Hormones are the most powerful chemical messengers in our bodies – they affect so much more than just our mood, they are responsible for our daily bodily functions, reproduction, weight control and more. Hormones are special chemicals that travel through the bloodstream and they carry messages from the glands where they are produced to cells in different parts of the body where they regulate certain cellular processes that can control your appetite, stress, blood sugar, sleep patterns, sex drive, growth and more. Many of us think about hormones when it comes to big life changes like puberty, pregnancy or menopause, which is mostly associated with women’s bodies – but the truth is that men and women alike are equally affected by hormones and keeping them in balance will help you feel better, be healthier and look great!
Many of us focus on external factors that affect our weight, such as diet and exercise, but you may be surprised to learn that hormones actually play a very big role in how your body responds to any weight loss programs you are participating in and other diet efforts. That being said, it’s important to learn how hormones affect your health and understand how you can naturally keep your body and hormones balanced so you can feel your best and so your efforts for weight loss are not in vain. To really understand how hormones affect your health and how you can control them, you need to learn a bit about them first. Here is some basic information on the hormones that have an impact on your weight, and how you can manage them:
- Testosterone is one of the most well-known hormones, and it’s not just important for men – women have it too, but at much lower levels. In the right amount testosterone can help increase muscle mass and strength. If the body produces too much or too little testosterone then it can affect your sex drive, fat storage and even increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Dietary fat intake and high interval training could help you boost testosterone levels if you’re trying to increase your levels to gain muscle mass.
- Estrogen is usually thought of as a hormone that is only present in women, but men actually also produce low levels of estrogen. In women, estrogen is responsible for regulating the reproductive system, and in males it is very important for sex drive. As it relates to weight and fitness, estrogen has an effect on muscle recovery, brain health and how fat is stored in the body. Excess fat in the body can turn into estrogen, which will make it difficult to build muscle and lose weight – this imbalance can eventually lead to more fat storage and end in a vicious cycle. The best way to balance your estrogen levels is to eat well and exercise on a regular basis. We also encourage you to stay away from soy products as they tend to disrupt the balance of hormones, and also try to stay within a healthy range of body fat so that excess fat doesn’t turn into excess estrogen.
- Insulin is mostly associated with diabetes, but it also plays a big role in how your metabolism functions. Your body releases insulin when the carbs from the food you eat enter your blood stream and cells absorb the blood sugar, or glucose. If your body releases more insulin than necessary then you can develop an insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes. In order to optimize your insulin levels, you need to be mindful of your eating habits and be consistent with your exercise routine. You can really alleviate symptoms of insulin resistance or sensitivity by being diligent with what you eat and how often you are physically active.
- Cortisol is a hormone that controls your energy levels when you are feeling stressed. If you are feeling anxious about a looming deadline at work or feeling threatened, then your cortisol levels will spike and release glucose into the blood stream giving you a burst of energy. Cortisol spikes can also happen during intense exercise or training. These short spikes are good for you, but if your cortisol levels are high then it could affect your cardiovascular health and can be an indication of being very stressed. The best way to combat high levels of cortisol is to engage in typical stress-relieving activities like meditation, rest and proper sleep.
Your hormones have a very powerful effect on your body and overall health. The best way to keep them in check is to make sure you get a good night’s sleep on a regular basis, make healthy food choices and engage in a regular and consistent exercise regime. For more information on health, diet, fitness and weight loss services follow our blog or find us on Facebook.