Build Muscle Faster By Lowering Cortisol Levels

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A hard gainer…or just a stress case?

Do you get frustrated that however much you train you just don't seem to put on muscle as easily as the 'other' guy. Are you starting to think you're a 'hard gainer'? There may be a good reason as to why you're not putting on muscle or maybe not as quickly as you would like and it's a rarely talked about hormone called cortisol. If you want to build muscle and gain weight, one of the most important steps you can take is to get your cortisol levels under control.

Cortisol is a hormone released by your adrenal glands in response to either physical or emotional stress. Whether it’s an extremely low calorie diet, missed nights of sleep, having arguments or getting caught in a traffic jam, your body responds in much the same way. It just dumps out cortisol.

It's the same hormone our stone age ancestors dumped out when a saber-toothed tiger was trying to kill them and they had to run for their very lives. Fortunately we don't have such life-threatening experiences, but our body still dumps it out each time someone cuts us up in a traffic jam or someone takes too long finding their money at the supermarket checkout.

If you have a stressful job, for example, it's likely that your cortisol levels are through the roof. One of the effects of elevated cortisol production is to increase the flow of protein out of your muscle cells to convert into energy to help you run for your life (in the event of being chased by a saber-toothed tiger!). This will make muscle growth next to impossible, because cortisol smothers muscle growth just like throwing a blanket on a raging campfire.

Most experts believe that suppressing cortisol levels helps to maintain muscle mass during periods of increased stress and intense training.

Here are 5 simple steps you can take to lower your cortisol levels and take the brakes off muscle growth…

1. Get more sleep
If you want to build the kind of body that gets the girls, your work-hard play-hard mantra will need to go the same way as the kebabs and the beer – in the bin!. Quite apart from the fact they cause your work-day productivity to drop to almost zero, late-night parties and midnight drinking sessions will undo all the hard work you put in at the gym. Sleep is vital for rest, recovery, repair and growth.

Without enough sleep, your cortisol levels will shoot through the roof! Researchers from the University of Chicago, for example, found that six nights of sleep deprivation led to a significant rise in evening cortisol levels. Always aim for around 7-8 hours sleep every night.

2. Minimise the stress in your life
Stress can be the number one progress killer. Arguments at home, long stressful hours at work, missed meals, lack of sleep, and general chaos all contribute to that "stressed" feeling you get. If you want to get results, it's vital that you stay as calm as possible. If you hate your job, get a new one. If your partner is driving you insane and you can’t stand the sight of them, get rid of them. If you aren’t sleeping well, see your doctor. All of these things have the effect of raising your cortisol levels and make it harder just to hold onto the muscle you already have, let alone build any new muscle. Have a massage or sit in the spa after your workout. Do whatever it takes to relax.

3. Keep your workouts short
Your workouts should last no more than 45 minutes, 60 minutes tops. Any longer than this and your body will enter a catabolic state… muscle-wasting cortisol levels are on the rise… muscle-building testosterone levels drop. Long workouts like this are just asking for trouble.

4. Use phosphatidylserine
Phosphatidylserine (pronounced fos-fa-dial-sereen, or PS for short) belongs to a special category of fat-soluble substances called phospholipids. One exciting feature of PS is its ability to lower cortisol levels. In fact, clinical trials by scientists at the University of Naples show that PS lowers cortisol by a whopping 40% [1, 2]. You can buy PS supplements separately, but it's also found in high-quality instantised whey protein, such as Promax by Maximuscle.

5. Drink tea
Researchers from University College London (UCL) have found that regular cups of tea can help speed recovery from stress. Men who drank black tea four times a day for six weeks were found to have lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol than a control group who drank a fake tea substitute, the researchers say in a study published in the journal Psychopharmacology.

The tea drinkers also reported a greater feeling of relaxation after performing tasks designed to raise stress levels. Although it does not appear to reduce the actual levels of stress we experience, tea does seem to have a greater effect in bringing stress hormone levels back to normal.

In the study, 75 tea-drinking men were split into two groups, all giving up their normal tea, coffee and caffeinated drinks. Half were given a fruit-flavored caffeinated tea mixture made up of the usual constituents of a cup of black tea. The others were given a caffeinated substitute, identical in taste but without the active tea ingredients.

Neither the participants or the researchers knew who was drinking real or false tea. At the end of six weeks, the participants were given a series of tests designed to raise their stress levels, including being given five minutes to prepare and deliver a presentation.

The researchers found that stress levels, blood pressure and heart rate rose similar amounts in both groups. But 50 minutes after the tasks cortisol levels had fallen an average of 47 percent among the tea drinkers, compared to 27 percent in the fake tea group.

References
1. Monteleone P, Beinat L, Tanzillo C, Maj M, Kemali D. (1990). Effects of phosphatidylserine on the neuroendocrine response to physical stress in humans. Neuroendocrinology, 52, 243-248
2.Monteleone P, Maj M, Beinat L, Natale M, Kemali D. (1992). Blunting by chronic phosphatidylserine administration of the stress-induced activation of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis in healthy men. Eur J Clin Pharmacol, 42, 385-888

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lynn ziglar   |.
I like the tea deal and I think your cortisol levels would be extremely high due
to stress. High cortisol levels, lack of sleep blocks insulin, smothers muscle
growth. Promax by Maximuscle supplement lowers cortisol levels 40%.
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