The Cortisol Connection: Can You Be Too Stressed to Make Progress?

April 21, 2022 by
Photo Credit: CrossFit LLC

Let’s talk about cortisol. While we have discussed cortisol in the context of competing and training, we have not discussed it in the context of fat loss.

Cortisol is a key hormone in the human body, and it controls our response to stress. It is the subject of immense fascination, discussion, and confusion within the fitness and nutrition industry. It is a steroid hormone that is produced by the adrenal glands located on top of the kidneys. It is loosely correlated to our circadian rhythm, but outside stressors like exercise, fasting, waking, work and relationship stress also cause us to release cortisol.

When you want to run fast, lift heavy, flight or flee - high cortisol is a good thing.

Even in times of low stress, your body will produce cortisol to help with energy regulation and substrate mobilization. In times of high stress, cortisol helps your body become more efficient at accessing and producing glucose from protein (muscle). It also mobilizes fat stores and helps fat cells produce energy.

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