Do you remember the days when you heard the word “hormones” and immediately thought of puberty? Sure, they still play an important part during a young adult’s pubescent years, but your hormones are a critical part of your day-to-day life, and without them, you really wouldn’t function.
But did you know that your hormones also play a big role in your fitness journey? In fact, they actually have a number of roles like cuing hunger and cravings, where you store excess fat, and your energy levels.
Here are 6 roles of your hormones in your fitness journey:
Yes, your hunger is triggered by hormones! In fact, there are two specifically that can impact both our hunger, and our cravings: leptin and ghrelin.
Leptin is a hormone that is released to cue satiety - basically, it helps us to realize when we’re full, or satisfied. Ghrelin, on the other hand, tells us when we’re hungry. Both of these hormones are impacted by our weight, however we can alter these levels based on our sleep cycle. Studies have shown, that having a shorter sleep, especially if it is habitual, can elevate our ghrelin, and reduce leptin. This leaves us eating more, even if our bodies don’t really need it!
Insulin is the hormone that helps us to keep our blood sugar balanced. Kind of think of it as the “responsible friend”. When you get too wild, or excited, they come in and bring you back down to reality. In insulin’s case, it shows up when our blood sugar gets too high, and brings it back down by releasing insulin.
However, after years of living in a vicious roller coaster with our blood sugar and insulin, we may end “insulin resistant”. This can also affect our metabolism, causing it to slow down or dysfunction.
We all likely know that estrogen is a major component in a female’s menstrual cycle. But did you know that many men are showing up with excess estrogen (or reduced testosterone)? In fact, both of these can impact excess weight gain - particularly around your stomach.
There are a few reasons that this can happen, which include:
- Environmental toxins
- Drugs (prescription, and non-prescription) and alcohol
- Hormonal Contraception
This is why a liver cleanse can be helpful, especially when you feel like you’ve tried everything and just don’t see the scale moving.
Stress plays a major role in your fitness journey - from weight gain, to energy at the gym. We can also relate weight gain around the abdomen to increased stress levels. This dates back to our ancestors, who would need the extra padding around their abdomen when stressed to protect their internal organs.
However, our stress today doesn’t result in us being attacked by a bear and it just sits as excess fat.
And it’s not just major stressors that cause this weight gain. Chronic stress through driving, work, environmental toxins, lack of sleep, etc. all contribute to their constant state of stress, whether we know it or not.
Here’s the funny thing about our thyroid: most of us won’t know that we have imbalanced thyroid hormones. When we go to the doctors and have our thyroid tested, they will usually only test our TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone). As the name suggests, this stimulates our thyroid to release more hormones, called T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine).
Now, you’re probably wondering why this all matters!
When our TSH levels are low, we may see weight gain, while if it is high, we can have weight loss. However, if our TSH levels are within a “normal range”, our T3 and T4 may still be off, and can impact your fitness journey. If you think your thyroid might be out of balance, talk to your doctor or naturopath about testing!