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Hormones play a huge role in the body and ultimately define how well the processes in our bodies work. Hormones are chemical signals in the body that are produced within the endocrine system; they control the vast majority of our bodily functions, from things as basic as hunger and stress to things as complex as reproduction, mood and emotions. Hormonal profiles and balance will be determined by a multitude of things such as age, gender, diet, training and environment amongst many other things. This means the topic of hormones is a little tricky, as no two people are the same, making things very tough to test, measure, understand and regulate due to the array of complex processes and compounds involved within our endocrine system. However there are a few key hormones that we can focus on and signs to look out for that will help you best manage and regulate your bodily balance, understanding the major roles of key hormones will allow you to take control of your health, keeping you on track to reaching your goals.
There are so many hormones and chemical chain reaction in the body that are responsible for you ability to loose body fat and build muscle. It is an endless maze of actions and reactions that we may never fully understand. That being said, it’s not all hopeless, there is a few lifestyle changes that you can make in order to significantly impact and improve your hormonal balance and function. So lets break it down to a few basic hormones that play a huge role in affecting the way your body losses fat and gains muscle.
Known as the ‘stress hormone’, Cortisol is released in the body as a response to any form of stress, regardless of whether that stress is generated from an internal or external stressor. This makes Cortisol tricky to manage, especially with so much exposure to stress in today’s fast-passed, hectic environment. With society being so demanding, a lot of people find their Cortisol consistently elevated beyond what the body can handle, this leads to various hormonal issues that will hinder, halt and even reverse your fat loss. Increased Cortisol can lead to increase stored body fat and water retention, in particular around your abdominal area; this is a survival response, done to help protect and guard our internal organs in the presence of a potential life threatening stress. Constantly elevated Cortisol will also facilitate the breakdown of muscle tissue for immediate energy while also shuttling triglycerides (fatty acids) into the blood stream. Insulin resistance can also occur as a result of this; the end result, loss of muscle mass and an increase in body fat and fluid being held in areas you don’t want them. Not an ideal situation, however its not all bad news, here are a few simple ways to help lower, manage and combat the issues of Cortisol.
– Attempt to reduce and/or remove life factors (where possible) that educe stress. The less stress you put your body under the lower your Cortisol levels will be throughout the day.
– Get good quality sleep- this will help balance and reset your hormones. Allowing your body to rest and recover is essential to living a healthy lifestyle.
– Eat right – Consume healthy, good quality, whole foods to fuel your body and supply it with the desired nutrients it needs to recover and sustain itself.
– Reduce internal stressors such as poor gut health and digestive issues.
– Implement some low intensity exercise such as a daily walk to help de-stress and clear your mind from the fast passed stress of life.
– Reduce overall caffeine intake, this will allow your adrenal glad to re-balance its hormonal output.
Insulin is a storage hormone in the body that is responsible for blood sugar regulation and nutrient partitioning. Insulin resistance is an ever-growing issue in today’s society and can lead to diabetes and other health implications if left un-managed. Insulin resistance is a state in which your body will no longer produce Insulin or enough of it when food (carbohydrates in particular) is consumed, leading to unmanaged blood sugar levels that will cause the calories you consume to be stored as body fat as appose to being burnt for energy. Having excess levels of glucose and sugar in your bloodstream for extended periods will prompt your body to hold onto more stored body fat, as it is not needed as a source of fuel when glucose levels are elevated. Insulin resistance can often leave you feeling tired, lethargic and run down with a severe lack of energy to carry out day-to-day tasks. The positive to take from this is that the factors that cause Insulin resistance can be easily managed, preventing the development of more serious health issues down the track. So how do you manage it, well, it all starts in the kitchen.
– Reduce your intake of simple, processed sugars.
– Choose whole food sources of Carbohydrates such as oats, rice, quinoa & veggies.
– Select low GI carbohydrate sources predominantly- this will raise you blood sugar levels far less than high GI food choices.
– Increase your exercise and incorporate some resistance training, this improves our body’s sensitivity to Insulin.
– You don’t need to completely cut you favorite foods, just be mindful about your eating habits and make good food choices 80-90% of the time.
Estrogen is most commonly known as the female sex hormone, responsible for female development, reproductive processes and regulation of the menstrual cycle. However Estrogen is not female specific, men also have levels of estrogen just as females have small amounts of Testosterone; it is the balance and ratio of these two hormones that determines gender and the way our body works. The important thing about Estrogen is that it can have prolific effects on fat loss and body composition. If our body doesn’t have the right amount or even the right type of Estrogen (both in males and females) then it becomes very difficult to achieve your weight loss goals, regardless of how hard you’re working for it. Xenoestrogens are one of the biggest contributing factors to our body’s Estrogen imbalances; Xenoestrogens are toxic forms of Estrogen that enter our body through exposure to toxins such as petrochemicals, pesticides, plastics, pollutants, paints and much more. With so much exposure to these Xenoestrogens it is easy to see how we can develop such imbalances in our hormonal profiles. Estrogen dominance and imbalances will lead to fat and fluid being held in certain areas such as the hips, thighs, back of arms, lower abdominals and breast. These distinct pockets of stored body fat, cellulite and fluid can become very difficult to shift and often hang around until our hormones are re-balanced, no matter how much we diet and exercise, they just wont shift. The best way to reduce and resolve these issues is to be aware of our environment and be mindful of the things we do.
– If and when possible, reduce your exposure to toxins such as petrochemicals, pesticides, plastics, pollutants and paints.
– Wash your foods before consumption and ensure food preparation is done correctly- this means when possible, avoid heating and cooking with plastics.
– Eat a good amount and a variety of cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kale and boc choy to name a few, these veggies assist in the detoxification pathways that will help strip out Xenoestrogens.
– Take care of your liver- detoxification pathways are managed by the liver and are far more efficient and effective when it’s in a healthy state.
From all of this we can see a few key points that will be essential in managing your hormones, improving fat loss and living a healthy life:
– Being mindful of what we eat, ensuring that at least 80-90% of our diet comes from fresh, and high quality whole foods. Eat nutrient dense and in variety, different colours, spices and flavors make food not only taste and look amazing but fuel your body with the nutrients it needs and desires to recover and function optimally. Remember to be aware of what you put in your body and how it has been prepared.
– Sleep is vital, we must get enough of it and it needs to be good quality. When we sleep is when we recover and our body has a chance to relax, reset and re-balance.
– Attempt to reduce your exposure to stressors. Whether these are life stressors, toxins or internal issues, there are always small changes you can make to your lifestyle and environment that will assist in reducing the amount off stress and demand you put on your body.
Hormones are a difficult topic to wrap your head around but by understanding and managing just these three, you will be sure to see considerable changes and progress in not only your weight loss but quality of life. These hormones aren’t solely responsible for fat loss or gain, but improving them will make a massive difference to your results, having you well on your way to achieving your weight loss and body composition goals.
If you have any other questions around this topic please head in store and we can talk about your needs further and find something that will work for you.
Author Glen George Blackburn Store.