T Nation

Cortisol Control, Insulin and Workout GH Pulse

I’ve been reading CT’s articles about cortisol and was wondering:
If you take carbs pre and during workouts, to spike insulin and reduce the cortisol release, wouldn’t it affect the GH spike? Because every research that I’ve read say that insulin reduces GH release.

It does but so what? Anyway, normal GH release would be moderate. Lactate training does elicit more GH but again - to what real purpose? I know Poliquin claimed you could achieve crazy body comp on such protocols but, certainly longer term, gains would be modest.

I would argue the best way to take advantage of GH is to fast, which includes adhering to circadian rythmns and going to bed with lowered insulin levels to allow GH to naturally rise while asleep.

I’ve always wondered how this interplays with the suggestion of reserving carbs for the end of the day. This is something Coach talks about here

The other time where carbs are the most important is in the evening. It sounds counterintuitive, but to maximize recovery, growth, and quality of life it’s the best option. It’ll help you relax at the end of the day and lower cortisol levels.

I’ve slept great when I reserve 50g of carbs (low GI) to my pre-bed snack. Maybe its just a matter of tuning just how close to bedtime you have your final meal?

That is missing the forest or the trees and a misunderstanding of how insulin works.

First, you will no produce a lot of insulin with intra-workout carbs or even pre-workout carbs (within reason). Why? Insulin is NOT released because you are INGESTING carbs… it is released because blood sugar becomes elevated.

That’s a very important distinction because the carbs you ingest intra-workout will very likely be used for fuel before they elevate blood sugar too much.

FURTHERMORE there is such a thing as “non-insulin mediated glucose transport”. Meaning that you can take the glucose in the blood that elevates blood sugar level to the muscle without insulin. Muscle contractions can pull the blood sugar to the muscles that are contracting.

During your workout, blood sugar is lowered both by bringing the glucose to the muscles without the need for insulin and by using it for fuel. Therefore there is no need for a signficiant insulin release.

Even pre-workout carbs will pretty much be the same provided that they are not consumed too long before your session. See, insulin is NOT released when you eat the carbs… it is released when blood sugar/glucose becomes elevated. This takes a certain time after consumption of the carbs. I you take your carbs 10-15 min pre-workout you will likely not get a huge insulin release either.

As for eating carbs in the evening, lots of date shows that it does not interfere with the GH pulse that occurs when you fall asleep. This is a non-issue.


So even with a post-workout cheat o refeed meal, is it advisable to keep carbohydrates like Plazma pre and during training?

I would recommend it, yes

Coach, another carb-timing I’ve read from you is,

Breakfast: 15% (balanced in all macros, what purpose do they serve?)
Pre-workout: 30-35% (cell volumisation)
Intra-workout: 20-25%
Post-workout: 20-25% (replenish glycogen)

And see that these two can be combined by scheduling your workout at the tail-end of the day (not too late), say 17:00 so cortisol gets to go down before bed. If working out earlier in the day is the only option, would you take the 15% from breakfast and place it at the end of the day?

Note: am not dieting and training akin to your “100 pounds to my deadlift”-article

I always thought that the effect of peri workout carbs on cortisol was because of the insulin spike, so actually it’s because you have carbs available thus don’t need the cortisol to mobilize as much (or at all) to use as fuel plus the fact that you don’t need a lot of insulin to transport nutrients into the cells during your workouts. That’s good to know…