Cortisol is a catabolic stress hormone that gets released after intense workouts. It’s anti-muscle properties are part of the reason why killing yourself day after day in the gym isn’t always the shortest path to your physique goals. Luckily, we have learned that periodizing intensity and using smart recovery methods can blunt cortisol’s affects. However, cortisol is also released during social and psychological stress. Since you can’t tell your boss to “just chill,” the next best thing might be to eat more healthy fat.
Scientists in Vienna, Austria, have found that the healthy unsaturated fats from chia seeds and walnuts can limit the release of cortisol even during periods of extreme stress. They also found that while most subjects tend to move less (read: skip workouts) during stressful periods, the ones who ate walnuts and chia seeds engaged in significantly more exercise despite the stress.