Hack Your Hormones
Balance Your Way to Bliss
You can balance your body chemistry in order to achieve better sleep, burn more fat, and boost your energy levels! Think of your body as multinational company. There are layers of management, countless systems that must work together seamlessly and myriad goals that occasionally conflict. In other words, your body is conflicted. Thankfully, you don’t have to think about it, because your hormones do the heavy lifting, from helping you sleep at night to deciding whether a particular kilojoule should be converted into fat or muscle. The best part; you can learn to control them. And when you do, you’ll look and feel better every day.
“ If your hormones aren’t working FOR you, they’re working AGAINST you.”
Metabolism Boosters: Thyroid Hormones
The thyroid, a bat-shaped gland in your neck, churns out the hormones T3 and T4, which travel throughout your body, telling each cell how much energy to produce and expend. That determines your basal metabolic rate—how many calories you burn before factoring in daily activities and exercise.
How to Control Thyroid Hormones: Dine on Iodine
Keep the gland healthy by consuming about 150 micrograms of dietary iodine a day. The mineral is essential for your body’s T3 and T4 production. Saltwater seafood, dairy, and eggs are all good sources.
Muscle Builders: IGF-1 and HGH
Maybe you’ve heard rumors of pro athletes and bodybuilders using illegal injections of human growth hormone (HGH, also called somatotropin). HGH triggers the production of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1). Together these two hormones break down fat and use the energy to strengthen muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Your body makes HGH naturally, but shortly after you reach the age of 20, your levels begin to drop by 15 percent or so each decade.
How to Control IGF-1 and HGH: Go For the Burn To naturally spike HGH, work to the point of fatigue. Use the heaviest weights you can manage for 3 or 4 sets of 8 to 12 reps. Between sets, limit your rest to no more than 60 seconds. “ If you feel a burn in your muscles, you’re doing it right,” That means your body chemistry is becoming slightly acidic, which ups HGH production.
Energy Importer: Insulin
Insulin is responsible for moving fat and sugar from your bloodstream to your fat and muscle cells for storage. So the goal, generally speaking, is to keep your insulin- sugar levels balanced. But an insulin spike can help you immediately after a tough workout, when the hormone provides a muscle-building window. It delivers more sugars right to your muscles. That’s good: Your body uses this sugar, called glycogen, to keep you energized and fuel your strength.
How to Control Insulin: Eat Carbs After Your Workout
A University of Oklahoma review found that the ideal post workout carb intake was about half a gram per pound of body mass. For a 180-pound guy, that’s about 90 grams—or a large potato and a cup of corn.
Throw some protein on that plate too. It will help with muscle protein synthesis, says Javier Gonzalez, Ph.D., of the University of Bath.