Knowing how to manage your hormones can really make or break your bodybuilding progress. Instead of being your worst enemy, your hormonal activity can help you achieve greater gains and increase leanness. In reality, getting ripped is all about keeping your hormones well balanced while limiting your calorie intake. And knowing how to manipulate your hormones will increase the effectiveness of your diet.
Hormones are the regulatory biochemicals produced by our endocrine glands, whose job is to coordinate the behavior of our cells, controlling everything from appetite to the choices we make in dangerous situations. Hormonal disbalance can be a cause for a slow metabolic rate, low levels of energy, inefficient protein synthesis, stalled muscle building progress and inability to recover properly.
In addition, these hard-working biological agents play an important role in both the storage and utilization of excess body fat. Therefore, understanding them is crucial to our gym efforts. We are not helpless victims of their way of working – we can to some degree control the activity of our hormones to optimize their effects on our health and training goals.
This article will provide you with the basic guideline for safely switching your hormonal activity into maximum fat-burning mode and building your physique to the next level. Let’s get started!
Testosterone is the most important hormone when it comes to building muscle size and strength, while it’s also essential for maintaining good health. Lower testosterone levels will cause a sluggish metabolic rate and interfere with the production of growth hormone and the burning of fat. In short, if you want greater gains, you have to keep your testosterone levels high as long as possible. It is known that restricted calorie intake causes testosterone levels to drop, so you should avoid fasting and extreme dieting at all costs.
However, there are some things you can do to prevent declines in testosterone while being on a low calorie diet. For example, eliminating fats is a bad option when you’re in the cutting phase since it lowers testosterone levels – instead, increase your intake of healthy fats atleast on two days per week, while keeping the carbs under control.
Another useful trick is to increase your carb intake to 3 grams per pound of bodyweight once a week. This will boost your insulin levels, which in turn will help the testosterone reach the tissues and stimulate growth a lot easier. In addition, emphasizing resistance training and periodically training with heavy weights for lower reps can also help your testosterone levels stay up.
2. Growth hormone
The growth hormone has many important roles in the organism, many of which are directly linked to your bodybuilding efforts. Among other things, it stimulates cell reproduction, boosts protein synthesis, increases fat burning and prevents muscle loss. The last thing you need when you’re dieting is losing lean muscle along with the excess body fat, which would result with a decreased metabolic rate and a decline in fat burning.
Since the growth hormone is crucial for maintaining your muscle mass while cutting on calories, make sure to enhance its production by getting at least 8 hours of sleep each night, training regularly and supplementing with niacin, arginine and Mucuna pruriens. Take 5-6 grams of arginine and 200-400 milligrams of Mucuna pruriens right before training to raise your growth hormone levels and stimulate blood flow to muscles.
Insulin is kind of a double agent, responsible both for encouraging the storage of body fat and supporting the anabolic environment crucial for muscle growth. This makes it very important to strategically manage your insulin production according to your activity.
Lower insulin levels at rest will enable you to burn more fat, while elevated levels during the workout will enhance muscle growth by promoting rapid uptake of amino acids and glycogen into the muscle cells. So in order to make the best use of insulin, keep your carbs low most of the day but make sure to eat around 50 grams of carbs before training and 60 grams right after it. During the rest of the day, minimize fat storage by minimizing your intake of carbs.
4. Thyroid hormones
The thyroid gland is one of the most important glands in our body, responsible for secreting hormones that control weight management, metabolic processes and sleep patterns. Among other things, the thyroid hormones triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) provide crucial support to the processes of protein synthesis and fat burning. The thyroid gland needs specific vitamins and minerals in order to function properly, and prolonged hardcore dieting causes a decline in thyroid hormones, resulting with a reduction in protein synthesis and metabolism.
To prevent low thyroid hormone levels, make sure to consume foods that are rich in zinc and iron as well as foods rich in iodine such as eggs, cow’s milk, saltwater fish and shellfish. Selenium is another important nutrient that maintains the health of the thyroid gland by helping regulate hormone synthesis. Also, include cheat days in your diet (once every 10 days) on which you’ll increase your carb and fat consumption in order to prevent the body from adjusting to constant low calorie intake, thereby keeping your metabolism running smooth.
While it’s true that moderately high levels of the stress hormone cortisol help you burn fat, an overproduction of cortisol can have many negative effects on the body and mind, including stimulating the destruction of immune cells, increasing muscle loss, fat gain and fatigue and negatively affecting our emotional well-being.
In addition, chronically elevated levels of cortisol make our bodies more vulnerable to chronic illnesses like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Therefore, preventing the accumulation of cortisol is vital to maintaining a healthy organism and supporting your bodybuilding progress. To keep your cortisol levels under control you should minimize stress, reduce caffeine intake and get enough enough sleep every night.
Furthermore, twice a week consume a high amount of foods containing simple, fast-burning sugars after your workout in order to utilize the positive effects of post training insulin spikes on cortisol levels. Finally, taking stress-reducing supplements such as antioxidants, magnesium, calcium and zinc can help you keep cortisol levels from rising.