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

Manage Your Lipids

lipids nut avocado fish oil seed

What’s up ? This is THE stephane ANDRE !!! I watched a Jamcore DZ’s video  and I learned some good stuff.

Lipids help with brain function and hormones production like testosterone. Lipids are also the element that is the most energetic : 1gr of lipid is 9kcal while 1gr of protein or carbohydrate is 4kcal.

Lipids create the fat of living beings, which is why we most often use the word « fat ». There is 4 fat’s type :

  • Harmful fat – These are transformed fatty acids like partially hydrogenated oils. We find them everywhere, that’s why it’s important to have an ingredients label on foods.

  • Bad fat – These are saturated fatty acids

  • Neutral fat – These are monounsaturated fatty acids and they’re very beneficial for health.

  • Good fat – These are polyunsaturated fatty acids that are very beneficial. There are 2 families, omega 3 and omega 6. If your body has too much omega 6, it creats health problems.

Type

Harmful fat

It’s fatty acids that are partially hydrogenated oils that are, for example, in Nutella, candy, cookie, fast food and all pastries. It’s advisable to eat them moderately otherwise they create health problems. And unfortunately the majority of people consume this type of fat too much.

Bad fat

It’s fatty acids that are, for example, in butter, beef, cheese, coconut oil and cold cuts. Overeating this type of fat increases the insulin resistance that can cause diabetes. It also decrease the ability of your body to use this type of fat as energy.

But be careful because not all foods that contain this type of fat are equal. Take the example of coconut oil. Coconut oil is full of lauric acid which has excellent antibacterial and digestive properties for the body. This coconut oil is very rich in MCT (Medium Chain Triglyceride) whick is convenient to use to be shreddedd because it helps the fat’s oxydation and keep your muscle mass.

Fatty acids that are in bad fat have an important role in the testosterone’s production, that why it’s recommended to consume it in average quantitiy.

Neutral fat

It’s fatty acids that are, for example, in olive oil, almond oil, macadamia nut, brazilian nut, avocado and oleic sunflower oil. It’s important to diferentiate between oleic sunflower oil and classic sunflower oil. Classic sunflower oil has a lot of omega 6 and this create a lot of inflammation and other health problems. On the other hand, oleic sunflower oil contains oleic acid. Oleic acid has properties that control cholesterol levels by lowering your bad cholesterol and boosting your good cholesterol. Oleic acid is also good for the memory.

Good fat

It’s essential fatty acids, which means these are fats aren’t produced by your body. That’s why they’re important to consume. A deficiency of these good fats will create health problems. There are 2 families : Omega 3 and Omega 6.

Omega 3 : The source of omega 3 are fatty fish like sardines, mackerel, anchovies, salmon and tuna. There are also plant sources such as flaxseed, chia seeds, brussels sprouts, walnuts. It’s recommended to consume the animal source because they’re richer in omega 3 than vegetable sources (unless your eat huge amount of grain).

Omega 6 : The source of omega 6 are, for example, classic sunflower oil or soybean. All these foods with too much omega 6 are too present in the supermarkets. Omega 6 creates a lot of inflammation problem in your body, while Omega 3 decrease inflammation.

Consumption

lipids nut avocado fish oil seed

According to scientists, there is a ratio for having a healthy body. This ratio is :

  • -4/1 so 4 = omega 6 and 1 = omega 3

  • Or 1/1 so 1 = omega 6 and 1 = omega 3

The majority of people consume 20/1 so 20 = omega 6 and 1 = omega 3. That’s why a lot of people have health problems.

Lipids consumption is related to body weight. For exemple, take a person who weighs 85kg and who is beginner/intermediate :

  • To gain mass, it’s 0.9gr to 1gr per kilo of bodyweigth so 0.9 x 85 = 76.5 and 1 x 85 = 85. Which means between 76.5 and 85gr of lipids per day.

  • To be shredded, it’s 0.5 to 0.8gr per kilo of bodyweight so 0.5 x 85 = 42.5 and 0.8 x 85 = 68. Which means between 42.5 and 68 of lipids per day.

Now, take a person who weighs 100kg and who is a pro :

  • To gain mass, it’s 1gr to 1.5gr per kilo of bodyweight so 0.9 x 100 = 100 and 1.2 x 100 = 120. Which means between 100 and 120gr of lipids per day.

  • To be shredded, it’s 0.9 to 1.5gr per kilo of bodyweight so 0.9 x 100 = 90 and 1.5 x 100 = 150. Which means between 90 ans 150gr of lipids per day. A pro can take 150gr of lipid because he decreases carbohydrates.

These amount of lipids are to be divided between 4-5 meals a day for ease of digestion.

