Hormones are forever a hot topic and discussion point in the fitness and wellness space. Unfortunately there’s also a lot of bad information, gimmicks, “hormone balancing” supplements” (please dont buy these), special ~hormone balancing diets and workouts~ (vomit), and lord knows what else. It’s a jungle out there, to say the least.
Maybe Try Auditing Things Like Your Nutrition, Exercise, & Lifestyle Habits First
Listen. I know the basics aren’t sexy or flashy, but they DO work. Before going down the “hormone rabbit hole” and spending eleventy billion dollars on testing and expensive supplements (that might be do more harm than good), your time and energy might be better spent by first ensuring you’re consistently hitting basic foundational habits that support good health and wellbeing.
You know. Like if you’re not eating fruits and vegetables every day, maybe start there. Stuck behind a desk all day for work? Maybe focus on incorporating more walks so you can better support your digestion, heart health, etc. If you’re only able to survive off copious amounts of coffee, maybe work on drinking more water, less coffee, and getting more sleep at night.
If hormones, thyroid, and/or menstrual cycle aren’t doing super great right now, it might also be helpful to “zoom out” and assess the various ways your body may be under an abundance of stress or the things we might be doing (consciously or unknowingly) that might be contributing to additional stress on your body.
Stress Can Come in Many Forms:
- How much food we are or are not eating
- The types of food we’re eating (are we eating mostly high quality real whole foods? Or super processed foods, lots of fast food, etc etc)
- How much, how often, and how hard we’re working out, what type of exercise we’re doing
- How often we frequent alcoholic beverages
- Blood sugar regulation and meal timing
- Are we using hormonal contraceptives that might impact/change hormone levels
- Day-to-day life stress (work, relationships, etc)
- Digestion, gut health, sleep habits, caffeine
… and so on.
Our Body Really Likes Being Well-Fed
Our body typically likes to feel safe, be well-fed and consistently adequately nourished, so it has the building blocks to make and produce hormones. Baseline maintenance calorie needs for active individuals who work out regularly often start at a minimum of something like ~1,700-2,000+ cals/day (if not more). The more active we are, the more food and carbs we likely need to eat to support our activity (:
Fat Doesn’t Make You Fat (and it’s necessary for making hormones!)
It can also be common to see hormone and/or period problems if we’re consistently eating lower fat. For example, maybe we’re consistently averaging ~30-50 grams of fat day… It wouldn’t surprise me to see amenorrhea, irregular periods, or periods that are loaded with symptoms and discomfort.
High quality dietary fats are super important to our hormone health and wellbeing. Ensuring a minimum of something like ~60-70 grams of healthy fats per day from sources like olive oil, avocados, salmon, high quality red meat, full-fat dairy, seeds, etc might be a great place to start.
On the Nutrition & Lifestyle Front, Could You Also…
- Aim for a few handfuls of fruits and veggies every day
- Aim for ~25-35 grams of fiber per day + drink lots of water
- Aim for mostly well-rounded meals that contain a protein, carb, fat, fruit, and veggie (for example: 90/10 ground bison, avocado, sweet potato, green beans, raspberries)
- Eat at regular intervals throughout the day so we’re better supporting blood sugar regulation
- Aim for ~7,000-8,000 steps per day so we’re spending time outside in nature, supporting digestion, and also supporting our mood and mental health
- Eat undistracted without technology, put fork down between bites, chew each bite of food ~15-30 times (or until liquid mush)
- Prioritize ~7-9 hours of sleep per night
Recovery Is the Secret Sauce
We also want to strike a cadence with exercise habits so that whatever activity and movement we love doing (lifting, running, biking, etc) we’re able to actually RECOVER from that endeavor. Exercise is a stressor (that’s kinda the point), so we want to try and make it work WITH us, rather than there’s definitely ways we can kinda make it work “against us.”
Recovery is key and can generally be thought of as the “secret sauce” to most goals and positive adaptations (such as muscle gain, fat loss, improved body comp, or in this case — we’re focusing specifically on trying to improve health and hormones).
If we’re consistently beating our body down, but not giving it a chance to properly recover (via things like adequate calories and carbs, adequate rest days, intelligent programming, etc) – fitness and the way we approach our activity and movement and exercise can be another great place where we can make some simple changes and see a massive return-in-investment.
On the Exercise Front:
- Are you getting ~1-3 total rest days per week (where you rest up, stay out of the gym, eat the food, and just hit your 7,000-8,000 daily steps)?
- Are you taking Deload Recovery Weeks every ~4-6 weeks (where you intentionally reduce training volume, frequency, reps, sets, etc) in your workouts and training?
- Are you following an evidence-based training program that’s backed by science? Or are you doing mostly random classes, random workouts, and/or hopping between workout programs?
- If lifting and weight training, are you following a Progressive Overload program? (this means there are weekly repeating movements that increase in difficulty week-to-week)
- If you’re feeling pretty crummy right now, have you tried reducing how many days a week and how long you’re working out? Have you tried experimenting with other ways of working out? Less might be more right now
Shameless Plug for Our Workouts & Online Community at Paragon Training Methods:
- We have evidence-based workouts that are intelligently programmed around helping you achieve your goals while also prioritizing your recovery, health, and wellbeing. This affords you the opportunity go get the best of all worlds and feel great, perform well, and look damn good
- We advocate for our members to be well educated around nutrition, fitness, and their body. Our company motto is “StrongxWell-Fed” as being strong, well-fed, and well-recovered leads to incredible workouts, happy hormones, muscle gain and PR’s, confidence and better body image, and a better relationship with your body, food, and the gym