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Probably the most important point to remember about cortisol and diet is that when glycogen (stored carbohydrate) in the body gets low, cortisol levels rise. This makes perfect sense when you keep in mind that carbohydrate is your body's preferred source of calories. When the body does not have enough precious carbohydrates available, alternative sources of energy must be found. The only other options the body has for calories are fat and protein. Rising cortisol levels will speed up the breakdown of lean tissue (protein) in your body and convert the released amino acids into glucose (carbohydrate) for fuel. At the same time, rising cortisol will speed up the release of free fatty acids (from your body fat stores), making more body fat available for aerobic metabolism.
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So the truth is: The body will burn its muscular protein if you're on a calorie-reduced diet. Better start eating