To be shredded, it’s really important to consider MCT

You have to pay attention to MCT (Medium Chain Triglyceride) because it increase your thermogenesis. Thermogenesis is what turns calories into heat and increases your metabolism to burn more fat. MCT helps you to be shredded by keeping your muscles mass as much possible.

It’s recommended to take 2 teaspoons of MCT per day, otherwise you will poop everywhere.

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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.

The Bulking’s Myth

bulking

I read an article on T-Nation  and here is what I learned

Here’s what you need to know :

  • After a certain point, your ability to gain muscle will not go faster by consuming more food.

  • The body can’t build more than a few kilograms (pounds) of muscle in a month. Remember that the weight you gain is not only muscle.

  • There is a better way to gain muscle. Don’t used the bulking period as an excuse to eat junk food.

The gluttony game

To have more volume you have to eat more, we agree. You will be able to gain a large amount of muscle mass only if you eat enough calories and nutrients to help your body to build muscle. For those who take steroids, that’s another story. In fact, if you don’t eat enough, it’s possible that you lose muscle even if you train hard. More you eat, more you grown.

But not so fast

If you don’t eat enough, your muscle growth will stagnate but that doesn’t mean that if you eat more, you will gain much more muscle.

A major mistake that you can do when you train to have a muscular physique and aesthetic, it’s eating too much junk food and have a high percentage of body fat to boost your muscle growth.

When you are natural, your body has a limited ability to build muscle. The amount of muscle you can build depends on the ability that your body has to synthesize new muscle tissue from protein you eat.

The ability of your body to synthesize the protein depends on your natural testosterone levels, your testosterone with your cortisol ratio, your insulin sensitivity and your genetics.

You can eat the amount of food that you want, you can’t change your ability to synthesize protein. Overeating will increase your body fat percentage.

Your body is a construction worker

body under construction

Imagine that your muscles is like a house you trying to build. The bricks are amino acids (from proteins) and the money to pay construction workers are carbohydrates and fat you eat.

If you don’t give enough bricks (protein), they will not be able to build the house as fast as they can. A deficiency in protein means a slow muscle growth.

If you don’t pay your construction workers enough with nutrition, they will not be motivated to work hard. If you really don’t pay your construction workers, they will even destroy your muscles (catabolism due to a too low calories intake ).

In summary, if you don’t eat enough protein and calories, you will gain muscle very slowly.

Giving more bricks (protein) to your construction workers , they will be able to build the house faster. But at some point, sending too many bricks will not speed up the construction speed. For example, your construction workers can add 1000 bricks per day in a wall. If you give them 2000 bricks, it will be useless because it will exceed their ability to work. This is the same thing for the salary (calories).

The athletic threshold

« But I gained 6.7kg (15lbs) in 3 months and I didn’t gain fat »

This is something we often hear. If it’s possible to gain only a few kilograms (pounds) of muscle per month, why so many people say they have gained much muscle without gaining fat ?

It’s possible to gain muscle without gaining much fat and the answer is : an athletic body. An athletic body isn’t the body you see in bodybuilding competitions. An athletic body has a body fat percentage between 10-20%.

The guy believe he gained 6.7kg (15lbs) of solid muscle because visually, he looks to have kept the same body fat’s percentage. But if we look in detail, he gained 2.7kg (6lbs) of muscle, 3.1kg (7lbs) of glycogen and 0.9kg (2lbs) of fat in a period of 3 months.

Here are two situations :

Situation A

  • Go on a bulking phase

  • Gain 11.3kg (25lbs) over a period of 6 months

  • The details of 11.3kg (25lbs) is 2.2-4.5kg (5-10lbs) of muscles and the rest is 0.9-1.8kg of glycogen (2-4lbs) and 4.5-6.8kg (10-15lbs) of fat.

  • To lose the excess fat, you have to do a strict diet. If you are extremely strict, you can expect to lose 0.4-0.9kg (1-2lbs) of fat per week without losing muscle.

  • The best scenario is 6-12 weeks to lose fat. Otherwise 12-20 weeks.

Situation B

  • Increase your calories but just enough to give your body the nutrition needed to maximize your muscle growth.

  • You gain 0.6kg (1.5lbs) of muscle per month with less fat.

  • After 6 months, you gain weight 2.2-4.5kg (5-10lbs) but only 1.3-2.2kg (3-5lbs) of fat.

  • To lose fat, you need to do a diet for a month.

The best way

Many people ruin the potential of their body with the internet gurus tips that advise eating as much as possible (even junk food). Result, a lo of unnecessary fat that gives the impression of being muscular.

Many people don’t eat enough to help muscle growth but eating too much or eating junk food isn’t the solution. We must calculate the number of calories that we have to take a day and select food throughout the year.

Did you go in a bulking period ?

-Steph