Carbs Plus Stress Increases Estrogen

If you are a person who wants to attain a leaner, more define physique, than you need to take action to lower cortisol levels and lower your carbohydrate consumption.

                     … And here is why 

There was a fascinating study performed by researchers from the University of Birmingham that examined Glucocorticoid (cortisol) & insulin regulation and how it affects aromatase activity in human adipose tissue, revealing different outcomes in men and women.

In this study, researchers wanted to examine insulin & cortisol’s role in potentiating aromatase activity in men and women by taking samples of subcutaneous and omental (visceral) adipose tissue for rigorous testing.

The research candidates were premenopausal women (7) and postmenopausal women (10) and 9 men.  The researchers found that the male candidate’s basal aromatase activity was significantly higher in the subcutaneous tissues opposed to omental (visceral) tissue with cortisol + insulin present. Insulin appeared to exacerbate cortisol’s effect in promoting aromatase activity.

The female test subjects had similar results as the males, but even more aromatase activity with insulin + cortisol present. This small piece of the study reveals that subcutaneous adipose tissue has a much greater affinity for aromatase activity than omental (visceral) fat in both genders.

When they examined the differences between pre & postmenopausal women and their reaction to insulin + cortisol the results revealed that postmenopausal women had high aromatase in the omental (visceral) tissues than premenopausal women. However both pre & postmenopausal women revealed the same response to aromatase activity in the subcutaneous tissues.

Sex steroids such as Dhea, Androstenedione, Estrone, Testosterone etc… may regulate adipose mass by increasing preadipocyte proliferation, differentiation, and adipocyte size through effects on lipolysis (fat-loss) and lipogenesis (fat accrural).

Insulin plays a crucial role in adipocyte proliferation and differentiation, however in this study, insulin ALONE has no effect on aromatase expression, whereas insulin + cortisol demonstrated an additive effect on aromatase activity.

You know what that means for most people who utilize high carbohydrate diet’s to either keep dietary fat low or to gain weight?

It means that relatively high doses of insulin (think dextrose & white rice) in combination with cortisol (think low blood sugar from spiked insulin) increases aromatase activity, which promotes estrogen levels in excess.

This is extremely undesirable for favorable body composition as this phenomenon will promote proliferation and differentiation of preadipocytes, enhancing central adiposity (fat mass accrural).

  Now what you should do

I hope after reading this article you recognize that ingesting copious amounts of carbohydrates in your plight for ultimate muscle mass or general health (because you still abide by the USDA outdated food pyramid which is simply asinine) you understand that manipulating your insulin and cortisol levels through meticulous nutrition planning will be in your best interests.

I am NOT telling you to switch to an Atkins or Ketogenic Diet by any means, simply just to pay attention to your carbohydrate choices (high glycemic VS low glycemic) and also your glycemic loads (grams of carbs per meal). If you absolutely insist you MUST incorporate carbohydrates around the clock with each meal, make sure to keep the gram allotment low, at around 20-30 grams per meal, as this keeps the glycemic load under control. Also, employ high glycemic carbs ONLY around your weight training or high activity event. The remainder of your carbs (if you insist you need them) should be low glycemic.

I would suggest you to just use carbohydrates INFREQUENTLY, meaning pre & post training, while the rest of your meals consist of top quality protein sources and raw, undenatured fats.

Incorporating a supplement that increases growth hormone production while lowering the stress hormone cortisol would be beneficial for those striving to get as lean as possible while dieting for fat-loss or gaining mass while keeping body fat lower.

Look no further than Primordial’s EndoAmp Max, which will do just that – Increase GH & lower cortisol, while enhancing mental acuity and focus.

  Helpful tips to lower cortisol & insulin –

  • Deep tissue massages will relax your muscles and mind, which will lower cortisol

  • Keeping the glycemic load small at each carbohydrate meal will keep insulin stable

  • Sleeping in a silent pitch black room will initiate high quality sleep for lowering cortisol and boosting GH release

  • Combining essential fats to each low glycemic load meal will further lower insulin release

  • Supplementing with adaptogenic herbs such as magnolia bark & rhodiola lower cortisol

  • Incorporating fiber into each meal will keep insulin levels low

  • Supplementing with Primordial Performance EndoAmp will boost GH & lower cortisol


References:  J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002 Mar;87(3):1327-36.  Glucocorticoid regulation of p450 aromatase activity in human adipose tissue: gender and site differences.  McTernan PG, Anderson LA, Anwar AJ, Eggo MC, Crocker J, Barnett AH, Stewart PM, Kumar S.

