Today we take a look at two hormones associated with the leaner look.
Growth hormone is a crucial hormone that, amongst other numerous roles, keeps you lean and energised. When it drops too low you may feel prematurely older or frail before your time. Perhaps even note a drop in brain power. High levels of growth factor are also an issue, but not usually seen in peri-menopausal/menopausal women. Like every hormone, it needs to be in balance and nutrition also plays an important role in driving growth hormone production.
Growth hormone is central to maintaining a “leaner look”. Production peaks in early adult hood and declines by 1-3% per year after the age of 30. A drop seems to be faster with stressed females who may notice the telltale signs of droopy abdomen and loss of muscle tone.
When the body is balanced, growth hormone with work harmoniously with other hormones, cortisol and adrenaline to BURN fat and BUILD muscle.
IGF-1 is a proxy test for growth hormone. IGF-1 is a growth factor produced by the liver when stimulated by a rise in growth hormone.
Intense and short exercise bursts such as box jumps, springs, burpees, break down glucose without using oxygen for energy (anaerobic activity) and in this process produce growth hormone as a result.
Here are 5 steps to help boost growth hormone:
- Eat healthy proteins and fat sources and avoid saturated fats
- Fast as much as possible
- Exercise (including short bursts)
- Reduce alcohol intake
- Sleep – preferably early. Growth hormone production peaks early in the sleep cycle and if we miss it, there is less for growth and repair.
Testosterone is an important ally to remaining lean if levels are balance. Many doctors don´t think about testosterone as a cause of many of their complaints, yet the biggest drop in T is between the ages of 20 and 40 with a decline of 1-2% per year.
50% of our testosterone comes from conversion of DHEA and androstenedione in the skin and fat tissue. 25% from the adrenal glands and 25% from ovaries. By menopause, testosterone levels are at half the peak level, mostly due to the impact upon our adrenal glands and loss of production.
Even though our ovaries stop producing oestradiol, they continue to make testosterone. For this reason sometimes, high testosterone can also occur. This is with PCOS (polycystic ovaries OR menopause. Insulin Resistance is a common symptom of PCOs, but also with menopause as cells become more desensitised. Insulin resistance or high insulin can stimulate ovarian cells to make more testosterone.
Signs of low testosterone:
- Feeling more fragile, lower resistance to stress, premature hair loss on the head at the temples, more hunched over posture, feel depressed and/or passive, thinning body hair under arms and pubic area, loss in height.
Foods associated with LOW testosterone:
- Bread, both refined and whole grain
- Pastries and all similar foods made with flour
- Sugar sweetened beverages
- Diet beverages
What to do?
- Lift weights and increase muscle mass.
- Eat whole foods, dark green vegetables, certain herbs such as fenugreek, tribulus and ginkgo biloba may improve levels and increase sex drive.
- Focus upon detoxification pathways and removal of endocrine disruptors.
There’s a bi-directional relationship between high testosterone (T) and insulin resistance. High insulin = high T, and high T = high insulin. Androgens, insulin resistance, and weight gain. And all of it can lead to weight gain, acne, facial hair, irregular periods, and a long-term risk of diabetes.
There are two parts to the solution: 1) reverse insulin resistance and 2) lower androgens, which, in turn, can improve insulin resistance.
Menopausal hormone therapy (oestrogen and progesterone) can have a beneficial anti-androgen effect and improve insulin sensitivity.
For example, oestrogen therapy directly improves insulin sensitivity and lowers testosterone by increasing sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG), the protein that binds and inactivates testosterone. Progesterone indirectly improves insulin sensitivity by stimulating metabolic rate and lowering testosterone.
Taking testosterone or androgenic progestins can increase insulin resistance and promote weight gain.
Magnesium deficiency is a contributor to insulin resistance and taking magnesium can help reduce IR.
Magnesium has many nice side benefits including regulating the HPA (adrenal) axis, improving sleep, supporting progesterone, curbing sugar cravings, and reducing inflammation. It combines well with taurine and amino acid that helps regulate insulin.
MAINTAIN A HEALTHY CIRCADIAN RHYTHM AND SLEEP
Circadian rhythm or body clock has a profound effect on glucose metabolism, and whole-body insulin sensitivity and dysregulation of circadian rhythm contributes to insulin resistance. The best way to support circadian rhythm is to maintain regular diurnal patterns of eating and light exposure such as protein and bright light in the morning followed by rest and dim light in the evening.
Maintaining a healthy circadian rhythm can also promote better sleep — another important strategy for maintaining healthy levels of insulin.
MOVE YOUR BODY
Exercise or movement improves insulin sensitivity in muscles by increasing the number of mitochondria, which as you now know are the powerhouses of the cell and turn food into energy. Building healthy muscle also requires sufficient dietary protein.
Tip: Hormonal birth control can impair muscle gain and causes insulin resistance particularly birth control with a high androgen index.