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What is cortisol?

From: SHA Wellness Clinic.


When you go through hormonal changes, it comprises a series of sudden and unexpected variations in your weight or in your mood, sometimes even leading to depression.

Cortisol is also called ‘the stress hormone’ and when you have high levels of this hormone, it brings a series of negative effects alongside.

What is cortisol?

It’s a hormone that raises blood sugar levels and meets the demand of glucocorticoids.  It’s stored in the outer layer of the adrenal gland and is liberated then the brain notices low levels of glucocorticoids or of sugar in your blood.

It’s not only produced in stress situations, but also when there’s a very demanding physical activity or when there’s a poor diet.

How does it work?

When a person is constantly under the effects of this hormone, they can suffer from chronic stress.

In fact, when cortisol levels go up, it destroys tissues.  This makes your body use glucose and amino acids that make up your muscles.

Does this have negative effects?

Tissues are destroyed when cortisol levels rise. If these levels persevere in time, they produce constant stress.  Some changes have a direct contribution to the impairment of metabolism or at times you will simply be more irritable.

How is cortisol detected? How can one lower its levels?

You can detect this hormone though blood, urine or saliva tests.

Regarding nutrition to control cortisol levels, it is advisable to eat green vegetables, ground flaxseed, nuts and citrus fruit. Decreasing the intake of caffeine also affects this hormone’s levels. Then you have relaxing and sound sleep, your cortisol levels will also dwindle.

Maintaining enough water intake to keep well hydrated is vital. In addition, drinking a glass of water before going to bed and one just as you wake up will help you to keep your cortisol levels at bay.

It is very important to do exercise on a regular basis.

How are cortisol levels affected by taking supplements while training?

It has been proven that taking between 5 and 10 grams of Branched-Chain Amino Acids (called BCAA) in combination with simple carbohydrates, this hormone’s levels are reduced.

This is because cortisol is secreted to give you an extra burst of energy. If we have glucose and the needed amino acids in our blood, this hormone won’t be produced.


Cortisol is the immediate response or your body to stress situations. In the short term, this hormone is in charge of destroying muscle tissue and in the long run this has adverse effects on the metabolism, and it’s also responsible for fat accumulation in problem areas depending on the gender. Adding to this, it can also cause chronic stress.



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