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Sleep

Your lack of sleep may be disrupting your hormones

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Knowing how things work and the impacts they have in our body help us live a better life and achieve our goals in a simple way.

Nowadays sleep is one of our least priorities, if we want to lose weight we focus on diet and exercise and even when we know sleep is important we don´t give it the attention it deserves. Just one night of poor sleep will have negative consequences on your day and if this become chronic it can cause negative health problems.

Here we´ll talk about 5 hormones that are affected with just one night of poor sleep, this hormones are: cortisol, growth hormone, insulin, leptin and ghrelin.

Cortisol is the stress hormone, every time you are under stress your body releases cortisol to deal with that situation, your body needs more energy so it shuts down non essential functions for that period of time and glucose increases because it´s the preferred form of energy and you need energy in case you need to run or fight. Lack of sleep increases stress in your body so if you didn´t get enough good sleep cortisol will be high.

Growth hormone is the one that keeps you lean, it helps your cells use stored fat for energy and also repair and build muscle. Your body produces this hormone during sleep you need to get through all the phases of sleep for this hormone to get high. Lack of sleep keeps this hormone low making it easier for your body to store fat and even lose muscle tissue.

Insulin is known as the fat storage hormone, it takes insulin to the cells so it can be use as energy and it is triggered by carbohydrates, the higher insulin is the more fat you store and it´s also dangerous. Lack of sleep makes your body insulin resistant meaning that your body is not efficient using carbohydrates, your body needs to produce more insulin to get the same job done.

Leptin is the hormone that regulates appetite and it tells you when to stop eating by sending signals to your brain that you are full and that you have plenty of energy. Lack of sleep lowers leptin in your body so it can´t send signals to your brain that you are full so you keep eating.

Ghrelin also sends signals to your brain and tells you when you need to eat. Lack of sleep increases ghrelin so you are hungry all day. This is why your craving for sweets and unhealthy foods increases with just one night of poor sleep.

During sleep your brain is recharging so that you can learn, understand and memorize things with ease, lack of sleep affects your cognitive skills making it harder to retain new information, to react fast and make good decisions. Your attention and alertness lowers and you won´t be as creative as you can be.

Lack of sleep sends the wrong signals and trigger these hormones in the wrong way affecting not only your fitness goals but your health in general. One night of poor sleep will affect your day and you´ll see it in the short run symptoms like feeling tired, sleepy, lack of energy, hard to focus, cravings increase specially for sweets, being in a bad mood.

Chronic sleep problems can cause many physical and health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, depression, anxiety. It also makes your hormones go out of balance the internal clock of your body go nuts.

Changing habits is key for good quality sleep every night, some of the causes of bad sleep are chronic stress and blue light, if you are stressed your body won´t relax and your mind won´t stop making it almost impossible to fall asleep and get the adequate rest. Blue light is present in almost all screens of technology devices like computers, lap tops, cell phones, tv. Avoiding the use of this electronics before you go to bed help you sleep better and faster, meditation helps you relax and calm and release tension from your body and muscles.

In future post we´ll talk about each hormone separately to go deeper so you can have a better understanding, if there´s something in particular you want to know just let us know by leaving a comment down below and on Twitter, we´ll be glad to answer all your questions.

If you know someone who could benefit from this post please share it with them and don´t forget to follow us on Twitter.

Pam

Stress

Stress and hormones

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Chronic stress is toxic for our body and brain, we ask so much of our body when we don´t treat it the right way. How do we want it to function properly and to keep us healthy when we keep giving it toxins? From the food we eat, lack of sleep, lack of exercise and excessive amounts of stress.

I´ve mentioned before that chronic stress has a negative impact on our body and health, you can think about this type of stress as a toxin for your body and brain. Our body needs to be in balance, all hormones and system needs to be in sync if we want it to be at its best so that we can perform at our best. Chronic stress takes all hormones and systems of our body out of balance, it affects negatively the quality and quantity of sleep, it takes our gut out of balance, it can increase inflammation.

School and jobs can be really stressful, especially if you are bullied, if your classmates make fun of you, if your teachers don´t care about what´s happening and it´s worse when they don´t like your project and your work in general. We all spend too much time worrying, if we think about we all have a never ending list of things we can be worried about and they all makes us feel anxious and this leads to chronic stress.

We live in a very stressful world, we go through a lot of stressful situation during the day the problem is that this stressful situations are not life threatening, they are created by worries and anxiety, our mind is great at creating a whole scenario for every situation always presenting the worst outcome, the most negative results we can get and this triggers the stress response.

You may know by now that stress triggers a hormone called cortisol, it raises adrenaline when you have high levels of stress you have high levels of cortisol, when cortisol is elevated some systems stop working and other hormones get out of sync, it raises blood sugar, this how your body is supposed to react under stress to keep you alive.

One of the hormones that get out of sync is oxytocin. When cortisol is high oxytocin is low, oxytocin is the love hormone, it controls our behavior and interaction with other people. This may be one of the causes of relationship issues.

