How To Supercharge Your Hormones
Updated July 24, 2015.
Want a roaring sex drive and ripped body – even as you age? The power isn’t in a pill or a powder. It’s in your hormones. Find out how you can make the most of them.
Your hormones dictate a lot about how you feel. That goes for the gym – as well as the bedroom.
For men, testosterone, growth hormone (GH), insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), and insulin are the four hormones that fuel us.
When these hormone levels are well-managed, they can make you feel strong, powerful, and energetic.
Unfortunately, our hormone levels can drop by age and lifestyle factors. In fact, testosterone and growth hormone level drop significantly around age 30 and will continue to drop by as much as 10% every decade thereafter.
But there are things you can do to encourage healthy hormone systems.
Here’s how to ‘hack’ your endocrine system and enhance your natural superpowers.
First a look at the main male hormones
Testosterone is a steroid hormone that has androgenic and anabolic effects in both men and women.
It’s considered the daddy of all male hormones and has many important functions like regulating libido, energy, bone health, immune function and muscular development.
Growth Hormone (GH) and Insulin-Like Growth Factor-1
Growth hormone (GH) positively affects metabolic functions, glycogen production, protein synthesis, fat metabolism and structural elements such as bone and cartilage.
It also stimulates the production of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1).
IGF-1 triggers a chain of events that ultimately make your muscles grow.
Insulin is secreted by the pancreas and will spike proportionately in response to increased blood sugar levels, usually following the ingestion of food and/or beverages. As the level of blood sugar subside so do insulin secretion levels.
Once insulin is in the blood it transports nutrients like glucose, amino acids and fatty acids into tissue cells. If these nutrients are shuttled into muscle cells, then the muscles will grow. Conversely, if these nutrients are shuttled into fat cells, body fat increases.
How to supercharge your hormones
Want to keep these good hormones roaring through your system? Here’s what to do.
1. Get 7-9 hours of sleep every night.
To place the body into an anabolic (muscle-building) state, adequate sleep is essential.
A big spike of GH is released within the first hour or so of sleep. Then, smaller bursts of GH are secreted about every four hours. The more sleep you get, the more GH you produce.
On the other end, a lack of sleep contributes to an increase in cortisol production, a catabolic, muscle-damaging hormone, which will lower testosterone levels.
2. Practice daily stress reduction.
For most of us, life comes equipped with a constant, high degree of daily stress. Too much stress increases cortisol levels, which causes testosterone levels to plummet and decreases the secretion of GH.
Practice a daily stress-reducing activity like yoga or meditation to minimize these effects and keep your hormones happy.
3. Perform regular, high-intensity exercise with short rest periods.
Compound, multi-joint exercises (think squats, lunges, pull-ups, and presses) at high-intensity with minimal rest between sets increases GH, IGF-1 and testosterone secretion.
The release of this hormonal trifecta is proportional to intensity. The more intense a workout, the more anabolic hormone is released.
Consistency counts! Do your exercises regularly and your anabolic hormones will be pumping more frequently throughout the day.
4. Drink a protein/carbohydrate drink within an hour after working out.
Try drinking a protein-carb “super shake” after your next workout.
High-quality, fast digesting protein consumption immediately after a workout provides the proper “building blocks” for your muscles. The carbs create an insulin spike that will shuttle all of those muscle-building nutrients directly into the muscle cells, jumpstarting the repair and regrowth process.
5. Eliminate or significantly reduce your intake of caffeine, alcohol, nicotine and other drugs.
Alcohol interferes with protein synthesis, dramatically reduces testosterone levels, decreases GH secretion and lowers insulin sensitivity causing nutrients to be delivered into fat cells rather than muscle cells.
Caffeine and other drugs will elevate cortisol levels, which drive down testosterone production as previously mentioned.
In the end, your hormones have a lot of power. Treat your body well and you can keep them going strong, even as you age.
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