This Hormone Is Ruining Your Results

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This Hormone Is Ruining Your Results

Warning: If you're not paying attention to this one hormone, there is a good chance it's causing you to burn muscle and build fat.


You read that right. There's one hormone that is the antithesis of all things health and fitness.


This one hormone has the power to undermine all your efforts in your workouts and your nutrition if you're not careful.


And here's the thing...


It's addictive...


It's deceptive...


And it's excellent at making you fatter, weaker, and less happy.


What hormone am I talking about?


I'm talking about cortisol.


You've probably heard of it. It's most commonly known as the "stress hormone." And that's a pretty good description.


But to truly understand why this stress hormone is so damaging to your health and fitness, you have to understand one critical thing first.


Hormones are the decision-makers in your body.

You can eat healthily, and your body can turn that food into muscle...


Or it can turn it into fat. 


Your body makes that decision based on...


You guessed it, hormones.


Hormones are the 'decision makers' in your body. 


Every time I hear someone say, "maybe it's my hormones," my first thought goes to their cortisol levels.


You can think of cortisol as the anti-testosterone.


You probably know that testosterone causes your body to burn fat and build muscle.


Simply put, testosterone is good, and cortisol is not. (This is a bit over-generalized, but you get the idea)


In fact, cortisol suppresses testosterone.


Put another way, cortisol suppresses your ability to burn fat and build muscle.


But it actually gets worse because cortisol also causes your body to build fat and burn muscle. 


And to make matters even worse than that, according to Mayo Clinic, chronically elevated cortisol has been linked with a whole host of other problems as well.


Problems like:


  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Digestive problems
  • Headaches
  • Heart disease
  • Sleep problems
  • Weight gain
  • Memory and concentration impairment

And that's just scratching the surface. 


By now, you're starting to see why cortisol is so damaging to your health and fitness goals. 


Like I said before, cortisol makes you fatter, weaker, and less happy.


So What Causes Your Elevated Cortisol?




That's it.


Every type of stress you can think of elevates cortisol.


  • Mental/Emotional stress - Work problems, relationship problems, etc.
  • Physical stress - Exercise, injury, pain, lack of sleep, etc.
  • Nutritional stress - Poor diet, alcohol, etc.

A little stress is good for you, but chronically elevated stress levels really start to create a severe problem.


Remember, cortisol and causes you to build fat, muscle and be less happy in general.


How Do You Deal With Chronic Stress?


You might be thinking, I need to eliminate all this stress in my life!


But let's be real, that's impossible. It's just not going to happen.


Plus, stress challenges you to grow and improve, so eliminating stress wouldn't be a great idea anyway.


The key is not to eliminate stress. It's to learn how to manage it effectively.


So here are a few simple things that I do and that I recommend to all my clients.


  1. Create a daily mindfulness practice: Sometimes, just being aware of your stress, paying attention to how you feel, can have massive benefits at bringing down your cortisol levels. And you can do it in only 10 minutes a day. I recommend apps like "Headspace" or "Waking Up" to get you started.
  2. Journal: You don't have to write anything in particular. The goal is to get all the thoughts and ideas out of your head and onto paper. This has a measurable and noticeable impact on your stress levels. You can write a lot or a little. It doesn't matter. The important thing is that you get all that junk spinning in your head organized onto the page.
  3. Clean Up Your Diet/Drink Water: A poor diet creates massive stress and inflammation in your body which throws your hormones out of whack. Try to pick out real food, like vegetables, eggs, etc. And avoid processed and/or sugary foods. If you want more support with your nutrition, reach out to us to learn more about our nutrition coaching program.
  4. Exercise Appropriately To Your Stress Levels: Many of us think that we need to "kill it" every time we go to the gym. But here's the problem, if your body has high levels of stress, doing a hardcore workout will only stress your body even further. This means, say it with me... you're going to burn muscle and build fat. Instead, turn your workout into an opportunity to destress. Play and have fun in your training, and avoid "killing it" at all costs on high-stress days.
  5. Get Enough Sleep: This one can be tough. Trust me, I know as well as anyone. Poor sleep is one of the best ways to ensure your body is under chronic stress. But it actually gets worse. A bad night's sleep tonight doesn't just add stress tomorrow. It compounds your stress because you didn't get to recover from today. This means your stress from today carries's over to tomorrow. AND causes more stress tomorrow. Get sleep.

A Scientific Way To Measure Stress

If you're like me and you like things to be more objective than subjective, then I have good news for you. You can get an extremely accurate measure of your body's stress using Heart Rate Variability (HRV).


HRV is what NASA uses to measure the stress on astronauts during training and in space. I'll save the details and science for a future blog. 


For now, all you need to do is download the app Welltory, and it will give you all the information you need on how it works and how to use it. 


Bottom Line

If you're putting in the work but find yourself in a continual plateau. There's a good chance the stressors in your life and lifestyle are causing your body to burn muscle and build fat instead of burn fat and build muscle.


You can use HRV to get a scientific measure and then adapt your day to your body's needs using any of the suggestions I gave above. A little bit of self-care to destress can go a long way toward making you happier and healthier. 


Which is something you both need and deserve, right?



Prefer Podcasts? Check out Justin's "The Fitness Formula" anywhere you listen to Podcasts:



About the Author




Justin Lewis is the Owner and Co-Founder of ProCore Fitness in Southlake. Justin has spent almost 15 years working with everyone from superstar athletes to hard-working parents and professionals. He has spent his career searching for the most efficient and effective fitness and performance strategies in the world and continues to innovate to this day. Justin is actively engaged in the Southlake community and sits as the Chairman of the Board for the Southlake Chamber Of Commerce. 

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