The endocrine system is pretty complex, but by far one of the most interesting systems in the body because of all the different bodily functions that are affected by the endocrine system.
In you brain, there exists the hypothalamus. It’s basically the king of all hormones. It releases inhibiting and releasing hormone to the gland below it, the pituitary gland.
(SOURCE: This image came from The Mayo Foundation)
“Though she be but little, she is fierce,” William Shakespeare.
It’s hard to believe that tiny area of your brain and the neuroendocrine hypothalamus and pituitary gland can have such a large influence over our entire bodies!
The pituitary gland actually has two sides to it–the glandular anterior pituitary gland and the neural posterior pituitary.
(SOURCE: This image came from Medical Look)
In the image above, you can see all of the hormones produced by each side of the gland and a few of the different glands or tissues these hormones effect.
I know this is a bit complicated, so lets do a quick summary thus far:
The hypothalamus releases inhibiting and releasing hormones to the anterior pituitary (AKA the adenohypophysis). The hypothalamus also sends neural signals to the posterior pituitary gland (AKA the neurohypophysis).
The anterior releases mostly stimulating hormones–> thyroid stimulating hormone, growth hormone, POMC, melanocyte stimulating hormone, adrenocorticotropic hormone, follicle stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, and growth hormone.
The posterior releases two hormones–> Antidiuretic hormone and oxytocin.
These hormones released from the pituitary gland usually effect other glands or just effect the tissue.
For example, thyroid stimulating hormone affects the thyroid gland, while growth hormone just effects the muscles or bone directly.
Here’s a quick chart to reference for some of the hormones to see what glands they affect and their effects in the body:
(SOURCE: This image is from the University of Miami website)
How can we use this information to benefit our every day lives and training?!
As mentioned in the previous post, some of these hormones follow a daily cycle.
Cortisol release peaks in the a.m. and helps you wake up and get going.
Growth hormone and melatonin peak before bed time and during sleep.
Thyroid stimulating hormone peaks during the night.
Knowing this information, it would be best to train most likely in the morning while cortisol levels are already naturally elevated. Exercise can induce cortisol release if it is prolonged or extremely intense. Inappropriate cortisol release can lead to fat storage around the midsection, restless nights of little to no sleep, and also copious urine output during the night.
We would not want elevated cortisol levels because high levels of cortisol can make it impossible to get rid of midsection fat and lead to sleep disturbances, which further inhibit muscle growth because growth hormone release would be effected.
Growth hormone peaks during the night, making a good night of 8-9 hours of quality sleep vitally important to muscle hypertrophy and recovery in general.
You should also try to limit large meals at night because the thyroid hormone can raise your body temperature, making sleeping uncomfortable and more difficult.
I realize I mentioned these aspects of hormones in my last post, but I wanted to go further in depth into the science behind these hormones and glands.
Sneak peak of what my next post will include…
Post workout nutrition is also vital to muscle hypertrophy and recovery.
( huge spinach salad complete with fresh veggies from the farm down the street chicken breast and nutritional yeast, apple and paleo wraps! EAT TO GROW, EAT TO PERFORM)
Post workout nutrition should include a complex carbohydrate and a serving of protein. Most bodybuilders and fitness junkies think that simple carbs are best post workout, however, this is not the case. Numerous studies published on PubMed and other sites have found that you DON’T need to overly spike your insulin levels to recover from exercise or induce muscle hypertrophy. The only athletes that should be consuming simple carbs or sugar post workout are those who are either involved in endurance sports that are highly glycolytically demanding or workout twice or more per day. Otherwise, the benefits are inconsequential.
Next time I will go into some studies regarding post workout nutrition and the endocrine glands of the pancreas and liver that affect glucagon and insulin production!
What do you guys eat post workout? What’s your favorite post workout meal?
God Bless! xoxo