HORMONES. They can be our worst enemy or our best friend. They can leave you feeling like the world is ending via an internal Chernobyl meltdown or like you invented, built and own the place!
I am not gonna do what everyone thinks I’m gonna do and FLIP OUT MAAN!
The purpose of this hormonal conversation relates to food, muscle building and how to utilize these high maintenance freaks to make the most of your hard work.
NEED INPUT! I am a nerd. There I said it. I am truly a geek. I geek out on things that have to do with human psychology, biology, communication, physiology, sociology the list goes on and on. I am fascinated by humans and why they do the things they do. I studied both Communication and Sociology at ASU I can’t get enough. I also am very interested in how all of these things relate back to all facets of our health. That is certainly why I ended up with a career in healthcare sales consulting.
Sure, I could go pay someone to just give me a formula of what to eat and exactly how to workout and save myself the time of doing it myself. My problem is always wanting to know WHY?
I have the luxury of knowing some of the best dentists in the state. When I recently had to get a root canal, I went to three different doctors I absolutely respect and would send anyone that I knew to any of them for treatment. I got three different answers on how I should handle my tooth. All valid and correct ways, but they were all quite different. That is when it is up to ME to educate myself on my options and why I may choose one way over another. Each of us are individuals we have different goals, needs and wants.
When it comes to ironing some of the research out it can get very time consuming. I am lucky to have a really awesome network of friends, trainers and athletes that I can bounce things off once I do start peeling through the information. Let’s get peeling.
First, we need to break these puppy’s down, make them cry and weep for mercy! I have done so in my version of Hormonal Cliffs notes- YAY! Remember I went to ASU. I am ALL about big bad Cliff and his notes!
I took these notes from Robb Wolf’s book:
The Paleo Solution; The Original Human Diet
They control hunger. They are the messengers that communicate info throughout the body. How we age, burn fat, think and reproduce are controlled by hormones.
Regulating blood sugar, body fat, and aging. Important to keep it on the low side by controlling carbs and lifestyle
It acts as a nutrient storage hormone that maintains blood glucose levels. Simply it puts nutrients into our cells. It plays a key role in staggering number of critical processes completely unrelated to blood sugar.
It is also relevant in fat and protein storage. It is released from the beta cells of the pancreas primarily in response to increasing blood levels of glucose and amino acids. It plays a significant role in micronutrient storage and conversions. Its primary role is as a nutrient sensor- when you ingest food it tells those nutrients where to be stored.
Normalizes blood sugar and energy between meals by releasing energy from the liver and allows us to better access our body fat for energy. It is the counter hormone to insulin and prompts the release of glucose from the liver as well as free fatty acids from fat stores by a process called lipolysis. Secretion is stimulated by decreased blood glucose levels (hunger) increased amino acid levels and the hormone CCK (cholecystokinin). High levels of insulin, free fatty acids, ketone bodies or urea in the bloodstream will inhibit glucagon release. Insulin and Glucagon play a complementary roles of helping us manage energy levels by storing and releasing nutrients at the right time. Insulin facilitates the passage of nutrients into cells while glucagon tends to release stored nutrients to be released for energy.
BLOOD GLUCOSE LEVELS:
Red blood cells in brain can run on no other fuel besides glucose. Blood sugar levels can fall and rise to range from dizziness and hunger to unconsciousness and death. So eat lots of carbs right? NO. We are better served if we can encourage the body to run on fat and provide just enough carb to meet the need of the truly glucose dependent tissues. By reducing the need for carbs we protect ourselves from blood sugar crashes.
Tells our body how much fuel we have in storage and when we are ‘full”. When leptin begins to break down and no longer work it is the beginning of problems ranging from cancer to accelerated aging and neurological degeneration. It is produced by fat cells as well as cells in the lining of the stomach.
Tells us when we are hungry or low on energy. Stress and lack of sleep can alter the effectiveness of it. It is also produced in the hypothalamic arcuate nucleus, where it stimulates the secretion of growth hormone. Inadequate sleep is associated with high levels of Ghrelin, increases in Ghrelin causes increases in appetite.
Tells us when we have had enough food and protects our arteries from oxidative damage. It is a protein hormone that decreases glugoneogenesis (conversion of protein into glucose) increases glucose uptake and protects from endothelial dysfunction (atherosclerosis). It is inversely correlated with % body fat. The lower the body fat the higher the adiponectin. It is a independent risk factor for metabolic syndrome and plays a role in the metabolic derangement’s that may result in type 2 diabetes, obesity, atherosclerosis and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
Another hormone telling us to stop eating. Protein and fat release a lot of PYY and thus are very satisfying. Carbohydrate has very little PYY – why you are ravenous after a few hours of eating them.
Raises blood sugar levels, witch can cause fat gain. It can be released from stress and lack of sleep to body fat gain, spare tire central. It shouldn’t be feared because it is a crucial anti-inflamatory. Just don’t want too much. It increases blood pressure and acts as an anti-inflammatory by lowering the activity of the immune system. It will trigger the breakdown of muscle mass by converting protein (amino acids) into glucose via gluconeogenesis. It decreases insulin sensitivity, lowers rate of bone formation, and causes a loss of collagen in the skin and other connective tissues.
INSULIN LIKE GROWTH FACTOR 1 (IGF-1)
Another one we want just the right amount of. It aids in physical recovery, poor diet can abnormally raise levels which in turn increases both our likelihood for cancer and rate of aging. Critical to growth of children and has anabolic effect in adults. Low IGF-1 promotes cell maintenance and stress resistance. They are highest during pubescent growth spurts. Increased levels stimulate growth and aging.
