The human body is truly an incredible machine with more functions than even modern science can fully understand. Hormones are complex chemical messages that are secreted into the bloodstream. The blood carries these signals to organs and tissues of the body and essentially tells them what to do. There are many types of hormones in the body that all play very important roles and can greatly affect your physique. Here are six hormones you need to know about if you want to reach your goals in health and fitness!
Testosterone is a male sex hormone that is important for muscle growth and strength. While this hormone is extremely important for men, women also produce testosterone, just at lower levels.
Cortisol is a hormone produced in the adrenal glands that is our body’s way of responding to stress. Secretion of this hormone is highest in the morning, when the body needs to get up and get going for the day. It is at a low point when the body needs to calm down and relax before bed as it prepares to enter a deep, restful sleep. High levels of cortisol can also result in poor recovery after intense training.
Human growth hormone (HGH) is a very important hormone that promotes and increases the building of new protein tissues (such as muscle recovery or repair), improves sleep quality, builds strong bones and much more. The majority of HGH is released into your body as you are sleeping, especially in deep sleep.
Insulin is a hormone that allows your body to use glucose (sugar) from carbohydrates in the food that you eat for energy or to store for future use. Insulin helps keep your blood sugar level under control. A quick rise in insulin levels clears out the majority of the sugar in the bloodstream, pushing it into muscle and fat cells. If you eat a high amount of very fast-digesting sugar, like that found in baked goods, candy or soda drinks, you will likely experience a large spike in insulin followed by a crash. A crash can make you feel like your energy levels have been zapped. After the crash you may also likely feel hungry and be compelled to look for more sugary foods to satisfy your craving, creating a cycle of overeating and weight gain.
Estrogen is a hormone produced mostly in females but also to a lesser degree in men. For gains in muscle size and strength, it is important to maintain a favorable testosterone-to-estrogen ratio.
The thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) support muscle building and fat loss. When people go on very low-calorie diets to lose weight it may be accompanied with a drop in thyroid hormone production. When this happens, people may experience a reduction in muscle protein synthesis (muscle growth) and a slower metabolism, making it difficult to lose weight and build muscle and strength.