The 411 on Cortisol...

Corisol is a very important steriod hormone produced by the adrenal gland.  Cortisol is known as the stress hormone because it released during times of mental or physical stress.  Typical levels are highest in the morning and lowest during sleep.  In the morning the levels rise to prime your body for the day, get you ready to hunt, or pumped for the days CF WOD.  Cortisol stimulates gluconeogensis by regulating conversion of metabolites into glucose.  Cortisol's primarly involved with increasing blood sugar, supressing the immune system, and regulating metabolism of fat, sugar and protein.   Here is an excerpt for Robb Wolf's book The Paleolithic Solution:

"...Most people are familiar with the idea that cortisol is a "stress" hormone, but this is misleading and more a function of our modern lives than cortisol really being a "stress" hormone.  Cortisol is in fact critical to life...

...A normal day for our Paleolithic ancestors would start by awakening with relatively high cortisol levels...This is nature's way of making sure we are alert, energized, and ready to go!  Cortisol causes the release of glucose and fatty acids from the liver.  That's energy our Paleolithic ancestors needed to move camp, hunt, gather, and generally get the day going...In the evening, when we are winding down and going to bed, Cortisol should drop...

...When you are subjected to stress, particularly chronic stress [as opposed to the more normal fight or flight acute stressors we were designed to meet] your body releases cortisol much more frequently than it should.  This gets ugly when cortisol is not only high in the morning, but all day long, even at bedtime...It is a nasty snowball effect...Abnormally elevated cortisol begins to disturb sleep, which makes us more prone to daily stress, which raises cortisol.  The consequences of this downward spiral include suppressed immune function, chronically elevated blood sugar levels, decreased insulin sensitivity, impaired ability to form long-term memory, and decreased sex drive and libido.  Yes folks, cortisol is a big deal...

...If we are chronically insulin resistant and have elevated blood glucose levels from cortisol, it is quite similar to eating a high-carb diet.  Advanced glycation end-products age our skin and organs at an accelerated rate.  Insulin resistance causes us to store fat around the waistline and we tend to not use body fat for energy.  Additionally, elevated cortisol destabilizes the protein collagen, which is what gives youthful skin its, well, youthfulness!  Even if your food is pretty good, you can undermine your health by mismanagement of stress and sleep...

...(explaining a case study for a guy named Charlie) Normally, our cortisol is low at night to allow us to go to sleep.  In Charlie's case, he is in a stage of burnout in which his cortisol is actually high in the evening and rock bottom in the morning...A common solution to this problem is downers at night and uppers in the AM.  Downers usually entail a few glasses of wine and an ever-increasing dose of coffee in the moring.  The problem is the wine makes that disturbed sleep even worse because it blocks the critical release of growth hormone in early sleep.  The escalating morning stimulant dose helps initially, but it just digs a deeper hole in the long run..."

My point of this post is to make sure we have our priorities in line with our goals.  If you have goals of weight lose, increasing strength, running faster or farther, then make sure you are:

A. Sleeping

B. Sleeping

C. Eating right

D. Getting in your CrossFit WOD

Pretty much in that order.  If the first three are not in line then you may be swiming with waders on.  I have told clients who have struggled with weight loss because of lask of sleep, that they would be better off showing up at the gym, going to the kiddie room and taking a nap, then working out.  Over excercise can really jack corisol levels, too.  CrossFit is like medicine.  The coaches give out the dose we think will induce the optimal response for the goal one is seeking.  Taking more doses may have the opposite effect then one is seeking due to cortisol related effects.  Please talk to your coaches if you are not meeting your goals with weight loss, are having sleeping issues or have nutrtional questions. 

12x2 OHS @50%
"Nasty Girls"
50 Squats
7 Muscle Ups
10 Hang Power Cleans (135/95)