Fight Anxiety and Abdominal Fat
One supplement can help you reduce stress and control excess cortisol, making it easier to sleep, lose fat, and build muscle.
Most people who want to reduce stress are worried about cortisol. But remember, cortisol is essential to human life. By raising blood glucose levels, cortisol provides the resources to combat stress from illness, trauma, fright, and infection.
Cortisol deserves a high-five, but it’s a situational ally. There are times when you want higher cortisol levels in your bloodstream and times when you don’t. When it gets out of hand, cortisol negatively affects growth hormone and testosterone output. It can also reduce muscle growth and increase abdominal fat.
Luckily, there’s an easy way to thwart high cortisol levels: fish oil.
Cortisol levels are highest in the morning and generally taper off throughout the day. That’s all good, provided the levels are within normal, healthy ranges.
However, cortisol spikes during and after a ball-busting workout. You’d prefer that it didn’t happen because it can negatively affect muscle protein synthesis. And sometimes, because of physical overtraining or mental stress, cortisol levels can remain perpetually elevated throughout the day and night. You definitely don’t want that.
Sure, post-workout spikes of cortisol are controlled by proper peri-workout nutrition, but sometimes, particularly during bouts of particularly heavy or intense training, your body needs some extra help. A modest amount of fish oil beats down excess cortisol, particularly if taken at bedtime.
Researchers recruited 31 alcoholics to see if fish oil could lower cortisol levels. When alcoholics stop drinking, their cortisol rises, adding to their feelings of stress and anxiety, making it harder to stop drinking.
Ten were given a placebo, and 21 were given a 1,000 mg. capsule of fish oil containing a paltry 252 mg. of DHA and 60 mg. of EPA. The researchers monitored the subjects’ saliva cortisol concentrations for 24-hour periods on the first and last days of the study. While the placebo had no effect, the fish oil group had much lower cortisol levels throughout the day. They also reported less stress.
Granted, these effects were seen in alcoholics, but the cortisol-lowering effects of fish oil are no different in non-alcoholics. Note, too, the amounts of omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) used in this study are much lower than those found in superior fish oils like Flameout.
Taking fish oil at dinner or even bedtime is best if you need to reduce nighttime levels of cortisol to help you sleep.
This nighttime fish oil protocol also helps during times of overtraining. It tempers the highest-of-the-day morning cortisol spike so it doesn’t hamper muscle protein synthesis or sacrifice muscle tissue to raise glucose levels.
Take all your fish oil capsules at night or some during the day and at least one at bedtime. Make sure your fish oil contains the most potent and purest DHA and EPA triglycerides. Flameout has double or triple the potency of most fish oil.
- Barbadoro P et al. Fish oil supplementation reduces cortisol basal levels and perceived stress: A randomized, placebo-controlled trial in abstinent alcoholics. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2013 Jun;57(6):1110-4. PubMed.