Stress is one of the most devious things that we as human beings can encounter.
Not only is stress linked to depression, mood swings and anxiety, but studies show that it leads to increased fat levels.
Stress stimulates production of the hormone cortisol, which is linked to muscle breakdown and increased fat accumulation, especially in the belly. In fact, men with more belly fat stimulate more cortisol production.
Cortisol is a hormone that is produced within the adrenal gland. Cortisol is stimulated as a result of stress, both physiologically and metabolically. Metabolic stress is caused as a result of vigorous physical exercise. Physiological stress is caused by over-working, having too much on your plate, and so on.
Decreasing your cortisol levels is also advantageous for insulin sensitivity and a healthy intestinal tract. Cortisol creates a lack of sensitivity to insulin. Insensitivity to insulin allows blood glucose levels to be unregulated, if you will, and as a result more fat will be stored.
Cortisol also leads to gastrointestinal tract (GI) inflammation. GI inflammation results in diarrhea, ulcers, abdominal pains and so much more. GI inflammation also leads to decreased neurotransmitter efficiency within the GI tract that leaves you feeling sluggish, depressed and suffering from anxiety. Now that we understand the dangers of stress, let’s learn how to avoid them.
Metabolic stress has both pros and cons. Working out with proper movements and exercises causes stress to increase metabolically. This form of metabolic stress is necessary for lean muscle growth or whole protein synthesis. As a result, body fat levels will be reduced. Decrease cortisol levels post-workout by supplementing with whey protein. This will stimulate insulin sensitivity within the body and send vital Essential Amino Acids (EAA) into the damaged muscles.
A second effective method for decreasing cortisol is supplementing with vitamin C. You can supplement with any pure form of vitamin C post-workout or get it through whole food ingestion. Roughly 2-8 grams post-workout is suggested. Choosing fruits like acerola cherries, grape fruit, or oranges could be a great alternative to supplementation with a pill.
Physiological stress is a harder form of stress to prevent. My number one suggestion for this is to get a hobby that is relaxing. For me, it is cooking or reading research on nutrition and health. For others relaxing may be reading, talking, watching TV, yoga, or anything else that takes their mind off of the reason they are stressed in the first place. Regardless of your hobby and/or situation, removing as much stress out of your life as possible is one sure way to decrease cortisol production.
Quick note: subcutaneous fat is not related to cortisol levels. This is the fat that is directly under the skin. The way to decrease this fat is through physical exercise and proper nutrition. However, visceral belly fat is related to cortisol levels. This fat is the most deadly.