Stop Stressing! How Cortisol Effects The Body

If you've ever gone through a rough period of time in your life, you probably noticed that you've put on some weight, even if you haven't been eating as much. Why? Medical scientists have found that the hormone cortisol thrives on stress, and, simply put, cortisol's main job is to eat away at your muscles. You can't stop cortisol from being released into the body. In fact, that would be unhealthy. However, there are certain measures a body builder can take to keep cortisol levels at a low healthy level.

Cortisol is released by the pituitary gland in the brain. It helps regulate your blood pressure, so when things such as a fight with your significant other or a hard day at work have got you steamed, cortisol is released in high levels to help keep you blood pressure down. Unfortunately, cortisol also breaks down muscle proteins and converts it into fat. Theoretically, if you are stressed out, the body is trying to help you. Breaking down muscle releases amino acids into the blood stream, which are in turn broken down to give you energy. However, if you are stressed over nothing, you don't really use this extra energy-you just lose muscle.

You can control cortisol simply by thinking happy thoughts. Remember that stress is not only mental, but physical as well. Therefore, if you overtrain, you are putting extra stress on your muscles and your body releases more cortisol, which is counterproductive to the exercise you are doing. Know your body's limits so you can prevent this from happening. It is rare that you body is producing too much cortisol for you to control, but medications have become a popular choice for people who blame cortisol on their weight gain and muscle loss. Before you resort to these supplements, try to control cortisol on your own. You body will be healthier if you don't have to pop pills.

Of course, sometimes stress cannot be avoided. In these situations, do not avoid eating. By snacking during the day, even if you are not hungry, you will provide your body with the extra energy it needs to be in a stressful situation. Cortisol will not excessively be released, since you already have a supply of energy. Practicing good eating and sleeping habits will also reduce your stress level in general, so stick to a healthy diet and get a good night's rest. If you are still worried about cortisol, have you doctor check out your cortisol levels to make sure you are healthy.

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