Cortisol has been a bit of a mystery to me. Things I’ve gathered about cortisol include:
- Cortisol is a hormone
- Cortisol is elevated by exercising
- Cortisol is elevated by drinking alcohol
- The presence of cortisol spurs weight gain, and specifically, fat accumulation in the gut for men
- Cortisol can impair the immune system
- Vitamin C before bed (And getting plenty of sleep) can reduce cortisol (See Robb Wolf’s comments on this post)
Some reading on cortisol from the usual suspects:
- Mark Sisson: How Stress Can Make You Fat — The Definitive Guide to Stress, Cortisol, and the Adrenals: When ?Fight or Flight? Meets the Modern World
- Robb Wolf: Exercise: Ineffective for Weight Loss — Robb speaks specifically to those CrossFitters who are also training for endurance-type events.
- Arthur Devany: Mass – Here Art says something about weight lifting for more than 30 minutes at a high pace will elevate cortisol levels.
- Lyle McDonald: How Many Carbohydrates Do You Need – “As few as 15 grams of carbohydrates per day has been shown to limit nitrogen loss and 50 grams of carbohydrate per day severely limits the need for the body to use amino acids for gluoconeogenesis. Not only will it maintain blood glucose and insulin at a slightly higher level (thus inhibiting cortisol release)”
There’s a lot of information out there on the subject of cortisol. As someone who is exercising and periodically imbibing alcohol, how should I deal with cortisol to mitigate its detrimental effects on my goals?
And what is overexercising anyway? What is over-training? If you tack on some low to medium intensity cardiovascular exercise to weight lifting / high-intensity exercise, do you cross the line between “just right” and “too much”? I have no doubt that the answers to these questions are case-specific.
What is a good mix of exercise for a relatively sedentary web entrepreneur?