Lowering stress will not only improve your health, it may also improve your relationships so here are some steps you can take today to lower stress:

1.- Do not believe all negative thoughts that come to mind. Usually we tend to focus on the negative and think about the worse scenario so instead of focusing on the negative stay on the present moment and see the situation from a different perspective. Ask yourself what can go right and how can you achieve that positive outcome?

2.- Practice breathing exercises like mindful breathing and when you are under a stressful situation stop for a moment and take some deep breathes.

3.- Stop worrying about everything.

How you respond during stressful situations play a huge role on how they will impact you, having a more optimistic attitude and perspective is one way to keep stress low. Being in the present moment also helps it keeps you concentrated on reality on what´s really happening and avoid thinking about the future in a negative way. It´s about what´s really happening right now and what can you do to get a positive result. This is so hard to do because we´ve been surrounded by negativity so many years and we´ve let our mind take control, we´ve let our mind and body react instead of stopping and taking some time to breathe so that we are able to think consciously and make a better decision which lower stress in that moment and give you better results in the long run.

Let us know by leaving a comment down below and on Twitter if you have a long list of worries and if you let your mind react when you are under stress.

If you know someone who could benefit from this post please share it with them and don´t forget to follow us on Twitter.

Pam

Diet

Food and hormones – Ghrelin

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In the last diet post with talked about leptin and how this hormone is one of the reasons why is hard for you to lose fat and stay lean because you are not satisfied and you feel hungry. In today’s post we will talk about another important hormone that works together with leptin, this hormone is called ghrelin.

Ghrelin is the hormone that increases appetite, it tells us when we´re hungry and we need to eat which is the contrary of what leptin does. To keep it simple ghrelin is the hormone that makes us eat. This hormone can also be triggered by several factors and if we trigger it the wrong way it will cause so many problems and make it harder for us to lose weight and stay lean.

Some of our unhealthy habits are triggering this hormone the wrong way and one of them is lack of sleep or poor-quality sleep which increases ghrelin and this increases our appetite throughout the day and make us feel hungry so we tend to over eat.

Studies show that when people follow a weight loss program and reduce calories, ghrelin increases as a response of the body to protect us from starvation, the lower we go in calories the high this hormone goes and the longer we stay with the diet the higher this hormone goes.

So if ghrelin increases and leptin decreases it´s the best way to gain weight and it´s so hard to lose weight and stay lean, we need to keep ghrelin low and leptin high so that our brain gets the right message. We don´t feel hungry all day long and we know when it´s enough at every meal. There are some steps we can take to make this happens which are:

1.- Get enough good quality sleep every night, at least 6 hours per night and make those 6 hours of good quality.

2.- Follow a high fat, moderate protein, low carbohydrate nutrition program at least for a period of time to improve insulin and which also helps to keep appetite more in control.

3.- Follow some type of intermittent fasting having 2 meals per day which also helps lower insulin which helps us lose fat and keep hormones more balanced.

As we´ve seen there are several things that come into play when we talk about getting in amazing shape and sustain it, it´s more about hormones, macronutrients and how everything works together. It´s not only about following a very extreme and restrictive diet low in calories, and just to lose weight fast which will cause more harm to your body, it´s about understanding how things work and doing the right things to be able to sustain your results.

Your body is a complex machine there are different systems and hormone working together and they need to work in harmony to the same goal not only to make your fat loss journey easier but for health reasons.

As we´ve seen, leptin and ghrelin are 2 important hormones that need to be working the right way if you want to lose fat and stay lean and one of the most important fitness principles that trigger them is sleep. If you don´t get high quality sleep every night these 2 hormones won´t be working properly and you have the recipe for weight gain. This is why it´s important to develop good healthy habits for the 5 principles of fitness not only to lose fat and maintain a great physique but for health reasons.

If you know someone who could benefit from this post please share it with them and don´t forget to follow us on Twitter.

Pam

Diet

Food and hormones – Leptin

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Have you ever heard about leptin? Have you tried the leptin diet? if your answer is not then continue reading to learn about this hormone and if your answer was yes, also continue reading, you may learn something new.

Most traditional or commercial weight loss programs focus on calories, they make you follow diets too low in calories and the workouts are based on cardio or circuit training to lose as much weight as possible but when you stop following the program you start gaining all the weight back and the reason is simple, hormones and metabolism.

Our goal is to help you get an amazing physique and sustain it effortless and to do that we need to focus on what matters which is improving metabolism and hormones so that they work properly and give you the best results while improving and maintaining optimal health, leptin is one of those hormones.

Leptin is the satiety hormone and it´s job is to tell us when we´ve eaten enough and we need to stop. To keep it simple leptin tell us when to stop eating because we´re full. This hormone can be triggered by several factors and if we triggered it the wrong way by doing the wrong things then it won´t be doing its job effectively and if we add to this that some of our unhealthy habits are causing problems  like lack or poor quality sleep, which reduces leptin which is why we are hungry and have more cravings during the day and this is one of the short term effects of poor sleep.

When leptin is low it won´t send the message to our brain that we are full and we need to stop eating, on the contrary we will eat more in each meal and we´ll feel hungry throughout the day this is why weight gain is related to lack of sleep.

Fat cells increase leptin so the more fat we have the higher this hormone will be.

