Do you struggle with weight/fat loss?
Do you struggle with daily energy and/or workout performance?
Cortisol, the most prominent fight or flight hormone is secreted by the adrenal glands in response to environmental stimulation perceived by the brain. One of the stresses is low blood sugar, a fundamental problem for people who are not fat/keto adapted. When you sugar crash, the brain frantically tells the adrenals too secrete cortisol, which prompts the conversion of lean muscle tissue into glucose to keep you humming along until you find some carbs to slam down. Cortisol’s prominent role in regulating blood sugar is just one of its many critical functions. It influences a full 20% of the human genome, including profoundly impacted immune function, inflammatory processes, metabolism, and cognitive function. Optimal cortisol production helps to optimise all of the aforementioned mechanisms. However, when you chronically over produce cortisol due to incessant high levels of stress, including sugar crash urgencies, chronic training patterns, insufficient sleep, hectic daily schedules, or difficult personal or work relationships, you are headed toward the uniquely modern affliction of burnout. Having so abused your delicate and powerful fight or flight mechanisms, your adrenal glands are no longer able to keep up with your bare minimum energy and metabolic requirements.
When the fight or flight response wears out, you feel exhausted waking up, have difficulty controlling blood sugar, mood, and energy levels throughout the day, experience drastically diminished workout performance and immune function, suffer from systemwide inflammation, have diminished cognitive function and elevated risk of cognitive decline, have dysregulated appetite and fat storage hormones, and display are generally very poor tolerance for all forms of life stress.
You go from wired for weeks or months on a tenuous cortisol high to fried, often in a disturbingly abrupt manner. Burnout is a bummer when you were trying to shake a lingering illness or improve your performance as an athlete, but it’s also a fundamental driver of accelerated ageing in general in today’s overstressed, carbohydrate dependent society.
When you become fat/keto adapted, the stress of having to constantly balance blood sugar goes away. Then, you can optimise your production of cortisol to support stable energy levels and have a ready reserve of cortisol for those brief fight or flight peak performance efforts that your jeans are designed to deliver.
The snippet above is from The Keto Reset Diet book by Mark Sisson.
Now let me be clear the Keto diet is not always recommended by myself to everyone and has very specific applications for whom it would benefit. As always when it comes to nutrition you need a tailored approach (which is where we come in).
If you are looking to lose weight, increase training performance or have better daily energy it is important to understand why chronically trying to train more, eat less and the dogma of “no pain, no gain” is a flawed way of looking at these specific improvements.
Just as Mark so elegantly put it together above your fight or flight response is something that should not be triggered constantly. This is something that I didn’t understand for a long time, the way you train and what you eat plays a vital role in how much cortisol is produced and what your body is doing with the energy you have, both internal energy and dietary sources of energy.
If you are looking at long term body composition changes or sustainable fitness improvements, making sure that you have a healthy balance between the stress and rest is a key element to seeing these results. If your body has an inability to effectively burn fat, the likelihood of your busy life is going to quickly get the better of you. So without changing your busy life as this is almost impossible, adjusting your sleep, nutrition and training so that it supports the burning of fat will really produce amazing results when it comes to daily energy, fat burning and training performance.
What are your thoughts and experience on this? Comment below.