I exercise a lot and I think eat right…why can’t I achieve “the look” part 1

Okay, for those of you who are regular readers of my blog know I have ADHD. For those of you just joining, you now know I have….SQUIRREL/SOMETHING SHINY/TEXT MESSAGE…. My ADHD will MOST CERTAINLY be apparent in this series. Academics, and any decent writer for that matter, would suggest I serve this information like a meal: Appetizer and Drinks -> Salad/Soup->Main Entrée -> Dessert ……. FACT: 10 course meal was served to those on the ill-fated HMS Titanic. Maybe food focus is why the engineers designed the Titanic like an easy-to-fill ice cube tray which lead to the ships demise?  NEVERTHELESS, this is MY blog and I will serve the meal HOW I choose.

Preface: In regard to the SCIENCE of this little series, I WILL NOT BE CONTRIBUTING ANYTHING ORIGINAL. Frankly, the meat of this little series will be verbatim from select/reputable sources from the “web”.  I will be adding a quip, a metaphor, a laymen’s explanation, and maybe a bit of media.

Chemistry, most of us slept through it OR remembered it just long enough to wipe the sweat from the brow and move onto the next course on the road to graduation. THANKFULLY, NERDS are real! NERDS exist in ALL FIELDS! NERDS observed, recorded, and explained the information AND THEN mediators have stepped in (HALF NERD/HALF MORTAL type) TOOK the NERD spew and made it palatable for the rest of us….. baby-birded .  In regard to health/wellness/fitness, most of us left the nest before we received proper gullet regurg.  Because we are educationally malnourished, we flock to any Dr. OZ post/BIGGEST Loser trend/Fad diet/Fountain of youth supplement. Sheep don’t eat meat and Lions don’t order a salad. Fortunately for them, diet is hardwired in their brains and if they don’t move they die. Unlike lions and sheep, we have to reason & decide what we consume and how we exercise–EVERYDAY.

Alas, the meat of the first article is brought to us by Eric Cressey, internationally renowned fitness/performance expert and knowledge gathering NERD. This is a slice off the prime-rib main course in Cressey’s article, Understanding Insulin.

Cortisol opposes insulin action in several regards. This glucocorticoid is likely most well known for its catabolic properties, which include stimulation of lipolysis in adipose tissue, protein degradation (the hormone also inhibits protein synthesis), and hepatic gluconeogenesis (32-35). Additionally, in terms of insulin resistance, cortisol not only directly inhibits glucose entry to cells, but also delays insulin action via a post-insulin receptor block (33,36)……….

……Cortisol increases in response to exercise are related to intensity and duration. A study by Davies and Few (1973) demonstrated the presence of an intensity threshold that must be reached for cortisol increases to occur. In separate exercise sessions, subjects were tested for 60 minutes at 40%, 60%, 80%, and 100% VO2max. Plasma cortisol actually decreased at 40% VO2max over the course of the test, whereas cortisol increased whenever the intensity exceeded 60% VO2max (33). Apparently, light exercise facilitates plasma cortisol removal to the point that it exceeds secretion by the adrenal cortex in response to exercise. At greater intensities, secretion predominated over removal, which had increased even more (33). There also appears to be a duration threshold; Bonen (1973) observed that urinary excretion of cortisol did not change with 10 minutes of exercise at 76% VO2max. However, when the duration increased to 30 minutes, this excretion value doubled (53), likely due to a lag time in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis between ACTH and cortisol secretion (54).

……..It is important to also note that glucagon, growth hormone, cortisol, and the catecholamines have effects that extend beyond plasma glucose regulation. All five hormones promote lipolysis, and thus serve as powerful regulators of fat metabolism (which is also dependent on insulin-related lipogenesis). This increased lipolysis favors the increased reliance on free fatty acids with longer durations, lower intensities, and situations of muscle glycogen depletion (79-82). Likewise, some of these hormones – glucagon, the catecholamines, and most notably, cortisol – continue to oppose insulin in protein metabolism by promoting proteolysis and inhibiting protein synthesis. Meanwhile, growth hormone works synergistically with insulin (and amino acids) to achieve an anabolic effect of elevated protein synthesis and decreased protein breakdown.

Doesn’t that taste great….mmmmmmmm. Now, an exaggerated (more accurate than not) photo explanation:

Usain Bolt defeated Captain CortisolYou can run from lots of things but you can't distance yourself from "bye-bye" arms.

Layman’s terms: YOU HAVE TO HIT THE WEIGHTS, (read in Mr. T tone) DECREASE THE DISTANCE AND INCREASE THE RESISTANCE, foo’! Yeah, you can lose weight running and improve your heart health, both great and better than nothing. I’m not saying to eliminate cardio either. I’m saying if you cannot practice moderation or you are dissatisfied with your “look” CHOOSE resistance OVER distance if you are trying to harden/tone/rip/jack/firm-up/lift/shift/define YOUR body. If you can’t ditch the distance try decreasing the intensity OR increasing intensity and decreasing time. Bodybuildersshapers (in case the term bodybuilder scares you)  have used Low Intensity Steady State cardio & High Intensity Interval Training for years to assist in the shaping process.

Bottom line: To get the look, accept the chemistry, shift your paradigm.



32. Divertie GD, Jensen MD, Miles JM. Stimulation of lipolysis in humans by physiological hypercortisolemia. Diabetes. 1991 Oct;40(10):1228-32.

33. Powers, SK, Howley, ET. Exercise physiology, 4th edition. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2001.

34. Brillon DJ, Zheng B, Campbell RG, Matthews DE. Effect of cortisol on energy expenditure and amino acid metabolism in humans. Am J Physiol. 1995 Mar;268(3 Pt 1):E501-13.

35. Simmons PS, Miles JM, Gerich JE, Haymond MW. Increased proteolysis. An effect of increases in plasma cortisol within the physiologic range. J Clin Invest. 1984 Feb;73(2):412-20.

36. Rizza RA, Mandarino LJ, Gerich JE. Cortisol-induced insulin resistance in man: impaired suppression of glucose production and stimulation of glucose utilization due to a postreceptor detect of insulin action. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1982 Jan;54(1):131-8.

53. Bonen A. Effects of exercise on excretion rates of urinary free cortisol. J Appl Physiol. 1976 Feb;40(2):155-8.

54. Rasmuson S, Olsson T, Hagg E. A low dose ACTH test to assess the function of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 1996 Feb;44(2):151-6.

One response to “I exercise a lot and I think eat right…why can’t I achieve “the look” part 1

  1. Pingback: Les protéines sous forme d’acides aminés sont à consommer au quotidien pour un bon métabolisme. Tester le quinoa ou Maï SALAÜN « Maï Savoir Is Riche

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