JERKS! Why do they have to be so confusing and SO COMPLICATED? If that isn’t enough information to make you go into hormonal rage than you indeed have control over your body and I commend you for making it this far!
Getting all this dialed in to my personal health journey is the next step. I try to be as natural as they come regarding my diet and supplement program. I truly try to use only the food I ingest for all my medicinal needs and supplemental needs, of course there are a few supplements I have to take, those are a conversation for another time.
For this post I solicited the help of a very good friend of mine Abel Aragon. Abel is a body builder here in the Phoenix area. He won 1st place in the open heavyweight class at the 2012 NPC Arizona Natural. Abel is very knowledgeable obviously about achieving muscle growth by using natural hormones along with supplements. He also eats grains and dairy. I challenged him to help me out with a Paleo prescription for maintaining muscle and avoiding supplements using only food at all costs. He delivered, as always with a solid performance. Here is a photo from the winning day for you muscle lovers.
When I started this conversation with him almost immediately he deduced and on the fly and mentioned those 8 essential fatty acids and 8 essential amino acids as a crucial part of my diet. Did you hear that? FAT is my FRIEND! YAY. Bring on the bacon and coconut butter! In the article link below (thanks again Abel for the info) one of the first things it says after mentioning the ESSENTIAL needs we have:
“There are no essential carbohydrates, it seems the carbohydrates we really need supply us with the minerals and vitamins to support healthy cellular processes within us”
In other words, your body is capable of making these carbohydrates you need within your own systems! BINGO!!! This read really breaks this down well:
So back to Abel and his personalized plan for me. According to my BMI of 21.3 and waist to height ratio of 38, hip to waist ratio of .75:
If you want to calculate yours here is the lowdown:
I am 5’7″ and some change. 140lbs. Size 26 jeans, x-small shirts, size 2 in everything else.
I have posted my weightlifting routine’s and stats in the recent post “At Least They Are TRYING” if you are curious. The stronger I get, the leaner and smaller my body has become. I LOVE muscle. I want to build more lean mass and keep it.
As much as I am in awe of my friend Abel and many of the other top bodybuilders out there I am also very different in my goals. Taking this into account along with my Paleo lifestyle this is a great calculation for my daily needs so that I don’t self cannibalize and use my hard earned muscle for fuel.
From looking at the notes we took above about Cortisol, stress along with lack of sleep can chew away at all that time you spend putting on the muscle.
Pop quiz: Can you remember what hormone increases with lack of sleep causing your appetite to increase too? This is an open blog quiz don’t roll your eyes at me!
Another great tip that Abel has given me brings in the prominent growth hormone Insulin. It’s function is to put nutrients back into your cells, not to burn it. That is the role of Glucogen, allowing us to tap into our fat resources for energy. Immediately after a lifting workout IMMEDIATELY I ingest 35g of sugar. Since I only eat natural forms of sugar I choose either raisins or honey. I keep a box of them with me in every gym bag I own.
Since I am always looking to increase my lean muscle mass I work my legs like a mule carrying loads up the Grand Canyon on a weekly basis. Where I have some room to grow (har har) is my back muscles and this is what Abel suggests I start to focus on more. He is currently writing me a back weight routine. I will get some before and after photos and follow up in 6 weeks or so.
This is muscle man Abel on his winning day showing off the back shred. Really amazing. I have witnessed the discipline and commitment it takes to achieve this. Athletes from any walk of life appreciate what it takes to make this happen.
OK… so I am on track. I have the grass fed non hormone injected meats in my fridge for my protein. A solid plan of incorporating fats and fiber. What about CARBS for a Paleo athlete? That is a pretty large load of fruits and veggies, as a matter of fact Abel left me on my own for this portion since that is not his wheelhouse.
I am not a Holstein nor do I want to sound like one! This link provides a great list of things you can use to carb-load on a Paleo plan getting the best bang for your buck to prepare for a long workout or competition:
I am thrilled to have a daily plan to follow for my goals. Thus far I have been drowning in information and just knowing that I have been eating the right things has been working so well. I am stoked to see how narrowing it down even further will turn me into that summit climbing monster- with some serious shred helping power me the whole way up.
BIG THANKS to my studly friend Abel for his continued support and expertise. We are lucky when we find people in this life that are more than willing to offer up help and experience.
I have seen so many situations where people think it takes away from their own needs and goals by helping others succeed. It is actually the exact opposite.
Another extremely important supporter in my life, my best friend posted this a few days ago. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Now I am getting ALL hormonal and sentimental! Love you guys hahaha!!!!
I am not a dietitian, nutritionist, or certified trainer. I am a normal, smart, professional Woman who is also an athlete. I was diagnosed with a very serious case of diverticulitis and within moments almost lost 60% of my G.I. tract due to it. Once in recovery to avoid surgery going forward I did a tremendous amount of research and adopted a Paleo lifestyle. The results I have personally seen and felt are worth sharing. I am fortunate to have a network of professional athletes from many walks of life, nutritionists, trainers and other medical professionals to learn from. I am sharing my personal journey for those of you who experience similar types of health issues or are simply interested in the information I gather. I hope it encourages you and points you in the right direction to research further for your own personal well being. For those of you who are looking to share in my relentless hiking passion, or those who simply enjoy learning about the things I come across I am happy to have you all along on this incredible ride!