Cortisol a hormone necessary for the inflammatory response, regulation of blood pressure and immune function. However, most bodybuilders understand that too much cortisol creates an environment that eats away as muscle mass and makes gains impossible.
Bodybuilders understand the importance of protein supplementation before and after a workout, but many still shy away from carbs during this time. They could be making a big mistake – recent studies show that exercise without carb supplementation close to the workout can increase cortisol responses to training.
Conversely, scientists down at Charles Sturt University, Bathurst, Australia report a simple, yet highly effective way to cut cortisol responses and create a hormone profile most conducive to building muscle.
The primary objective of this study by the Aussie researchers was to investigate the influence of supplementation on acute hormonal responses to a single bout of resistance exercise in young men. Specifically, the aim was to determine whether the acute hormonal profile conducive to building muscle can be enhanced by supplementation.
Thirty-two (32) subjects performed a single bout of resistance exercise during which they consumed a 6% carbohydrate solution, with or without amino acids, or a placebo beverage. Blood samples were collected every 15 minutes throughout the exercise bout, immediately after exercise, and 15 and 30 minutes after exercise for analysis of total testosterone, cortisol, growth hormone, insulin, and glucose.
The most interesting finding was that exercise without supplementation sent circulating cortisol levels through the roof after training. The presence of protein (amino acids) didn’t have that much of an effect on cortisol levels. However, the presence of carbs was most effective at blunting the exercise-induced cortisol response to training.
The researchers concluded that carbs consumed during and after your training are critical for promoting an anabolic environment – not only by increasing insulin levels but also reducing circulating cortisol concentrations.
The right carbs at the right time cut cortisol and help build muscle. A serving or two of DGC during and immediately after training will help promote the ideal hormonal environment that speeds recovery and accelerates gains in muscle mass.
Liquid carbohydrate ingestion during a short-term bout of resistance exercise. Metabolism. 55:570-7, 2008.