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Does the Insulin Release from Peri-Workout Nutrition Mess with Cortisol?

Hello world,

So I read this article like five times already: https://www.t-nation.com/diet-fat-loss/two-faces-of-cortisol

It clearly states (as it actually is) that when cortisol and insulin are both in the blood stream, you’re pretty much fucked. No more fat burning, glucose turns to fat, etc. So basically insulin acts like a power-kick to cortisol catabolic powers.

I’ve started my peri-workout nutrition and I’m takin in about 40g of carbs and 25 g of protein (from which 5g is BCAAs, 3g is Leucine (for mTOR activation)).

The question is: Does the insulin release from that peri-workout nutrition have the same effect on cortisol? As in helps the fucker fuck up things?

Sometimes it seems like a legit question. Sometimes it sounds dumb to me. Haven’t found much on the subject. If someone could light my brain regarding this matter, I’ll owe you one.


Periworkout carbs are actually good at stopping the cortisol spike from working out. CT’s written on the subject and actually gives a lot of tips on how to keep cortisol down

Where is that bloody article? Please!

It’s been brought up in his coaching section of the forums. I’ll see if I can find it when I get a chance. He also talks about it on his own website, Thibarmy

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Thank you very much. I’ve found some other articles as well. If you have the chance to find that article, I would be in debt.

It seems that high insulin during workouts overtakes the catabolic effect of cortisol. Still, I’ll search for the science. Thanks buddy!

Cortisol is a stress hormone. When you put stress on your body it releases cortisol. Training for a long time is more stressful than short workouts and releases more cortisol. Training with no nutrition is more stressful on your body then training while properly nourished and releases more cortisol.

Edit: stress outside of working out spikes cortisol. Not eating enough, not sleeping enough, working too much are all things that raise cortisol

Cortisol release during training is largely triggered by depletion of glycogen from muscles and liver! (Also from stimulants, and adrenaline released from over-psyching up).

Cortisol goes up after about 1 hour of activity, even walking as the percentage of calories burned from carbs goes up due to the fact that intra and extra muscular fatty acids gets depleted and can’t provide enough energy for higher work output anymore.

Basically, cortisol release during training is tied DIRECTLY to how fast your body is running out of glycogen. The purpose of the cortisol is to break down protein to produce supplemental glucose so the way to block it is to avoid getting into a glycogen deficient state again related to intensity and volume of training.

At about +3 mets (300-450 cals an hour for 200 pound man) you only burn about 30% carbs and 70% fat because fat can replenish ATP fast enough to keep going. You will burn up about 30 grams of glycogen an hour, but eventually your body will have to release cortisol to turn protein into glucose. A 200 pound man will have about 500 grams of stored glycogen.

At about 6-7 mets which would be a pretty intense weight training routine, you burn about 50% fat and 50% glucose at around 700-900 calories an hour (200 pound male). Now instead of burning up about 25 grams of glucose an hour you are burning bout 100 grams of glucose an hour because fatty acids can only provide a baseline of about 300 calories an hour of energy continuously. So doubling your intensity will increase glucose depletion 300-400%

At 9-10 mets you now burn maybe 1000-1200 cals an hour, but pretty much ALL of the extra energy is coming from glucose now, about 200 grams an hour.

The only way to provide more glucose besides eating it is to break down muscle with cortisol.
The only way to provide more glucose besides eating it is to break down muscle with cortisol.

(or circulating amino acids which won’t last long).

So the key is to eat enough carbs to prevent glycogen depletion.

Note that low intensity activity like walking will burn 70% fat and so is much likely to deplete glycogen and turn on cortisol.

So is shorter training at moderate levels.

One critical issue with drug free lifters is that cortisol, adrenaline, glucagon, testosterone and growth hormone (the counter insulin hormones) all rise during training, but testosterone and GH peter out at about 1 hour of hard training, at that point, cortisol (and to a lesser extent adrenaline) rise even higher.

By the way, all of those counter-regulatory hormones, but particularly cortisol and adrenaline make you more insulin resistant, so letting your cortisol go high because you get glycogen depleted will make your body release MORE insulin to manage your basal insulin needs as well as carbs consumed in a high cortisol state.

Training makes you more insulin sensitive unless you get to that point where cortisol and or adrenaline have to spike to keep you going. Again, this typically happens when you start to outrun your glycogen reserves. Also lifts over 90%, stimulants, and overpsyching for sets. It is a main reason why the russians beleived in staying under 90% of competition maxes in training, and also why Louie Simmons claims that you should not psych up for max effort lifts, because the adrenaline release is catabolic.

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so will intra carbs or BCAA’s intra also help on cortisol?

Yes, intra workout carbs will prevent the body from having to break down protein (via cortisol) to supplement glucose needs which rise with intensity and duration. BCAA’s are anabolic signals but they also help muscle cells use carbs more efficiently so they may help blunt cortisol.

Also, circulating AAs (primarily glutamine) will get turned into glucose, facilited by the hormone glucagon with less need for cortisol to rip AAs out of cells. Glucagon will still start to cause insulin resistance (acute), so point being that if you are significantly turning AAs into glucose, the best you get from added AAs is anticatabolism-blocking muscle breakdown.

Low carb dieters store more fatty acids in their muscle cells for use as immediate fuel, and have more enzymes for beta oxidation of fatty acids. This means that low carb dieters will turn to carbs later and to a lesser extent as workload increases and progresses, but it can not make up for lack of carbs. A low carb dieter might be able to derive 300-400 kcal an hour from fatty acids MAXIMUM while a high carb dieter may derive 200-300 kcal an hour from beta oxidation of fatty acids, so being an efficient fat burner can only hold of the need for cortisol a little bit. The trade off for low carb dieters is that their muscle cells store less glycogen and have less enzymes for burning glucose.

Being “fit” in the lactic acid zone can also stave off cortisol as the body becomes much more efficient at using lactate and pyruvate as supplimental energy sources. HIIT turns on dozens of genes which largely improve the body’s ability to use lactate and pyruvate.

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Wow thx for taking your time man!

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Nice post… can i ask where you source your info from?

Well, fuck. Thank you very much! I wasn’t expecting such good anwsers.
Now it all makes sence, though.

Some of my workouts are about 80 minutes or so. I have started peri workout nutrition just because of this reason and it seems it was the way to go.

Again, thank you! You guys are awesome!

There are about 15 different physiological facts that I presented in the posts which are each coming from different sets of sources. You need to be more specific. Is there part of my post that you want me to dig up some primary sources from?

Which info? There are dozens of pieces of info from dozens of sources in that post.