First of all lets get this covered; the higher your metabolism, the higher the amount of fat you are going to be able to burn, with less effort. So why are hormones going to be of such importance on your journey to your ideal birthday suit? Why should you worry about them?
Here's a quick skim over some hormones we will cover that will be influencing you along your journey:
- Insulin and Glucagon
- Testosterone and Oestrogen
- Human Growth Hormone (HGH)
Leptin is a hormone that is responsible for suppressing appetite. It is produced from fat cells; therefore people with a higher amount of body fat typically produce higher amounts of leptin. This one can be a killer for your metabolism. Eating 5-6 meals a day will be essential to creating that fat burning furnace of a metabolism.
Insulin is definitely one of the crowd favourites. Insulin is released from the beta cells of the pancreas and is essential for the regulation of our blood sugar levels. Whenever we eat, insulin will be produced. When we eat carbohydrates more insulin will be produced; more or less depending on the glycemic index of the meal. As we eat a meal, our blood sugar levels will increase, insulin will be able to store the glucose or carbs, in your muscles and liver. Anything that exceeds the storage capacity of your muscles and liver will be stored as fat. Most probably on your hips, stomach, thighs, maybe love-handles, back of the arms?
Glucagon is released from the alpha cells of the pancreas, and works with insulin to regulate the blood sugar levels. Since insulin stores glucose or carbs when the blood sugar is too high, Glucagon releases glucose or carbohydrate stores when the blood sugar is too low.
What we want to do is find the happy medium, eating regularly so we can maintain muscle and increase our metabolism, while having minimal insulin spikes so we are burning rather than storing. The way we do this is by eating lower GI (glycemic index) foods. So more high protein foods, having a good source of fat in each meal, and making sure your carb source is a lower GI carb; eg. Rolled oats, basmati or brown rice, quinoa, wholegrain bread, sweet potato and things like cherries etc.
The sex hormones Testosterone and Oestrogen are definitely a pair that is often misunderstood. Testosterone is huge in the quest for a stronger metabolism aka. your fat burning furnace of a body. Testosterone can inhibit the creation of fat cells, and is essential for the building of muscle. Muscle accounts for 80% of our RMR (Resting metabolic rate), so you can see why this is so important.
"But wait! I'm a woman! A girl! Female! I don't have testosterone what are you crazy?". Both males and females need a balance of both testosterone and oestrogen, males can produce more, but ladies you will not turn into 'HeMan' by improving that hormonal balance. Though you may find yourself looking better, feeling amazing and being more energetic.
Resistance training and high intensity interval training are ways to naturally boost testosterone levels and increase your fat burning potential, but you must be working to your maximum level. You cannot lie to nor fool your body, "I promise it's a 10/10
intensity right now, please increase my metabolism", no… Work to your maximum and reap the rewards, do not lie to your trainer when they ask how hard you are working.
In women, without adequate maintenance, testosterone levels may decrease with stress and age, while oestrogen levels increase dramatically. Too much oestrogen (oestrogen dominance) may cause excessive fat gain, bloating, cellulite, a decrease in libido, an inability to loose weight and a loss of energy to name a few.
Alright Mr Negative, how do I fix this then?
A few simple ways to control your oestrogen levels are;
- Increasing progesterone levels (by decreasing stress levels, increasing zinc, magnesium, vitamin B6 and C consumption)
- Eating organic/whole foods - high protein, avoiding soy products.
- HIIT and resistance training regularly.
- Minimizing alcohol intake.
Lets finish off with the human growth hormone, "is he serious? Growth hormone? Like the stuff they give horses to make them win races?" Yes, you will have an amazing body and energy levels but you may grow hooves and a tail, be careful.
HGH (Human Growth Hormone) is produced by the pituitary gland to promote brain function, tissue repair, bone density, muscle growth, metabolism (fat burning furnace!!) energy levels, and to decrease fat stores! The production of HGH peaks in our teen years, so unfortunately it may decrease as we age.
There are ways to naturally increase your HGH levels, these include:
- Increasing protein intake
- Increase quality sleep
- Avoid high GI foods
- HIIT and resistance training
- Taking care of your liver
Moral of the story: Your body won't take your lies anymore. You cannot cheat your body.
If you want to make your journey easier and create a lasting change over a quick fix/relapse, you must make your body work with you: work smarter, work for your hormones. You can do all the walking and light cardio in the world while not eating and loose weight, but that will not get you the health, vitality, and lasting lifestyle and physique you need.
My suggestion to you; incorporate a few of the things we've covered into your week, adding another on a weekly basis. Create these habits that will last, watch the fat drip off you, and become the healthy, energetic, fit and attractive person you and your family deserve.