Common issues in men’s health and fitness can be put down to minor imbalances in the primary 3 hormones: Testosterone, Estrogen and Progesterone. For men, an increased level of fat between the waist and upper thigh can indicate higher estrogen levels. A noticeable increase in breast tissue in males is often the result of a drop in progesterone. For testosterone, too much can cause fluid retention, with too little causing a decrease in muscle retention. Watching out for key signs of hormone imbalances is critical to your fitness, mood and muscle development. Here’s everything you need to know about hormones and what they mean for men’s fitness.
This ‘steroid’ hormone is often used as a medicine, with its highest levels occurring naturally in men. In its normal levels, testosterone is involved in the gradual development of muscle bulk and strength. It’s increasing effects on neurotransmitters encourages tissue growth, leading to faster muscle recovery and an increase in overall muscle size. Higher levels of testosterone in the body also mean higher levels of the growth hormone, further aiding in an increase in muscle, bone and body size.
How does low testosterone affect men?
A few of the major side effects of low testosterone is a decreased sex drive, motivation and mood levels, not to mention an increase in weight gain. Low testosterone can increase the likelihood of obesity, osteoporosis and metabolic syndrome more than any other hormone deficiency.
Although it is classed as a female hormone, estrogen in its low levels is vital in men. Estrogen is produced primarily by the ovaries in women, with the adrenal glands producing low concentrations in both sexes. Estrogen is still necessary for normal bodily functions in men and is a vital hormone in the balancing of testosterone and progesterone.
How does high estrogen affect men?
Elevated levels of estrogen in men usually coincide with a decrease in testosterone, often resulting in a loss of muscle mass and an increase in overall fatigue. High estrogen is one of the bodies ways to deal with stress, leading to an overall increase in fat percentage.
The forgotten hormone progesterone is the second highest hormone in the male body – after testosterone – and is a primary reproductive hormone. Unlike women, men’s progesterone doesn’t follow a cycle, rather is produced in small levels in the adrenal gland and testes. Progesterone’s natural production has found to be responsible for reducing anxiety in times of stress, normalising sleep patterns and slowing down the digestive process during periods of fasting. It is also one of the key elements which keep estrogen levels low in men.
How does low progesterone affect men?
Classed as the ‘source hormone’ for the bodies’ needs, progesterone is crucial to the normal production of testosterone and estrogen. What does this mean for you? When progesterone levels drop, testosterone does the same leading to weight gain, muscle loss and a decreased sex drive. Low progesterone levels is also linked to an increase in bone fractures, facial hair and specifically an increase in body fat around the chest.
Do any of these sound familiar?
Cutting out excess dairy, grain fed meat (versus grass fed) and highly processed foods is one way to keep your hormone production in check. Making sure your hormones are naturally balanced is crucial in sustaining normal metabolic functions, energy levels and muscle development. Foods such as coconut oil, avocado, hemp seeds and green tea are just a few additions to your diet that can aid in maintaining normal hormone production.