Post-Exercise Protein Consumption is Mandatory

In order to gain muscle, you MUST undergo intense resistance training.  In order to gain muscle, you MUST consume protein to re-build muscle tissue.

These two variables work synergistically with each other and to maximize your chances of gaining lean muscle tissue you simply must consume protein alongside a resistance training routine.

The timing of protein ingestion is a highly debatable subject and has been unresolved as to whether precise timing is truly essential for measureable repair/growth opposed to simply consuming enough protein at other times of the day.

A very interesting study was conducted that investigated whether immediate protein consumption or a 2-hour delayed protein consumption had measureable impact on muscle hypertrophy and strength.

13 men with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 ± 1 kg m− 2 (means ± SEM) completed a 12-week resistance training program, training 3 times a week receiving oral protein in liquid form (10 g protein, 7 g carbohydrate, 3 g fat) immediately post workout, OR 2 hours post workout.

Scientists examined muscle hypertrophy by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and from muscle biopsies and muscle strength was examined using dynamic and isokinetic strength measurements. They also measured body composition from dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) and food records were recorded over 4 days. 

They also measured insulin response to protein supplementation.  Here are the exciting and convincing results after this experiment was concluded –

  • Cross-sectional area of m. quadriceps femoris (54.6 ± 0.5–58.3 ± 0.5 cm2) and mean fiber area (4047 ± 320–5019 ± 615 μ m2) increased in the P0 group (liquid protein post-exercise group)

  • No significant increase was observed in the 2-hour delayed group

  • Dynamic & isokinetic strength increased by 46% & 15%, respectively (liquid protein post-exercise group)

  • The 2-hour delayed group ONLY improved dynamic strength by 36%

  • No differences in glucose or insulin response were observed between protein intake at 0 and 2 h post-exercise.

 This phenomenal study proves the significance of ingesting a fast acting protein supplement such as; whey protein isolate immediately post-exercise for initiating muscle hypertrophy.



1.) B Esmarck,J L Andersen*S Olsen, E A Richter†, M Mizuno, Timing of postexercise protein intake is important for muscle hypertrophy with resistance training in elderly humans. 

August 15, 2001 The Journal of Physiology, 535, 301-311. 

High LDL Cholesterol Builds Big Muscles

The word “cholesterol” is often interpreted as a major health concern regarding cardiovascular health.  When most people think of cholesterol they think of “Good Cholesterol” & “Bad Cholesterol.”  

The “Good Cholesterol” is associated with High Density Lipo-Proteins (HDL) & “Bad Cholesterol” is associated with Low Density Lipo-Proteins (LDL).  Recent research performed by Dr. Riechman from Texas A&M University may have shed some new light in regards to “Bad Cholesterol” not being such a bad guy after all.  Riechman determined that you need a reasonable amount of LDL circulating in your blood to induce adequate muscle hypertrophy.

In fact, he performed a study involving 52 adults from ages 60-69 years old who were in generally good health , but not physically active. None of the subjects were training on a regular basis. The summation of the study concluded that after moderate intense exercise, participants who had accrued the most muscle mass also displayed the highest levels of LDL (bad cholesterol). This was definitely a surprise, and not something that was expected.

This unique finding demonstrates that you need a certain amount of LDL to elicit adequate muscular hypertrophy. It proves that all forms of cholesterol are paramount to a person’s health. You simply cannot remove all of your “bad cholesterol” as that would actually be detrimental to your health.                                                                  

+ =

Low Density Lipo-Proteins gets a bad reputation for its ability to build up in the walls of arteries, which causes a reduction in blood circulation which often leads to heart disease and heart attacks.

High Density Lipo-Proteins often helps facilitate the removal of cholesterol from the arteries. However, LDL is significant in the fact that it serves as a “warning sign” that something is wrong and alerts the body to defend the malady at hand.

People need to understand that you do not want to completely rid yourself of bad cholesterol and understand that everyone needs a certain amount of both forms of cholesterol.

Riechman says “Our tissues need cholesterol, and LDL delivers it,”  “HDL, the good cholesterol, cleans up after the repair is done. And the more LDL you have in your blood, the better you are able to build muscle during resistance training.”

