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Reduce Stress for Muscle Gain

We often talk about incorrect eating and/or insufficient sleep that has a negative effect on mass building and fat loss, however there is  another component that plays a role – and that is stress. Stress in all facets of life is difficult to avoid. Stress at work, stress in a relationship, and many other such instances will have a negative impact on training objectives. There are a number of sure-fire ways to help reduce the detrimental effect of stress so you can more  build muscle and drop body fat more effectively

Drink Green Tea

If you drink lots of coffee - consider going green. Coffee tends to raise the level of the stress hormone, cortisol, while green tea does the opposite, says Nicholas Perricone, MD, author of 7 Secrets to Beauty, Health, and Longevity. Chamomile tea is excellent for calming the mind and reducing stress. In a University College of London report, participants who drank regular black tea displayed lower levels of cortisol, and reported feeling calmer during six weeks of stressful situations than those who drank the same amount, but drinking caffeine instead

Get Better Sleep

Lack of sleep and poor quality of sleep will greatly affect the body’s ability to deal with stress efficiently. Eight hours is the benchmark number of hours of sleep an average person should be getting- however with the increased demands of life, it is not always possible. If this is the case, make sure the quality of sleep is just as sound in order to make up for those couple of hours lost. Quality deep sleep is important in terms of the positive functioning of hormones during the night. During this phase of deep sleep, the body's cortisol secretions are decreased while growth hormone levels rise.


Stress makes your muscles tense, and not everyone has the time – or finances- to regularly visit a practitioner to help alleviate the tenseness, you can help yourself in the following ways:

  • Place both hands on your shoulders and neck.
  • Squeeze with your fingers and palms.
  • Keeping shoulders relaxed, rub vigorously.
  • Wrap one hand around the other forearm.
  • Squeeze the muscles with the thumb and fingers.
  • Move up and down from your elbow to fingertips and back again.
  • Repeat with other arm.

Consume Foods that Reduce Stress


A range of food types can also reduce cortisol and adrenaline. A nutritious diet can counteract the negative impact of stress by strengthening the immune system and lowering blood pressure. There are also specific foods that one should consume more frequently should stress levels be high, namely:

1. Blueberries – they are very high in vitamin C, which has been shown to give the body added reserves to help it deal with high levels of stress. Blueberries are also high in fiber, which helps regulate blood sugar levels.


2. Low fat or skim milk -Milk is high in protein, and protein helps blood sugar to stay stabilized. As an alternative to indulging in a comfort food such as ice-cream, mix milk and frozen blueberries in a blender for a healthier pick-me-up.

3. Oranges -Oranges are very rich in vitamin C. In stressful situations, the body releases large amount free radicals. Vitamin C controls these free radicals and repairs the body.

4. Brown rice - whole grains are concentrated in B-Vitamins and also supply serotonin producing carbohydrates that do not spike blood sugar levels.

5. Green Veggies - green vegetables are rich in nutrients that help replenish our bodies in times of stress. They also contain potassium, which has a positive effect on nerves, and helps calm them. Also, when we eat a diet high in vegetables, we do not feel weighed down by our diet, and it is easier to get stress-reducing exercise.


Janet B. Psychological effects of dietary components of tea: caffeine and L-theanine. Nutrition Reviews 2008;66:82-90.
Panossian A, Wagner H. Stimulating effect of adaptogens: an overview with particular reference to their efficacy following single dose administration. Phytotherapy Research 2005;19:819-838.
Potter, N.N. and Hotchkiss, J.H. Food Science. 5th Edition. Chapman and Hall, New York, NY. pp. 138-161, 1995

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