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

Nutrition

nutrition, food, energy, diet, metabolism, nutrient, calorie,

What’s up ? This is THE stephane ANDRE. With my training, I’m interested in nutrition to stay in shape. I read a Arnold Schwarzenegger’s book « Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding » and I learned some good stuff.

Training stimulate muscle growth. To have an effective training, it’s necessary that your body has the sufficient amount of energy and enough raw materials. The role of nutrition is to carry this energy and these raw materials.

The function of nutrition is to learn how to stay lean, mean and muscular. With nutrition we learn how much food to eat in order to have the best results possible. This allows you to study the basic nutrients and calculate the amount you need. This also includes studying protein, vitamin, mineral and other supplements.

Learning nutrition allows you to be more muscular. It improves your health and improves your immune system to be able to do all your training sessions without being sick (cold for example). Good nutrition has other advantages, such as improving our recovery after training with very heavyweights, having a beautiful healthy skin, having excellent internal organs and the list is long.

Precious

precious, value, priceless, worth, rare,

For a bodybuilder, the basic of nutrition are as precious as the basic principles of training. Exercices requires energy and the amount of nutrients you eat is essential to having the body you want.

During the Arnold Classic, athletes are interviewed after their appearance on stage. At the question « What do you feel was the most important factor that helped you get in such tremendous shape for this contest ? », athletes don’t respond that it’s thanks to bench press, squat or muscle isolation. In the majortiy of cases, they explain that they improve their nutrition or their supplement to gain muscle, lose fat and be able to train with maximum energy until the competition’s day.

It’s important to say that advance in nutrition and supplements are the main reason why we’re seeing athletes with this excellent level today. Attention, progress has improved the training with the years but training has not been revolutionized as nutrition. Training and nutrition are complementary because it’s impossible to create a champion only with good nutrition. It’s essential that athletes have an intensive training, a good mental attitude and a good knowledge of nutrition.

In the past, bodybuilders approached nutrition on instinct, seat-of-the-pants basis. In a first phase, they were building muscle and getting big, but not really ripped. In a second phase, they were getting thinner (like Harnold Poole or Vince Gironda) but they were getting small. They hadn’t found the trick yet to stay big and getting ripped at the same time.

Nutrition’s fundamental are quite simple. In fact, I can’t say that it’s simple because each body is unique. It’s important to study these basic principles to apply them to your training, to understand the needs of your body and to see how your body reacts to different diets to gain or lose weight. There is always this instinctive aspect but with this nutritive knowledge, it’s easier to adjust the quantity to have the body that you want.

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-Steph

P.S. If you’re in Miami and you like Caribbean food, go to my cousin’s bistro to eat Haitian food, click here.

Techniques To Learn Quickly And Efficiently Based On Science (Part 2)

learn

I watched an Olivier Roland’s video  and I learned good stuff.

If you didn’t read the Part 1, click here .

Ok, this software used in the scientific study is not accessible for more than 80 % of the population but there are several software that can allow you to improve your intelligence like that used in the scientific study.

There is IQ Mindware. There is another one that is open source so free called Brain Workshop. These software are for people who really want to improve their intelligence because they are based on the principle of Dual n-back . It’s very difficult and it’s the only way to improve your intelligence.

The results of this scientific study showed that the maximum gains obtained with 20 minutes of training per day for 19 consecutive days. This is 10 % improvement with the 8 consecutive days of training and 44 % with 19 consecutive days of training.

Train your brain with IQ Mindware or Brain Workshop (I use this one) will allow you to improve your concentration and motivation. Everything you need to improve your ability to have successful projects.

Meditation

meditation

Meditation is excellent for improving your concentration. Before, I was often lost in my thoughts when I was doing a task and in the end, this task was done badly. Have you ever been lost in your thoughts when you were doing a task ?

Meditation is cool because you can do this in 5 minutes a day and you don’t need any equipment. You just need a little time and a quiet place. You see meditation is accessible to everyone and can be done by people of all religions or these who have no religion.

The goal of meditation is to train your concentration. That means to focus your attention on something specific. For example in bodybuilding, when you do the dumbbell curls, you fix your attention on your biceps. Meditation is a simple and effective way to become aware of your « parasitic thoughts ». These « parasitic thoughts » that make you no longer focused on your task and lost in your thoughts. When you realize that you’re lost in your thoughts, you can redirect your thoughts to be focus again on your task.

Scientific studies have discovered and are still discovering meditation’s benefits like an enormous reduction of stress, anxiety, anger, depression, immune system improvement, positive emotional improvement and a better attention. For people with hypertension, there is a decrease in blood pressure and an increase in longevity of 23 %. Scientists always find new benefits in meditation.

And

and

Meditation improves health AND also intelligence as ability to manage emotion, increase concentration, reduce attention problems, increase memory and visual processing capacity, improve learning ability and reduce your risk to multi-task. Doing multi-task ruin your productivity.

If you want to enjoy meditation’s benefits, you can start with a simple exercise without equipment today :

  • You sit comfortably in a quiet place. If you want you can sit in the lotus position but it’s not obligatory. You close your eyes and take 3 deep deep breaths to relax. Once you relaxed, you focus on your breathing. You focus on your inhalation and your exhalation and the goal is to concentrate as long as possible on your breathing

While you are going to think about your breathing, full of thoughts will come constantly and it’s normal. It’s destabilizing but there is a technique for your mind to be less distracted. The technique is to count the number of your inhalation and exhalation.

  • When you inhale, you count « 1 » in your head (don’t speak) and when you exhale, you count « 1 » then when you inhale, you count « 2 » and when you exhale, you count « 2 ». You do it from 1 to 10. When you’re 10, you count upside down from 10 to 0. When you realize that you’re lost in your thoughts and you’ve lost count of the number of breathing, you start again at « 0 ». You don’t give up until you’ve been able to count from 0 to 10 and 10 to 0 without interruption at least once.

You’ll see that many thoughts will come because it’s absolutely impossible to think of nothing. Don’t worry, it’s normal. As soon as you realize that you’re lost in your thoughts, come back to focus on your breathing without feeling any particular guilt.

Do this simple meditation 5 minutes a day will give you many benefits that I quoted in this article.

Scientific studies

scientific study

Here is a list of scientific studies concerning benefits meditation.

« A Randomized Controlled Trial Of Compassion Cultivation Training: Effects On Mindfulness, Affect, And Emotion Regulation », Hooria Jazaieri, 2013. Click here

« Initial results from a study of the effects of meditation on multitasking performance », David M. Levy, 2011. Click here.

« Effects of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy on neurophysiological correlates of performance monitoring in adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder », Poppy L.A. Schoenberg, 2013. Click here.

« Mindfulness meditation improves cognition: Evidence of brief mental training », Fadel Zeidan, 2010. Click here.

« Buddha’s Brain: Neuroplasticity and Meditation », Richard J. Davidson, 2010. Click here

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

-Steph