Hormones 101

Remember growing up and adults mentioning that you had “raging hormones” or hearing on TV how those crazy teenagers were out of control because of their hormones. Those crazy hormones would wreak havoc on teenagers from emotional outbursts, “physical” feelings and overall physique development. You would just look at a pretty girl and “feel” things or just touch a dumbbell & instantly grow muscle. Those were the days, huh? Minus the braces and acne of course…

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… Well, fast forward to “adulthood” (I still act like a child occasionally – ok, all the time) and hormones still have a strangle hold on our lives. For those of us on the journey to Gainsville, hormones are more important now than they were then. They can be the catalyst to us packing on pound of muscle after pound of muscle, or they can severely derail our quest for beaucoup gains.

So lets take a quick look at the all-star team of hormones that play such an integral part to our physique development

Testosterone 

Sort of how the Squat (or Deadlift) is the king of all exercises, from a man’s perspective Testosterone is the king of all hormones. Testosterone, in the words of DJ Khaled, is a “Major Key.” This is the principal hormone responsible for building muscle size and strength. Pretty important right?

Test can also have a major impact on energy levels, mood and overall motivation. With decreased levels of Test leading increased body fat, thinning of bones, cholesterol problems and potential increased risk for heart disease – among other things.

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Testosterone is produced in men’s testicles and has been known to decrease by at least 1% per year once we hit our mid 30s. So what can I do to increase my testosterone Dan?

  • Exercise and Lift Weights
  • Eat a balanced diet
  • Minimize stress and cortisol levels (more on this in a minute)
  • Unlike me, do not avoid the sun or Vitamin D
  • Ensure you’re hitting your micro-nutrients (vitamins)
  • SLEEP!! Please refer here
  • Seek out natural testosterone boosters to supplement with.

Human Growth Hormone (HGH) 

Lets call this Robin to Testosterone’s Batman. HGH has very similar effects on the body. Essential to human development, HGH aids in growth, cell reproduction and cell regeneration.

Thanks to its properties, HGH helps you gain muscle, burn fat, can affect your mood (for the better) as well as improve your energy levels. When is HGH produced? When you’re sleeping. There goes that sleep thing again trying to steal all the attention…

Unfortunately, HGH is not an endless supply. Natural levels do begin to decrease once we hit our 30’s (Being an adult is fun, huh?). So to that point, we must take necessary precautions to keep our HGH fire stoked

Insulin

This hormone can be a double-edged sword. It can do a lot of good but at the same time, can easily bring about a lot of bad if not understood or utilized properly.

Insulin can be an incredible strong anabolic hormone, helping to shuttle precious nutrients to those growing muscles. On the flip side, if constantly spiked, it can help promote more fat storage than we want.

Carbs, Carbs, Carbs. Fats, Fats, Fats

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Insulin is produced in the beta cells of the pancreas and is central to regulating carbohydrate and fat metabolism. As a rule of thumb, shoot to consume a bulk of your carbs before and after your training sessions.

Cortisol

This is the stress hormone. Cortisol can have a massive impact on muscle gain, fat gain and strength gains. Released under time of high stress, Cortisol can cause muscle breakdown, increase our accumulation of fat and slow down our metabolism.

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Another side effect of increased Cortisol is that it can shrink the thymus gland, which is a key immune system regulator. Long story shot, making you more prone to sickness. Can’t be missing time in the gym cuz of sickness, right? Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Foods rich in antioxidants can help alleviate Cortisol levels. Supplementing with magnesium, calcium, chromium and zinc can also help reduce Cortisol levels. And … wait for it … SLEEP!

Thyroid Hormone

If you’re anything like me, body temperature regulation is a major key. Because I run hot and I’m always sweating. The Thyroid Hormone helps your body regulate internal temperature and also regulates your metabolism. It helps maintain our energy levels, appetite and mood. If for some reason your TH is under-active, you will see a noticeable decline in your energy levels, a sharp drop in your metabolism and you’ll feel extremely tired.

Guess what affects your Thyroid Hormone? Stress! So keeping that in check will go a long way. Eating foods high in Iodine will stimulate your TH positive (eggs, shellfish, cow’s milk). Also incorporating cheat meals into your diet plan will help spur the Thyroid Hormone into action.

Estrogen

This hormone is mainly associated with women, but men produce a small dosage (mainly for sperm production and bone maintenance). In the world of bodybuilding, Estrogen run completely opposite to the effects of Testosterone. A main reason as to why men generally tend to build more muscle than women is the natural Testosterone. Roughly, on average, men produce 10x the amount of Testosterone as men.

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A general increase in Estrogen past the point of normal can lead to additional fat gain, water retention and could even lead to prostate or breast cancer.

The best natural way to control elevated estrogen is to keep your bodyfat low. Higher bodyfat means greater activity of aromatase, the enzyme that converts androgens into estrogen. Another way to control estrogen safely is to eat generous amounts of green veggies, such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage and kale, among others. Eating those foods converts the dangerous form of estrogen to a form that is benign, but you still get the benefits of estrogen for health and muscle growth.


And there you have it folks. A quick crash course on the hormones that run our body and can lead us to the promised land. Hope you learned a little something.

Now go out there show those hormones who’s boss and get those gains!

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