Boost Your Hormones Naturally and Finally Succeed
Hormones are chemicals your body uses to communicate between systems. To cut to the end of an incredibly long and complex story, how happy, motivated, swole, flabby, and anything else you are is tightly regulated via hormones.
One thing you probably don't know is that these hormones are always in flux, responding to everything that goes on in and around you. For example, the appearance of a grizzly bear will spike your epinephrine levels to fight or flight. Eating a big sugary meal will spike your insulin to shuttle away the food. While these events begin with external stimuli (grizzly bear, big meal), how well your body deals with them depends on your hormonal responses. Why do some people seem to get awesome results from exactly what causes others to stagnate?
Hormones have an unbelievable amount of control over your body to the point that too much of certain hormones can kill you - A Thyroid Storm can speed up your metabolism to the point of death.
Learn how to influence these hormones and maximize them to your advantage for awesome results.
The main hormones that we will be talking about are
Overall health and wellbeing, plays a big role in muscle/tissue gain, strength and male characteristics.
- Muscle Gain
- Fat Loss
- Strength Gain
- Sex drive
- Overall health and wellbeing
Extremely complex, plays a very large role in the body, for our purposes it helps in muscle/tissue gain.
- Muscle Gain
- Strength Gain
- Overall health
Part of the Stress response, has negative effects if long lasting. Mainly responsible to suppressing immune system (anti-inflammatory), increasing blood sugar, burning up fat/protein stores.
Chronic elevated effects
- Fat gain
- Muscle loss
- Weakened immune system
Responsible for shuttling sugar and nutrients from blood stream into the cells - muscle, fat, organs etc. Affected directly by blood sugar levels.
Poor Insulin Control (Insulin Resistance/Pre-Diabetes)
- Light headedness
- Mood Swings
- Fat Gain
Good Insulin Control
- High energy levels
- Stable mood/motivation
- Fat Loss (in deficit)
- Muscle Gain (in surplus)
Primary metabolism hormone. Your thyroid controls the speed of your metabolism, cell growth, and how sensitive your body is to other hormones.
- Low energy/motivation
- Fat and water gain and difficulty losing fat and water
- Slow muscle/strength gains
Appetite hormone. Very low levels indicates to the body that it's starving and causes huge increase in appetite.
That's a lot of hormones!
There's a lot going on in your body - massive understatement - and all this is barely scratching the surface. But you don't have to be a endocrinologist to boost favorable hormones, reduce the negative ones, and achieve a natural balance. So let's see how its done.
Strength training and anaerobic exercise increase growth hormone and testosterone levels - among many other benefits. Low rep, high weight will trigger the best response, so work in the 3-5 repetition range. Focus on large, multi-joint movements and do plenty of warm up sets to prepare your body and brain for heavy loading. Here's my favorite set/rep scheme ( % reflect percentage of max):
- 25% x 10
- 25% x 10
- 35% x 8
- 55% x 6
- 70% x 5
- 75% x 5
- 80% x 5
- 85% x 4
Lifts to focus on:
- Bent Over Rows
- Bench Press
- Shoulder Press
- Pull Ups
Having said all that, the stress of lifting is only one side of the coin. You have to balance it out with good recovery. Hormonal increase comes as a response to the stress of lifting, but if the stress is too big or frequent your body can't recover properly. Lack of recovery will actually worsen your hormonal profile, so take relaxation seriously.
- Foam rolling
- Baths (with Epsom Salt)
- Days off from the gym
- Sleep (more on this below)
Do Daily Activity
Activity is a fundamental pillar of good lifestyle. It's not superflous or something extra you do, but really a core necessity for your body to function properly. In the past we've discussed how activity effects joint health and general recovery. General activity also plays a huge role in regulating your hormones.
Effects of being active
- Improved insulin sensitivity -- meaning less chance of developing diabetes, plus more energy and less appetite.
- The best cure for fatigue since it increases epinephrine and norepinephrine which increases your energy
- Outperformed prozac in trials of mild depression
- Increased Testosterone, Growth Hormone, and Thyroid levels.
- Increased Dopamine - similar effect to ADD medication. Improved mood, wellbeing and energy levels. Good dopamine levels can help balance your appetite and reduce compulsive/impulsive behavior.
My recommendation is to get an activity in the morning and one in the evening. So train/do cardio in the morning and then go for a short walk in the evening. Simple yet effective
Sleep and Improve Recovery
We've already talked about the benefits of recovery and how important it is for strength gain and fat loss. A lot of those benefits come from boosting your hormones, most of it happening during the night time when you are sleeping.
Benefits of Sleep
- Improved insulin sensitivity
- Increased growth hormone levels
- Speeds up your metabolism by increasing thyroid levels
- Regulates appetite via increasing leptin levels
- Decreases evening cortisol levels which make you feel stressed
Sleep restriction was associated with reductions in leptin [appetite suppressant hormone] and elevations in ghrelin [appetite stimulant hormone] and increased hunger and appetite, especially an appetite for foods with high-carbohydrate contents. The magnitude of [the leptin] decrease was comparable to that occurring after 3 days of restricting caloric intake by approximately 900 kcal/day. But the subjects in the sleep-restriction condition received identical amounts of caloric intake and had similar levels of physical activity as when they were fully rested. Thus, leptin levels were signaling a state of famine in the midst of plenty.
What to do for best sleep?
Get at least 8 hours of night time sleep. Follow our sleep protocol to maximize sleep.
Don't forget the article on improving recovery!
Improve your Nutrition and Diet
All hormones are synthesized from the food and supplements that you eat. Your body uses the building blocks from vitamins, amino acids and other nutrients to make the necessary hormones, chemicals and neurotransmitters for your body to function.
So how do you make sure all that is topped off?
- Get more Vitamin-D to improve bone health, reduce cancer, improve energy levels, and overall health. The maximum recommended dose is 4000 iu daily which is suited for those with a deficiency.
- Eat more protein since amino acids are building blocks which your body uses to restore muscle and other vital functions. Furthermore a lot of amino acids are precursors to neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine.
- Eat more meat as they contain a lot of protein but other important nutrients like creatine, cholesterol - a precursor to Testosterone and other hormones, and B vitamins.
- Eat more vegetables with every meal to get all the nutrients necessary for optimal function.
- Eat balanced: not just proteins and veg, but carbs, fat, and even cholesterol are necessary for optimal hormone production.
- Drink your H-DO!
There's a lot more you can do but there's no point if you don't have the basics down. Sleep better, eat better, be more active, reduce stress and all the positive hormones will shoot through the roof. I'm not really exaggerating that you can get a lot of pharmaceutical -like effects just from lifestyle adjustments since most people are starting from such a low point.