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Hormones: The Ones You Have and How They Affect Your Performance

There are exactly 50 different hormones that the body is able to produce on its own. These hormones are what control and regulate many of the biological processes in the body and are what make us thrive and work. Biological men and women will naturally produce different amounts of hormones that create the noticeable differences we see today. Some, like dopamine, keep us uplifted and motivated, while others, like adrenaline, can really give our system a kick when we truly need it.

How hormones affect your performance

A deficiency in certain hormones can cause problems both mentally and physically, and the same goes for if you have too big a surplus.

So, what are the big ones you need to know when it comes to athletic performance? Well I’ll give you a rundown so you can have further detail on how your body works, because that is the only way to truly know how to improve it.

Before you can know the hormones, you need to know the types that exist. There are three in total. They are steroid hormones, peptide hormones, and amino acid derivative hormones. I’ll explain them as we go along and I list the specifics.


Steroid Hormones

Steroid Hormones - Example Testosterone

Synthesized in the mitochondria and the smooth endoplasmic reticulum of the gonads, placenta, and adrenal cortex. These are derived from cholesterol and are released as soon as they are made, but are still able to bind with other molecules to be inactive.

Steroid hormones are of course different from injectable steroids or legal natural steroids that are used for bulking.

Steroid hormones include:

  • Vitamin D. Yes, this is a hormone and not actually a vitamin. It’s synthesized when ultraviolet light (our main source being sunlight) hits our skin. It’s a fat-soluble hormone that regulates the amount of calcium and fat in our bodies. Other things it deals with include regulating glucose metabolism, cell growth, neuromuscular function, immune function, and reducing inflammation.
  • Testosterone. The big one. It’s a sex hormone that makes men, well, men. It works with protein synthesis, it works fast to promote muscle growth, increasing strength/power, and keeps up our bone density. On a less physical level, it also has a hand in decision-making and drives up your motivation and mood. Because it’s so integral in who we are, you may want to follow it, and because we’re all built differently, there is no definitive level of testosterone every male should have. Understand what your peak levels are (usually between 7 am and 11 am) and try to maintain that.
  • Cortisol. The stress hormone, relating to both the physical and the mental. While they don’t really increase athletic performance, too much cortisol can have a drastic effect on it, including both breaking down muscles and stalling their repair. If you are chronically stressed, either physically or mentally, this will cause a problem.
  • Estrogen. Even though it’s considered the female sex hormone, it’s still produced by men. It’s actually testosterone that has been converted. They help reduce muscle damage, break down your fat for fuel, support your bone health, regulate inflammation, and last but certainly not least, prevent erectile dysfunction. If you ever hear one of your uneducated gym buddies that estrogen levels is something only women should be concerned about (something I hear too often), let them know that estrogen might just be their new best friend.


Peptide Hormones

Peptide Hormones - Example Insulin

These are hormones that are not yet in their active form and need to be further processed. They’re usually stored in an inactive state within vesicles in cells and can also travel freely through your blood.

Peptide hormones include:

  • Growth hormone. You’ve no doubt heard about this if you consider yourself knowledgeable on fitness and its trends. It’s mainly known for enhancing muscle recovery, connective tissue growth, bone growth, and enhanced strength. It has also been used for weight management due to its ability to regulate fat metabolism. Dueto all this, it’s considered a performance enhancing drug and is thus banned from all athletic competitions. While it’s good for you to have a steady amount, too much can lead to serious health problems, or worse: HGH gut.
  • Insulin. This regulates glucose metabolism and has a role in energy production when exercising, as well as aiding in muscle recovery and adapting to training. AKA, it’s essential to your performance. A high insulin tolerance will severely impair your performance, which is usually brought about by a diet full of sugar.


Amino Acid Derivative Hormones

Amino Acid Derivative Hormones

All of these hormones are synthesized from one amino acid: tyrosine. They’re stored before they’re released.

Amino acid derivative hormones include just three, but they all intertwine, so I’m lumping them onto one. These are the thyroid hormones T3, T4, and RT3.

So thyroid hormones in general help regulate your metabolic rate and how you spend energy. T3 and T4 specifically help with your cardiovascular functions, strength, and body temperature. They also help with how efficiently your blood carries oxygen. Aerobic exercises require a lot of oxygen, so thyroid hormones are vital for upping your endurance.

RT3 is the inactive version of T3, which is why it’s called reverse T3. In other words, it does nothing. However, if there’s too much of them, it means that too much T3 is inactive and that you might have a thyroid dysfunction.


Final Thoughts

Getting to know these are great and all, but I’m sure some of you are asking how exactly we’re supposed to know our hormone levels and what to do about them? Well, I’d say the first thing to do is get a blood test.

I’d suggest getting it while your testosterone in particular is at peak levels before doing your blood test. Once your blood is taken and you have your results, you now have an idea of what you’re low or what’s fine.

Many supplements can help boost certain hormone production, so if you’re looking to improve your body on a molecular level, that’s a good way to start. Just remember that it all starts with the building blocks; your foundation. If that isn’t sturdy, the entire building will come crashing down.