Looking for healthy hormone hacks to keep your hormones in check and happy? Let’s start off by clarifying what hormones are, and why we should be paying attention to them. Hormones are essentially your body’s chemical messengers. They are created in glands and organs that make up the endocrine system. This affects many different processes such as growth and development, metabolism, reproduction, mood, and appetite. Hormones are extremely powerful and can cause big changes in cells or even your whole body – resulting in balances or imbalances. In this blog we’ll go over five hacks to balance your hormones and help you feel your best. The amazing thing? YOU have a lot of control over your hormones simply by altering some nutrition and lifestyle choices. And if you’re thinking, “wait a minute, I thought this was a hiking/adventure blog”, know that my passion/expertise for health and fitness began far before my hiking career! This is my first love and field of business stemmed from my own journey with hormonal imbalance, inflammation, metabolic issues, and weight loss. It just so happens that I combined my knowledge and years of experience working in fitness and female health WITH my passion for hiking/adventure. So here we are!
For more information along these lines, grab my FREE Guide to a Healthy Metabolism HERE if you suspect your metabolism may be an under-performer at the moment.
It should be noted that you should always consult with a healthcare provider when it comes to your own personal hormone levels. That being said, let’s jump in.
Kicking us off first, we’ll dive into protein! One of the most important functions of protein is providing the amino acids necessary for hormone production in the pituitary gland – which is often referred to as the “master gland” of the endocrine system! Estrogen, insulin, thyroid hormone, prolactin, and growth hormone are a few that rely on protein. These play a crucial role in regulating multiple physiological processes, including energy metabolism, appetite, stress, growth, and more. So while protein might be a buzzword in the fitness industry for building muscle, it is also so incredibly important for many more functions in the body.
Hack: Aim for a minimum of 20g of protein per meal, with an ideal daily goal ranging from 80-100g.
Our second key to hormone health is to avoid under-eating chronically! Skipping breakfast every day, or eating a low calorie diet for months (or years) on end is bound to wreak havoc on your hormones and can lead to a lack of reproductive function when taken too far. A key signal for this is losing your menstrual cycle or having irregular cycles. Highly intense exercise especially when paired with under-eating tends to have this effect on women. And while not having your cycle may feel like a nice perk, it’s a sign of some underlying issues that need to be addressed. Women require more body fat than men in order to maintain normal hormonal function. This is something our addresses in Mountain Metabolic Coaching with our hormone specialist, so if you have a feeling your hormones may be in distress from years of dieting and/or over-exercising, connect with us HERE.
Hack: Start your day with protein and healthy fats BEFORE having coffee, and ideally within an hour of waking. Waking up hungry is a good thing!
Exercising regularly is next on the list of hormone hacks. One of the biggest benefits of intentional exercise is the use of excess insulin in the bloodstream throughout the day, resulting in more balanced blood sugar and hormone levels. As women age, we also experience a decline of estrogen production. You can combat this by exercising regularly for at least 30 minutes a day to boost estrogen levels and help with menopause symptoms if you are in that season of life. Regular exercise also helps balance cortisol and thyroid hormones, along with providing a boost of endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine to the brain! The benefits of intentional movement never cease to amaze me, which is what drives my passion for helping others create a healthy, sustainable lifestyle. If you need accountability and support our team of experts is here to help through the Mountain Metabolic Coaching Program. If you’re looking for a quick resource or don’t know where to start – check out my Free Week of Workouts!
Hack: Develop an exercise regime of 3-4 strength workouts per week around 30-40 minutes if possible.
Next, and quite possibly the fan favorite of healthy hormones; sleep! And before your eyes glaze over, it’s important to note that sleep has been referred to as the big “autotune dial” on the soundboard of overall wellness by many professionals across the board. A good night’s sleep is vital to producing and regulating your hormones. Melatonin is one of the most commonly known hormones associated with sleep. It’s produced in your pineal gland, and helps regulate your circadian rhythm, also known as your sleep-wake cycle. The sun produces blue light that signals your brain’s melatonin secretion. In today’s world, artificial blue light and devices disrupt this cyclical production. To ensure quality sleep, be mindful of screens close to bed-time and opt for blue light blocking glasses if necessary. Not getting adequate sleep also inhibits the production of human growth hormone, which is vital for maintaining your metabolism, immunity, and muscle development. The hunger hormones (leptin, ghrelin, and insulin) are also affected by sleep along with cortisol, estrogen, and progesterone. So many physiological processes rely on a good night’s sleep. It’s worth winding down and getting into a healthy sleep routine to ensure quality rest.
Hack: Take a warm shower before bed to bring your core body temperature down, signaling melatonin production and aim for 7-9 hours of sleep in total darkness.
The next key to healthy hormones is a healthy gut. Gut health has been a hot topic in the wellness space for awhile now, and for good reason. But how does this relate to hormone health and what can we do about it? First off, gut health affects hormone production in a multitude of ways. One being the absorption of nutrients that produce and regulate the hormones we have been talking about so far in this blog. We can eat all the healthy, colorful, whole food in the world, however it’s only as effective as our ability to digest and absorb the nutrients. Your gut microbiota influences thyroid hormone, estrogen, serotonin, progesterone, and nearly every other hormone in the body. So making sure you are making mindful choices towards a healthy gut is key. There are too many “hacks” to list just one when it comes to the gut, so we’ll provide you with a few extras here (bonus – woot woot!). That being said, a deeper 1:1 dive with a licensed professional is always recommended. We have a spectacular Functional Medicine Practitioner on our team of experts. For more information, apply here!
Hacks: 1.) Eat plenty of fiber. Fiber is a prebiotic – the main function is to feed your gut’s microorganisms. Without fiber, the gut flora cannot thrive! 2.) Incorporate probiotics into your diet. Whether it’s through fermented foods such as sauerkraut, yogurt, kimchi, miso, etc. or through a live culture probiotic supplement, adding these into your daily regimen can help restore the gut microbiota. 3.) Stress management. Finding pockets of being in a state of “rest and digest” will work wonders in your gut health journey. Daily walks, time outside, journaling, yoga, meditation, prayer, practicing gratitude, talking to a trusted professional, movement, and a multitude of other amazing outlets can really aid your gut health and promote healthy digestion. It may be hard to imagine the impact that our thoughts could have on our gut health, but trust me when I say, they make a profound difference.
Last but not least, healthy fats also play a vital role in hormone regulation. Eating an inadequate amount of healthy fats decreases the body’s production of estrogen and progesterone. It can also affect serotonin, leptin, and cholesterol production. HDL cholesterol is the precursor to our sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone). Fatty acids are also crucial molecules that determine your brain’s ability to perform and produce hormones as well.
Hack: Incorporate healthy fats such as avocado, olive oil, ghee, grass-fed butter, egg yolks, fatty fish, nuts, and seeds into your diet. Aim for about 1-2 Tbsp per meal. Be mindful that when cooking food in healthy fats and oil, you do not need to add additional fat to the meal.
Although the endocrine system is one of the most complicated and least understood systems in the body, there are still things you can implement into your lifestyle to help aid in overall hormonal health. I hope these five hacks can help redirect you towards a happy and healthy endocrine system, and as stated above, please be sure to consult with a licensed provider on your hormone journey. *This is not medical advice.*
If you are looking for a fitness program that not only provides next-level support towards your goals but also takes into account the nuances of female metabolic/hormonal health, schedule a call to chat with me to see if the Mountain Metabolic Program may be a good fit for you!
Happy + healthy trails,