The study Dr. Riechman conducted serves as a useful finding in dealing with conditions such as Sarcopenia (age dependent muscle loss), which could help aging individuals fend off muscular atrophy which shortens one’s life span.

The following findings reveal how imperative essential fatty acids and saturated fat based diets are in overall health, and in a person’s plight for ultimate muscle mass accrual. 

Post Contest Rebound

How to use this anabolic phenomenon to work with you and not against you

 So you decided to commit to entering your first Bodybuilding competition. You planned out your 16 week diet protocol, which will get you as lean as you have ever been. You structured your training program methodically, which coincides with your nutrition and cardio outline perfectly. As the contest date approaches closer and closer, and hunger gets more intense, you begin fantasizing about pizza, milk shakes, cheese burgers and junk food you never initially craved for.  You can’t wait to reward yourself with all of the forbidden junk food you yearn for and also give yourself a much needed break from training and cardio. I mean, hey, you deserve it right? You just beat yourself down for 4 months and should be able to reward yourself for the hard work you put in. Not so fast champ, I will explain the more logical and proactive approach to coming off a pre-contest training and diet regimen.

After months of strict, rigorous dieting to achieve extremely low body fat levels for a bodybuilding contest, you are essentially priming yourself for what could be a muscle building dream, or a fat hoarding nightmare.  As body fat levels dip into the lower single digits, the hormone leptin, is significantly lowered thus triggering intense hunger followed by an increase in ghrelin production.  When attaining truly shredded conditioning, the constant hunger is unavoidable.

 Typically a competitor will begin plotting their "post contest binge" a few weeks before the contest, making a list of all empty calorie, fat storing foods, which are also non-conducive to muscle growth.  Instead, the smart competitor should be planning out their off season protocol a few weeks before the show and plan on making the most of their post contest rebound.  Having a good quality protein powder on hand like Primordial Performance’s Maximum Absorbed Protein can help with those cravings.

After the contest is over, your body is primed to store all nutrients you ingest. Since body fat is extremely low, your insulin sensitivity is very high.  This means less insulin is needed from your pancreas to shuttle nutrients to their destination. Greater insulin sensitivity translates into nutrients being absorbed towards muscle cells and not adipose tissue.  Since leptin is low and ghrelin is high, your appetite for muscle building foods will be ravenous. The foods you should be focusing on are typically what you would have consumed during your pre-contest phase, but in copious amounts. 

The foods that should be focused on are lean protein sources such as chicken breast, white fish, fatty fish, lean cuts of red meat. Fibrous complex carbohydrates such as: whole oats, long grain rice, yams, red potatoes, whole wheat pasta, and hot oat bran cereal.  Add in essential fats such as avocados, raw almonds, macadamia nuts and olive oil.  All of these foods are very beneficial to a depleted and nutrient deprived competitor.  Consuming these food choices in the proper caloric range will yield a super compensation effect of glycogen storage. The influx of calories also will elevate thyroid output, which increases your resting metabolic rate, and  will increase  testosterone production from essential fatty acids and additional saturated fats. This cascade of hormonal responses combined with heavy resistance training plus some added cardio will be your biggest growth spurt of the year if executed properly.  If you fall victim to the post contest binge festival the exact opposite will take place. This option usually entails the competitor eating excessive amounts of refined sugars, processed meats and carbohydrates plus large amounts of hydrogenated trans fatty acid rich junk food.

The enormous post contest ingestion of empty calorie foods is usually accompanied with down time from cardio and weight training which equates to muscle atrophy and fat cell hypertrophy. Not to mention high water retention, muscular cramps and mild depression once the feeding frenzy comes to a halt.  Try taking Primordial Performance’s Slumber Stack sleep formula before bed for a better sleep and improved muscular recovery.

I must admit, I fell victim to the post contest binge and learned my lesson the hard way. If you are a first time competitor or fell victim to a faulty rebound in the past, hopefully this article will motivate you to make the most of this short lived muscle building window. 

Leptin [lep•tin  lep-tin]

a hormone that is thought to suppress appetite and speed up metabolism.

Ghrelin [ghrel•in  grel-ən]

a gastrointestinal hormone produced by epithelial cells lining the fundus of the stomach; appears to be a stimulant for appetite and feeding, but is also a strong stimulant of growth hormone secretion from the anterior pituitary

-By Matt Porter

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