How Do Your Hormones Work?

How does your body know you are hungry, thirsty or tired? It’s all through hormones. When we hear the word hormones, we immediately think about the menstrual cycle, testosterone or having bouts of adrenaline, however there is so much more to consider when talking about hormones.
 
Hormones are the chemical substances that control and coordinate activity around parts of the body. In short, they are messengers. The brain and the small intestine spark a response from a signal such as to contract a muscle or cause excess sweating etc..
 
When we workout though, the exercise causes our body to produce both anabolic and catabolic hormones which aid growth and development. These are the two hormones that we shall be discussing in this email.
 
Anabolic Hormones
 
Firstly, anabolic hormones aid protein synthesis and the growth of muscles. Our body produces these hormones naturally but the one that is most important is insulin. Insulin helps us to increase our physical performance by transporting glycogen and protein to the muscles that we have energised through our workouts. Alongside this, insulin carries amino acids which help to repair damaged muscle tissue. The final thing about insulin is that it works against catabolic hormones (which cause our muscle to tissue to breakdown), by causing our blood flow to increase. This is the reason why it is important to fuel our body with fast digesting carbohydrates and protein prior to our workout to ensure that we get the full benefit of insulin during our workout.
 
Catabolic Hormones
 
Catabolic hormones cause the breakdown of our muscle. The most important catabolic hormones are cortisol and epinephrine which is more formerly known as adrenaline.
 
Cortisol is our stress hormone that breaks down the protein in our muscles causing muscle fatigue. Epinephrine causes elevated heart rates. Both of these hormones are valuable but only in small quantities. They both allow our bodies to escape from situations that require immediate action by drawing energy from whatever source it can find and by shutting off non-essential bodily functions such as digestion in order to boost functions that are needed for the current situation (such as elevation of heart rate etc.).
 
If you have high levels of cortisol and adrenaline release, this will eventually lead to an energy loss in other bodily systems which inhibit the body’s ability to intake nutrients properly and recover appropriately.
 
The End Game
 
There are other anabolic and catabolic hormones that can be analysed such as testosterone, norepinephrine etc. but the ones listed above are the crucial hormones that are worth being aware of.

The combination of the bodies energy systems and increases in hormone release before, during and after exercise produces changes in our body that all have a huge implication for our physical performance and progress. We need to be clever about providing our body with the right fuel and also ensure we get a sufficient amount of rest and recovery to ensure that our anabolic and catabolic hormones function at their greatest so we can make those gains.