If you picture a yin yang, the white section would represent all things “good” for your body regarding everything from muscle growth to fat loss and even the replenishment of your immune system.
The black section would without doubt represent cortisol; this “dark” facet of the human body is (in a nut shell) designed to break things down.
By breaking things down, we mean processes. Everything from the efficiency of your fat loss capacity to your ability to generate new muscle tissue is going to be impacted by the presence of excess cortisol.
When is cortisol at its highest?
Our cortisol levels naturally increase in line with periods of physical and mental fatigue / tiredness or excessive daily “wear and tear” in relation to our bodies.
If you’ve been overdoing it at work, spending too much time in the gym (yes that is possible!) or not getting enough sleep; all of these elements and more are likely to spike your cortisol levels.
If you want to maximize your health and training results then you’ve got to ensure that you do everything you possibly can to keep cortisol in check by casting a watchful eye over these elements of your daily routine.
What happens when cortisol levels are elevated?
Simply put, you just don’t function as effectively as you should. All the aspects of your health and fitness that you’d like to run smoothly simply don’t operate in the fashion that would lead to optimum vitality and physical progression.
We are actually supposed to have a certain level of cortisol present at all times as breaking things down is a perfectly natural part of our every day functionality. For instance, to burn fat or consume energy, we actually need to break molecules down.
Equally, when we’re combating disease or getting rid of waste products, we need to break down toxins and other undesirable elements. Cortisol plays a crucial role in these aspects of our health, and as such, it really is a hugely important part of our day-to-day processes.
The problem arises when we produce too much cortisol, as this sends the “break down” aspects of our internal functionality into overdrive to the extent that we actually start to take away from the parts of our body that are “good.”
How to control cortisol
Whilst you don’t want to get rid of cortisol completely, it is absolutely vital that you control it in order to get the most out of your health and fitness.
Through a number of simple integrations to your daily routine, you will be able to ensure that your levels of cortisol don’t rise beyond the “normal” minimum level needed to provide optimal functionality.
Check out the following mental and physical elements you can incorporate into your structure in order to keep your cortisol levels in check.
Mindfulness and meditation have been proven to significantly reduce stress and cortisol levels in individuals. Scientists in the US have shown that an eight-week course of mindfulness, involving daily classes, can help lower inflammatory molecules and stress hormones by around 15 per cent. Meditation and mindfulness focus on stabilising your mind and thoughts. It allows you to mentally detach from stress. If you are interested in getting started but are too busy to attend clases, get our 2 week Meditation Course for Busy People in the Modern World (audio included).
Cardiovascular fitness and strength training are both excellent ways to combat cortisol. When you exercise your body releases the feel good hormones known as endorphins. These give you a natural high and leave you feeling happy and de-stressed subsequently removing the cortisol from your system.
Switch to a whole food, anti-inflammatory diet. Embarking upon an anti-inflammatory diet that is low in processed foods and high in antioxidants, fibre and essential nutrients is key to balancing hormones, controlling your cravings and getting you on the right track. Such tactics can also help with adrenal support, allowing you to reach and maintain a healthy weight; boosting energy during the day and helping you sleep better at night.
Getting 8 hours per night is one of the easiest ways to ensure that your cortisol levels are reduced. Let’s face it, everything feels a little easier when you’re well rested; that’s because all of your hormones are in balance and you’ve had chance to fully recover from the previous days activities. Sleeping “well” is also crucial; make sure you switch off from technology at least an hour before you sleep so that you’re able to benefit from some good quality deep sleep, which is crucial for total restoration.
The above tips when integrated into your weekly routine are absolutely sure to help reduce and stabilise your cortisol levels on a daily basis. Incorporate them today so that you can enjoy a stress free and healthy tomorrow.