As with insulin there´s something called leptin resistance which is when our body produces too much leptin in this case the fat cells when we are obese or overweight and it gets to a point where the receptors block all that leptin so it can´t do its job and instead of getting signals that we are satisfied we feel hungry.

So as you can see, weight loss is not as simple as eat less and move more, yes it´s part of the equation but there are other things that come into play, what you can do to improve leptin, one simple step is start by getting enough high quality sleep every night, this is a simple tool that gives a lot of benefits and makes everything easier.

If you are overweight the best thing you can do is reduce insulin, we´ve talked about insulin in other posts and by improving insulin is easier to burn fat, when you start losing weight and getting rid of that excess fat, leptin also starts to lower, you can do this by trying some type of intermittent fasting like limiting your meals to 2 or 3 meals per day in an 8 hour window, another way is by reducing carbohydrates and follow a low carbohydrate, moderate and high fat diet like ketogenic for a period of time. Exercise also helps lower insulin specially HIIT.

What I recommend if your nutrition program is based on unhealthy foods, you´ll need to eliminate those unhealthy foods and focus on eating meals cooked with whole fresh ingredients and try intermittent fasting, go for 2 meals a day you can have breakfast and lunch or lunch and dinner. Do this for 4 to 6 weeks and see the results and how you feel.

If you know someone who could benefit from this post please share it with them and don´t forget to follow us on Twitter.

Pam

Diet

Food and hormones – Insulin

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With so many diets and a lot of contradicting information, myths and lies the best way to know what´s true, what doesn´t, what work and what doesn´t is to understand how things work. This has been my focus for the last years understanding how things work, to get in shape and sustain it and for this hormones play an important role, one of those hormones is insulin.

Insulin is a hormone that is produced and secreted by the pancreas following the consumption of carbohydrates. When we consume carbohydrates, they are broken down into glucose which raises the amount of glucose in the bloodstream. The body cannot have a lot of glucose in the bloodstream so the pancreas secret insulin to take the excess of glucose from the bloodstream to the cells.

Carbohydrates are the primary trigger of insulin. Insulin blocks the utilization of fat as fuel and promotes its storage so when insulin is high fat is not burned, when insulin is low the body can break down triglycerides (stored fat) to be used as fuel.

When insulin is absent, or the cells are not responding to it glucose is not used efficiently and therefore cannot be utilized for energy. Under these conditions carbohydrate consumption causes blood glucose levels to skyrocket.

Insulin is related to diabetes which is a common disease that affects more and more people. Diabetes is a metabolic disorder that occurs when the hormone insulin is not working properly. There are two types of diabetes, type 1 and type 2. Millions of people are diagnosed and in treatment of one of these types while many others are undiagnosed.

Type 1 diabetes is when the pancreas which produces insulin cannot work efficiently resulting in insulin deficiency, with this lack of insulin the cells are unable to take up glucose,  blood sugar is high but it cannot get into the cells. This type of diabetes is generally treated with insulin injections which provide the insulin that the body needs to take glucose out of the bloodstream.

Type 2 diabetes is when the pancreas is still able to secret insulin, but cells are unable to respond to insulin and therefore do not allow glucose to enter. This is known as insulin resistance; it is the opposite of insulin sensitivity in which insulin easily moves glucose into cells. Individuals whit type 2 diabetes should aim to improve their insulin resistance.

In insulin resistance, cells do not respond efficiently to insulin´s signals to take up excess glucose, the pancreas secret more and more insulin to compensate for insulin resistance and manage blood glucose levels. Over time, this process leads to dysfunction and the pancreas is not able to secret insulin efficiently to maintain healthy levels of glucose in the bloodstream. Glucose then accumulates in the bloodstream which may lead to type 2 diabetes.

The hormone insulin is one of the most important when trying to lose fat and stay lean. Insulin resistance and insulin sensitivity will determine how efficient your body is at utilizing carbohydrates which can make your process simple or harder.

High levels of insulin for a long period of time is unhealthy and causes many health issues, every time we eat insulin gets high so one way to keep it low is following some type of intermittent fasting which we talked about in other post (click here to read that post), we can do this by reducing meals per day, instead of 5 meals per day try 2 meals. Another way we can keep insulin low is with a low carbohydrate diet, especially keto which is high in fats, moderate protein and low in carbohydrates since carbohydrates are the macro which spikes insulin.

High levels of insulin caused by unhealthy diets are the cause of most metabolic diseases so finding tools you can use to keep it low will give you amazing benefits.

In both type of diabetes and even when insulin injections and other drugs are the preferred treatment, I cannot stress enough the importance of making healthy lifestyle changes including exercise and nutrition. 

The importance of a healthy lifestyle that includes daily exercise and a healthy diet have a positive impact on our life and daily activities preventing some diseases and leading to a more enjoyable and meaningful life.

Before you do any change to your diet and lifestyle talk with your doctor or health professional. We all know which unhealthy habits we follow and which healthy habits we need to develop but we still need some guidance and know what´s the best way to do it for each of us and they are the ones that can help us create a plan that works according to our own situation.

If you know someone who could benefit from this post please share it with them and don´t forget to follow us on Twitter.

Pam