Cortisol is a steroid hormone produced in your body’s adrenal gland and is released during high-stress physical and mental states such as intense exercise, anger, trauma, and even in extreme temperatures.
Cortisol and Muscle Breakdown
When cortisol is secreted, it causes a breakdown of muscle protein (catabolism). The amino acids from this broken down protein are released into the bloodstream and are used by the liver to synthesize glucose for energy. This process is called gluconeogenesis. This raises the blood sugar level to ensure the brain will have more glucose for energy. This process prepares the body to deal with stressors and ensures that the brain maintains an adequate energy source via glucose.
Cortisol is necessary and plays a role in just about every function in the human body. However, excesses and deficiencies of cortisol can lead to various physical abnormalities and disease states. This being the case, your body has a very elaborate feedback system to maintain optimum cortisol control.
You can’t escape cortisol release, and you don’t want to. However, you can strategically manipulate cortisol secretion to maximize your body’s anabolic activities. This is where optimizing the timing of your nutrition comes into play.
Cortisol secretion is very high during and directly after training. In fact, what most people don’t realize is that training itself is catabolic to muscle tissue. It’s the recovery process, which starts immediately after training, that is anabolic to muscle tissue.
The longer you go without supplying nutritional support after you train, the longer elevated cortisol levels will remain, the more muscle breakdown you will experience, and the less anabolic response you will get from your training. This goes for both weight training and often overlooked post-cardio as well. This is just one reason why a post-workout VP2 or even more effective, MyoGenin shake is so important and critical for optimizing muscle growth and fat loss.
Sleep and Cortisol
One last thing, cortisol levels are naturally elevated after sleep. When you first wake up, your cortisol levels are high. Those that still insist on weight training or doing cardio on an empty stomach under the misguided assumption that this somehow burns more fat are only intensifying cortisol’s catabolic effects on lean muscle. You’ll actually increase muscle loss and decrease your body’s ability to burn fat.
The best way to combat elevated post-sleep cortisol levels is to have a MyoGenin shake as soon as you wake up. You’ll reduce cortisol’s catabolic effects and jump-start muscle anabolism first thing in the morning. If you change nothing other than adding a MyoGenin shake first thing in the morning, you’ll notice an almost immediate spike in new muscle growth and strength.