Cortisol: The Stress Hormone That’s Destroying Your Muscle Gains

You’re doing everything right. You’re exercising, eating well, and getting plenty of sleep. And yet your muscles still won’t grow. This isn’t uncommon among fitness enthusiasts, but one thing many don’t realize is that the hormone cortisol may be the culprit behind the lack of progress in the gym. This hormone, secreted by the adrenal glands (small organs located near your kidneys), puts your body into what’s known as fight-or-flight mode when it senses stress.


We all know that in order to build muscle, we need to lift weights and eat a protein-rich diet. But there’s another factor that can impact our muscle growth: stress. When we’re stressed, our bodies release the hormone cortisol, which can break down muscle tissue. So if you’re struggling to build muscle, it could be because your stress levels are too high.

What is cortisol?

Cortisol is a stress hormone that’s released by the adrenal glands in response to stress. When cortisol levels are high, it can lead to a decrease in muscle mass. Cortisol also inhibits the release of growth hormone, which is necessary for muscle growth. In addition, cortisol increases insulin resistance, which can lead to fat gain. High levels of cortisol can also lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.

How does cortisol affect muscles and muscle growth?

Cortisol is a stress hormone that is released by the adrenal glands in response to stress. When cortisol levels are high, it can have a negative impact on muscle growth. Cortisol can break down muscle tissue and reduce protein synthesis, which is necessary for muscle growth. Cortisol also increases inflammation, which can lead to muscle soreness and injury. In addition, cortisol can increase fat storage and decrease glucose tolerance, which can lead to weight gain.

How to control cortisol levels in the body

If you’re looking to control your cortisol levels, there are a few things you can do. First, try to get enough sleep. Studies have shown that lack of sleep can increase cortisol levels. Second, exercise regularly. Exercise has been shown to lower cortisol levels. Third, eat a healthy diet. Eating unhealthy foods can raise cortisol levels. Fourth, avoid stress. Stress can also raise cortisol levels. Fifth, take supplements. There are many supplements that can help lower cortisol levels. Sixth, get regular checkups. Having regular checkups with your doctor can help identify any problems early on. Seventh, stay hydrated. Drinking plenty of water helps keep your body functioning properly and can lower cortisol levels.

Natural ways to reduce cortisol

If you’re looking to reduce your cortisol levels, there are a few natural ways to do so. First, try incorporating some stress-relieving activities into your daily routine, such as yoga or meditation. Secondly, make sure you’re getting enough sleep each night; cortisol levels are highest in the morning and tend to decrease throughout the day. Thirdly, try to avoid processed foods and eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, which contain antioxidants that can help reduce stress. Fourth, exercise regularly; not only does this help reduce stress hormones, but it also releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects. Finally, try supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to help reduce cortisol levels.


If you’re lifting weights and not seeing the results you want, it could be because of high levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Cortisol can break down muscle tissue, so if you’re constantly stressed, your muscles won’t have a chance to grow. To avoid this, make sure to get enough rest and relaxation. Cortisol levels are also highest in the morning, so working out later in the day may be more effective.

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