

Everydays

James Clear’s tip . If you learn a musical instrument or a langage, do it for 5 minutes each day. Create this habit is more important than the « perfect » time.

Use help of others

If you want learn something quickly, you can find some people who learned this skill quickly. Ask to this person how he/she learned this and test it.

Make mistakes the 1st day

You can learn a langage with a grammar book for years but if you don’t speak this langage with people, it’s useless. It’s like deadlift or something else, accepts that failure is a part of the process to be better.

Learn 1-2 new skills

Learn Taekwondo, piano and spanish is too much. Select 1-2 and stay focus on it.

Different kind of music

If you try to read more or be more productive at work, experiment different type of music like rap, electro, classical music, movie soundtrack, etc. At different moment of the day, you need to be in a different state of mind (calm, aggressive), use music to be more productive.

Sleep more

In the movie « Limitless », Eddie Mora lives with the minimal hours of sleep every day. In the reality, it isn’t possible to sleep 4h. A body lacking sleep functions similarly to an intoxicated body  .

What skill or goal you want reach ?

-Steph

Do you want a free training program ? Click here