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Hormone Hacks for Optimizing Wellness


Written by Dr. Chris Smith, Updated on July 29th, 2020
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Ghrelin and Leptin – The Hunger Hormones

The hormones Leptin and Ghrelin are the key hormones that control hunger. Ghrelin triggers feelings of appetite, and Leptin is responsible for making you feel full. Leptin is released by fat cells—the more you weigh, the more you'll eat before Leptin response sets in.

Reduce Ghrelin's activity by eating plenty of protein. Thirty grams of protein should be plenty to get your Ghrelin-response under control. Eating plenty of protein also appears to make the brain more sensitive to Leptin, making you feel full faster over time.

Cortisol – The Stress Hormone

Cortisol is the body's most potent stress hormone. While Cortisol provides many benefits, chronic stress drains the body of resources. Cortisol gets the body ready for immediate action. When the body is too activated, it stops taking care of itself adequately.

Too much stress elevates Cortisol, which leads to loss of muscle mass and increased body fat. Our bodies are designed to have relatively high cortisol levels in the morning that slowly diminish until time for bed. By making efforts to de-stress and avoid overstimulation at night, you can keep your cortisol levels in check.

Human Growth Hormone and IGF-1 – The Engines of Cellular Metabolism

While HGH is most active during the rapid growth of puberty, our bodies rely on Human Growth Hormone to control cellular metabolism throughout our lives. IGF-1 is an important metabolite of HGH. These hormones are responsible for cracking open the energy stored in fat cells for use by the muscles and body.

These hormones are most active at night. They are also highly active during exercise and during times of fasting. Eat dinner early and stop eating at all at least two hours before bed, so your body maximizes HGH Production at night. Consider Intermittent Fasting.

Insulin – The Sugar Control System

Insulin helps the body modulate blood sugar and store body fat. Insulin stores fat, and HGH breaks fat down. It's essential to protect against insulin resistance, which is caused by overeating and eating the wrong foods. Processed carbohydrates like sugar, white rice, and white flour are the prime culprits of Insulin Resistance and Diabetes, both of which are tightly correlated with weight gain and dangerous chronic illnesses.

You don't have to forgo carbs altogether, though! Your body works best when it has carbs available for energy. You should avoid simple carbohydrates and eat complex carbs that the body has to take time to digest and break down. Some great examples are carrots, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, squash, and beans.

Thyroid Hormones (T3/T4) – Baseline Metabolism Regulators

The thyroid gland is responsible for controlling basal metabolism. The organ is located just below the Adam's apple and produces T3 and T4. These hormones help the body burn energy even when at rest, and are sensitive to deficiencies of Iodine and Selenium.

Most people get plenty of Iodine via fortified salt in their diets, but many people don't get enough Selenium in their diets. By getting at least 200 mg of Selenium per day, you make sure your body has the nutrients to keep the Thyroid humming along. Excellent options are halibut, tuna, and Brazil nuts.

Irisin – The Lean Muscle Converter

Irisin is a newly discovered hormone that is responsible for maintaining brown fat (which is meant for rapid utilization and burns calories quickly) and limiting white fat (which is stubborn and bad for metabolism). High-Intensity Interval Training is great for encouraging an increase in brown fat volume, which will help you stay leaner and have more energy.

Testosterone – The Key to Virility

For men, Testosterone is integral to ward off fat. Testosterone helps keep men lean by encouraging the buildup of muscle mass. When Testosterone Levels fall, body fat percentage tends to increase. There are lots of ways to maintain healthy Testosterone Levels—Eat more protein and fewer carbs. Work out regularly. Limit alcohol. Get more sleep—and get checked for sleep apnea!

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