Let’s talk about the most crucial principles of how hormones work in the human body. The most important ones for us are hormones on which depend healthy weight.
I’m not going to rewrite information from physiology textbooks and the scientific works of hundreds of academics here. If you want to dig into the intricacies of the complex science of endocrinology, books and Wikipedia are at your service.
I shall concentrate your attention only on the most vital hormones from a practical point of view. Besides, there is no need for all hormones (over a hundred known) – let’s talk about key ones.
Synergistic And Antagonistic Hormones
Before talking about specific hormones, you must be familiar with two terms – synergism and antagonism.
Synergism is a mutual reinforcement. It is a phenomenon in which one hormone magnifies the action of another hormone. For example, insulin significantly enhances the effect of growth hormone on protein metabolism. That is extremely important for muscle growth! If there is not much insulin, the growth hormone slows down.
Antagonism is a mutual weakening. When two antagonist hormones act simultaneously, they have minimized effects on the body (at least one of them). That is, the antagonist hormones act in opposite directions. For example, insulin lowers blood glucose levels, while its antagonist glucagon, on the contrary, increases blood glucose levels.
Which of the hormones will be the winner in this competition depends not only on their quantity but also on the sensitivity of the cells to each of them. The sensitivity of cells to a given hormone can be increased by synergistic hormones or decreased by antagonistic hormones.
As you can see, it’s quite complicated and confusing. But don’t be frightened. There is a way out!
Hormones Activity Pattern
The quantity of some vital hormones in the blood changes according to a specific pattern throughout the day. There is also evidence of monthly fluctuations in the concentration of hormones in the blood.
One of the most studied is the diurnal cycle of cortisol. The highest cortisol (the chief catabolic hormone) levels are observed early in the morning (at 6-8 am) and during lengthy intensive physical activity.
Negative feedback is the principal mechanism by which the endocrine system maintains homeostasis. Let’s take this example: when the plasma glucose level is high, the pancreas releases insulin.
It increases glucose uptake by cells, resulting in a decrease in blood glucose level. When plasma glucose level returns to normal, insulin release is inhibited until glucose level rise again.
So, the negative feedback mechanism works like a fridge: as soon as the temperature in it becomes higher than needed, it turns on to cool down the air in the chamber until it reaches the desired temperature.
As you exercise more and more, the amount of hormones required for a particular process decreases. The endocrine system adapts by increasing the efficiency of its work. Therefore, the more trained your body is, the fewer resources your body needs to stay in good shape. That’s why it’s so hard to start to exercise and keep achieved results. That is where you need a certain amount of consistency.
Competitive Metabolic Processes
There are thousands of different biochemical reactions going on simultaneously in the body. Many of them use the same sources of energy and substances. Those reactions prevail that are more energy beneficial for the body. And this benefit does not always mean weight loss.
That’s why it’s crucial to create body conditions in which the reactions you need predominate. First of all, these are reactions that use fatty acids (fat consists of these acids) as an energy source.
For example, during cardio training, the first thing that gets wasted is the energy of carbohydrates stored in the liver in glycogen form. It is energetically beneficial for the body, but if your goal is to lose weight, this is not good for you.
You need to change it, but how?
Mobilization Of Fat
To make the body start using fat reserves for energy, you need to get that fat into the bloodstream in fatty acids form. So, it becomes available to the muscle cells. Some hormones (somatotropin, adrenaline, noradrenaline, cortisol) help remove fatty acids from fat cells. This process is called the mobilization of fat.
And how to increase hormones quantity in the blood? Through intensive strength training!
With strength training (and some other very useful methods – interval training, circuit training, combined exercises), you can influence energy production processes in the body, aiming them to use fats. Only then will cardio workouts become an effective way to burn fat.
Hormones Nature Contradictions
As you know, science does not stand still – discoveries and breakthroughs in knowledge occur all the time. What was obvious yesterday is not so clear and understandable today.
Our knowledge of human physiology and, in particular, of hormones is still insufficient. Hence all these contradictions of illogical nature. And no one can say for sure (even endocrinologists and professional sports doctors) what this or that hormone does in the body and how it affects some processes.
Don’t be surprised at some of the contradictory and incomplete information we now have. The science is still developing, and there are a lot of questions without answers.
For example, I recently read an article stating that endocrine glands are not the only organs producing hormones. Scientists discovered that almost any part of the body can produce hormones, and there is a strong need to revise data on the endocrine system after that discovery.
Still, this inconsistency does not prevent us from knowingly (as much as possible) creating a healthy weight loss program.