Mastering Your Pre, Intra and Post Workout Nutrition
6 June, 2023
7 Habits To Optimize Your Hormones
One of the most neglected topics in the world of performance and recovery is hormones.
This comes as a big surprise because optimizing your hormones is one of the best things you can do for your performance, recovery and overall well being.
Before we get too far let’s look at what hormones actually are.
Hormones are chemical messengers in the endocrine system that are released into the bloodstream that travel to parts of the body and regulate many important functions.
These important functions in the brain and body include metabolism, growth and development, sexual function, and mood.
There are many different hormones in the body, and each one has a specific role to play that supports the body and brain in a unique way.
For example, cortisol is a hormone that helps to regulate the body’s stress response, and puts the body in a heightened state of awareness.
Testosterone supports libido and building muscle mass in men.
Estrogen supports libido, and helps regulate stress response in women.
Insulin is a hormone that helps to control blood sugar levels and shuttles nutrients into tissues.
Hormones are important for athletes because they play a key role in optimal physical performance and recovery.
Not only that, but hormones play a large role in your ability to recover, repair muscles, increase strength and endurance and boost metabolic function.
There’s too many hormones to discuss individually in this blog as there’s entire endocrine textbooks that go into the nitty gritty details.
The hormonal optimization habits in this blog are broad, however they work for improving overall hormone health.
But, before we dive into what you should do to improve hormone function let’s take a look at…
What Causes Hormone Problems To Begin With?
First and foremost if you feel like you have clinical issues with your hormones not caused by lifestyle and nutrition factors seek out help from a trained professional.
Professionals like endocrinologists have studied for years to understand and repair hormone issues that require medical interventions.
This blog is NOT medical advice and there will be many hormone issues that span far beyond the scope of this blog so please seek out medical help if needed.
On the other side there are some lifestyle and nutrition factors that cause hormonal dysfunction, and those factors include:
- Under Recovery: Engaging in too much intense physical activity without recovery leaves the body in a state of chronic stress that can rob the body of the raw materials that would otherwise become testosterone, estrogen and a number of other hormones.
- Poor nutrition: A lack of proper nutrients in the diet can affect hormone production and metabolism. This is especially true when an athlete is following a diet that is too restrictive in terms of calories, fats, carbs or protein.
- Sleep deprivation: Sleep deprivation can disrupt hormone production, cognitive function and overall metabolism. If there’s one thing you could do optimize hormones, sleeping more would be at the top of that list.
- Stress: Chronic stress can lead to an excess of cortisol, which can disrupt the body’s hormonal balance by interfering with how some hormones work, slowing down the metabolism and stealing the raw materials that were supposed to become other hormones.
- Abusing stimulants like caffeine: Caffeine is great for helping to improve athletic performance however too much of a good thing can backfire. When you use too many stimulants it keeps stress hormones spiked, reduces appetite and interferes with quality sleep which all hurt your hormone function.
If you’ve been driving your body on redline for a long time and have forced it to adapt with some form of suppressing a hormone it will take a while to fix.
This isn’t going to happen overnight however, if you stick with these habits I guarantee you will look, feel and perform better in the long run.
The 7 Hormone Optimization Habits:
- Get enough sleep: Sleep is essential for maintaining healthy hormone levels. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night. If there’s only one habit you adopt this would be the biggest for your hormones.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet: A diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, high quality proteins and carbs with healthy fats. By focusing on whole foods and reducing processed foods you give your body better raw materials to make hormones from.
For many athletes they see a large bump in their hormonal health by eating more calories and carbohydrates.
- Take rest or active recovery days: If you train hard everyday your body is in a state of constant repair and that increases inflammation and stress.
Inflammation and stress both interfere with hormone production and block your hormone receptors from binding to and using hormones.
- Reduce stress: Chronic stress can disrupt hormone balance. Try to find ways to manage stress, such as through meditation, reading, journaling or going on long walks.
- Avoid excessive caffeine: Over consumption of caffeine is usually a sign that you’re not getting enough sleep, eating poorly or burned out. Over doing caffeine to mask these issues can cause issues with sleep and spike stress hormones that interfere with hormones.
- Avoid environmental toxins: Mainly here you’ll want to avoid BPA (Bisphenol A) and Phthalates as both of these which are found in plastics are well established estrogen and testosterone disruptors in men and women. Get glass tupperware, avoid plastic water bottles, minimize foods that come from a can and use less ziplock bags.
- Consider using Vitamin D3 and Omega-3s: Now there’s a lot of different supplements out there with very weak evidence that they do anything for hormones, but make big claims. However when we look at the evidence of Vitamin D3 and Omega’s for hormonal health the evidence is very strong.
In fact, Vitamin D3 is such a powerful vitamin they’ve almost reclassified it as a prohormone, and Omega-3 fats were found in research to help to regulate the production and metabolism of certain hormones, including testosterone and estrogen.
As you can see, optimizing your hormones is a lifestyle and not something that’s going to happen overnight.
It is going to take effort and require some big lifestyle changes to reap the benefits restoring healthy hormonal function…
However, if you adopt the habits listed above I guarantee you’ll look, feel and perform better than ever before.
The advice in this blog is not medical advice. It is not meant to treat, diagnose or cure any medical condition or to be a substitution for medical advice.
If you are dealing with a medical condition please always consult with a physician before making any changes.
As always at Vitargo we’re here to help and support you however we can so feel free to email us at email@example.com