Cortisol and Training
Cortisol, adrenaline and DHEA are all made by the adrenal glands. When you have a prolonged imbalance between these three - elevated levels of cortisol and adrenaline, and slightly lowered levels of DHEA, you may begin to feel a tad worn-out and stressed.
Cortisol is the adrenal hormone that helps you get going in the mornings – so cortisol starts out higher in the morning and slowly tapers until evening when it is replaced by rising levels of melatonin (the sleep hormone). Stress however, causes cortisol levels to elevate at night instead of decrease.
What happens with prolonged high cortisol levels
Chronic elevation in cortisol is extremely detrimental to your health. It has been linked to heart disease, excessive high blood sugar levels, elevated cholesterol, excess body fat (particularly around the belly), and depressed libido levels in both men and women. In addition, cortisol can pack on fat around the middle. As you eat less to compensate for this unwanted fat gain, your body senses (more) stress and releases more cortisol, making you fatter.
Alcohol increases cortisol levels, whilst smoking has been found to reduce melatonin levels. Both not ideal…
For athletes, chronic higher levels of cortisol can directly affect your performance: Sluggish recovery from sessions, plus losses in strength, power, muscle endurance and cardiovascular endurance. Enough to frustrate even the most motivated competitor.
How do you know if your cortisol levels are high?
Medical testing for high levels of cortisol look for severe adrenal malfunction - such as Addison's Disease or Cushing's Syndrome; so unless you’re really ill, these tests will not reveal much. You can, however, look at the following symptoms associated with higher cortisol levels and make smart lifestyle changes to improve your overall energy levels.
Some symptoms of chronic higher levels of cortisol may include:
Difficulty physically and mentally "waking up" before 10h00, even if you have been awake since early morning
Sleepy or “foggy” brain between 14h00 and 16h00
Burst of energy after 18h00
Mild depression and anxiety
Muscular weakness, slow recovery from training
Inability to handle foods or drinks high in carbohydrates, caffeine or potassium
Light-headedness when getting up from a sitting or lying down
Fat gain (especially around the belly)
Cravings for salt, fat and high protein foods
Low body temperature.
Recommended lifestyle changes to feel energised again!
Exercise regularly, but balance your intense sessions with stretch sessions – such as yoga.
Cut sugar and junk food. Excessive refined carbohydrates generate constantly elevated insulin levels which in turn causes higher cortisol levels.
Limit caffeine to possibly one cup per day and eliminate caffeine entirely after lunchtime.
Avoid taking pharmaceutical drugs – unless prescribed by your GP.
Eat six servings of different coloured vegetables daily to attain a wide variety of nutrients.
Don’t allow yourself to get overly hungry often, as this also results in a rise in cortisol.
Include quality protein with each meal – I use YUMMY LeanPlex for my mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack meals.
Use butter (instead of margarine). Butter and Cheese – especially Emmentaler cheese are high in adrenal-nourishing conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).
Include extra-virgin olive or coconut oil with every meal
Supplement with vitamins and minerals: Betacarotene, Vitamin B’s (especially pantothenic acid), C, E and zinc.
Go to bed early and aim for at least 7 hours sleep per night, preferably 8.
Laughing. Yep – Taking yourself too seriously pushes up cortisol. No one on their death bed has ever wished that they’d spent more time stressing…
LEANPLEX - A meal shake that you can use daily - To keep your recovery good and your bodyfat low
The LeanPlex Meal Shake is a high protein, low carb, low GI carb shake - which you can take at anytime during a busy day, when you can't get to a regular balanced meal! Most folk who wish to recover fast from their training as well as lose a bit of bodyfat, take LeanPlex at around 10h00 and 15h00. Simply add water - it tastes really yummy! The full serving of the LeanPlex has only 160 cal - which is roughly equivalent to only 2 apples. The low GI will help maintain stable blood sugar levels - and as a result, you won't be hungry for some time after you have had it - this translates into less calories consumed over the day and when combined with consistent exercise and eating correctly....you will have subsequent fatloss...Taste is awesome! LeanPlex is available in Chocolate, Vanilla and Strawberry
20 to 23 grams Protein (equivalent to a large chicken breast) of a specialised 90% full spectrum protein blend from whey, calcium caseinate and sodium caseinate)
Only low GI carbohydrate - low calories - but will sustain you for hours...
High in free-form Glutamine and Glutamine Peptides (great for recovery and for your immune system - but without the high carbs!)
Very low Lactose (Digests with EASE!)
Only 160 Calories per serving (about 2 apples only!)
NO Sucrose. NO ASPARTAME.
NO stimulants - just good, low calorie food...
TASTES AWESOME in just WATER! Mixes easily...
A tub of LeanPlex contains 35 servings (which will last you about a month - if you take it twice a day - 10h00 and 15h00, Monday to Friday)...leave your LeanPlex at the office for a fast, tasty and convenient meal!
· 1 serving 10h00
· 1 serving 15h00
In water - fatfree milk is not necessary for TASTE!
Or use at any time when you are too rushed to grab a HEALTHY meal!Available in:
Delicious Chocolate Malt and Vanilla Velvet and Strawberry
Suggested Eating Plan to cut Bodyfat, Support Lean Muscle Tone and Increase Energy!
UPON WAKING: 2-4 Capsules of FAT-LESS
Training: A combination of Resistance Training and Cardiovascular Fitness
- One medium bowl of unflavoured original oats – (not the flavoured or caramelised type - as these are very high in hidden fats and sugars)
- Or 1 Whole or 3 Egg whites if you prefer – boiled or poached - or if you don’t have time, simply add 1 scoop of LeanPlex to your Jungle oats and skip the egg – the Leanplex will replace the protein in the egg and will give you everything you need
- One fatfree AND sugarfree yoghurt. You can add the yoghurt to your oats for flavour – without having to add honey or sugar.
- 2 Scoops LeanPlex with water or fatfree milk
- 1 fruit (Optional)
Around Lunch: 2-4 Capsules of FAT-LESS
- One portion (i.e. size of your fist) of skinless chicken, lean red meat (STEAK), or fish (Salmon is best!)
- One portion potato or sweet potato, brown rice or butternut / pumpkin / squashes etc - see list of low to medium glycemic carbs on the list of "Good Food Choices"
- One generous helping of extra virgin (cold pressed) olive oil or flaxseed oil
- Large portion of steamed or raw - or close to raw - veggies or salad
- (Cook double quantity night before, chop up for easy eating during a busy day & pack into lunchbox for the next day).
- 2 Scoops LeanPlex with water or fatfree milk
- 1 fruit (Optional)
- One portion grilled skinless chicken, or lean red meat, or fish
- Large portion of green leafy veggies with extra virgin olive oil (cold pressed)
- Small portion of starchy carbs - Choose starches from the earth - such as sweet potato, potato, butternut. (Man-made starch - such as pasta, or bread is not the most nutritious choice)
- Drink 750mls water per hour during training
- Make sure that you are taking in protein and a small portion of carbohydrate every 2 to 3 hours.
- Be sure to have a serving of starchy carb at lunch time - sweet potato, brown rice etc
- Include as many different coloured vegetables and / or salad in at least 2 of your meals.
- Be sure to include some olive oil or flaxseed oil, at both lunch and supper.
- Get 8 hours sleep per night.
- Avoid or restrict alcohol - This has a highly estrogenic effect on both men and women!
- Have one "free" meal or one "free" day per week - such as Sunday
- Stay patient and be consistent with your eating plan and training programme.
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