Like a muscle over time your glands can be overworked. Unfortunately, it isn’t something most people take into consideration when working out and dieting, mainly because you don’t “see” or “feel” it like you would say an overworked muscle group. When you continue to stress your metabolic system, your body will eventually become resistant to the signals that regulate them. Once this occurs, it’s usually irreversible and will have adverse effects on you’re general well-being both physically and psychologically.
So what is the function of a hormone? Simply put it’s a communicator, the secretion of one hormone and inhabitation of another to create homeostatic conditions for organs and tissues. A perfect example is insulin and glucagon, when we start to exercise our insulin secretion is inhibited and glucagon is secreted in order to provide our muscles with the energy needed to fuel the exertion.
A basic understanding is needed when working out and dieting, especially when it comes to the role of hormones on how the effect you day to day. Insulin, Glucagon, Catecholamines (adrenaline, noradrenaline), thyroid hormones, satiety hormones ghrelin and leptin and importantly testosterone and androgen groups.
Insulin and low carb diets
Following absorption through the intestine glucose first enters the bloodstream where it is broken down by via gluconeogenesis in the liver which initiates the secretion of insulin. Insulin binds to receptors in the liver, kidneys, muscle, and adipose tissue once this rise in glucose concentration is detected. This then acts to inhibit the liver and kidneys from releasing any further glucose that would be required to maintain this level of plasma glucose in the absence of dietary sources.
Insulin is an interesting hormone with a somewhat bad reputation when Its comes to weight loss. This is due to the misunderstanding around its inhibitory and storage actions. Yes, Insulin inhibits lipolysis (breakdown of fats), this results in a decrease in mobilization of fats to be used as fuel…..BUT, insulin also serves to protect all stored fat and proteins which includes amino acids which means it therefore assists in the preservation of lean mass. This is one of the reason why carbohydrates are regarded as ‘Protein sparing’, and as lean tissue is critical in most compositional improvements, both insulin production and carbohydrate intake are critical for a multitude of reasons….
During any prolonged period of carbohydrate restriction (Aka low card diets and ketogenic diets) there will be a decrease in plasma glucose which will initially signal the onset of hypoglycaemia. We then see a spike in counterregulatory hormones glucagon, catecholamines, cortisol and GH4 which initiates a shift away from carbohydrate metabolism. This signals the release of glucagon by the Alpha cells of the pancreas thus switching to the metabolic use of amino and/or fatty acids.
With my next blog, I’ll go into more details on other metabolic hormones and the sustainability of low carb diets.
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