Finally! How Do Hormones Really Affect Fat?
There are a hundred million cars on the roads in the United States. Traffic generally moves along very well, as long as everyone obeys the rules. Signs on the side of the road tell us what to do in specific situations so there are few accidents and we all can get to our destinations.
We have over a hundred trillion cells in our body, and each is a separate entity. What makes the body work is every one of those cells working together, they all follow the directions given to them. They get these directions from hormones. Hormones are signaling chemicals that communicate what is going on in the body. There are thousands of hormones, many of which have multiple functions, so I’m not going to talk about all of them. I’m going to focus on those hormones that affect the metabolism, or energy production. Some of these you have surely heard about:
- Human Growth Hormone (HGH)
Adrenal hormones come from two little glands situated on top of each kidney. Although small, these glands are very important. They give us our sleep-wake cycles and keep everything in line with the metabolism. They get you started in the morning and put you down at night. They also have a lot to do with fat storage. Cortisol is the major metabolic hormone from the adrenal glands. The effects of this hormone on fat include:
- Long-term elevations of cortisol
- Cortisol coupled with insulin
- Rapid/short elevations of cortisol
- Cortisol coupled with adrenaline or HGH
Stress causes us to make more of this hormone. Positive stress can help build muscle and decrease fat by being coupled with HGH. Negative stress, or long-term stress, coupled with insulin causes a loss of muscle and increase in fat. If you think about it, the very things people do when they are stressed may worsen their situation. Cortisol causes us to crave sugar and starch, which increase insulin, causing more gain of fat. So, eating chocolate when stressed is exactly the wrong thing to do – if you don’t want to gain weight.
Positive stress increases the good effects of cortisol on fat. Positive stress is when you are in control of the stress you have, such as:
- Helping others
- Writing a book
- Starting a business
- Raising a family
Whenever we are improving, we are stressed. That’s why life is hard. However, when we choose our stress, accept it, and love it, we are in positive stress mode. That increases our growth hormones and we actually build our bodies and reduce fat storage. Negative stress is when we don’t choose, when the choice is forced on us from the outside, and we feel loss, depressed, or trapped.
Negative stress changes the effects of cortisol, these include:
- Trauma or injury
- Death of a loved-one
- Dead-end job
- Lack of money
If you are in control, even things that would be negative stressors can turn positive. Taking time for meditation, prayer, sleep, and a hobby help keep you in control.
It’s also important to have a regular sleep time to help manage cortisol and improve the ratios of adrenal hormones. Go to bed at 10:00pm and get up around 6:00am. Such a schedule works with your natural circadian rhythm created by cortisol release.
Supplements and herbs that can help are the “adaptogens.” Ginseng has been around for centuries and can be found in many forms including pills, teas, and drinks. One of the best-studied herbs is ashwagandha, which helps the glands adapt to stress. There are other herbs that may be helpful as well. Take these according to the label, as the dose depends on the preparation. One other useful stress-reliever is phosphatidylserine (PS), which lowers the cortisol during stress.