In my first post about hormones I talked about Leptin in hope of showing you how important hormones can be. In this post I’m going to go more in depth with how hormones work within our bodies. As I said before, hormones (simply put) are messengers, one part of the body knows something and it needs to tell other parts of the body so they can prepare and deal with what’s coming, so a hormone is released to send the information.
The easiest way to think about it is by thinking about the little child’s toy with a square, circular and triangular shapes with relevant shaped holes. Only the correctly ‘shaped’ hormone will fit the correct ‘hole’ in the cells. As I talked about within the insulin post, glucagon which is released by the pancreas only has an effect on the liver, so no other cells in the body have the corresponding hole to match glucagon.
Unfortunately in life, nothing is that simple, hormones are social things. Think about how you act when you go to a friends wedding, you dress smartly, wait your turn for the buffet and generally, you are on best behaviour. But how did you act on the stag/hen do? I’m guessing not the same. Hormones are like us, they act differently depending on who’s in their company (which other hormones are present) and the environment (posh wedding or a drunken night out). If you have been sitting on the sofa all day and decide you want a large chicken and mushroom pizza with extra cheese, fries and a coke then insulin isn’t going to work in your favour, sending all that glucose to the fat cells for storage. If however you have been to the gym and built up a sweat, catecholamine’s (a subject I will soon be posting) will react with insulin and tell the muscles to absorb the glucose before the fat cells get involved. I’m by no means advocating that after every workout you help yourself to a pizza and chips. A ‘healthy’ meal after the gym will replenish the fuel used by the muscles and help to build and repair the muscles fibres.
The image above is the representation of the cell membrane. This is the outer most layer of each cell in the body. It stops anything from entering the cell that shouldn’t be there and communicates to the rest of the body. The spaghetti like things reaching out are receptors, (like an ariel on top of your house looking for a signal) reaching out for hormones to lock onto. (look out for this image again when I talk about the types of fat we eat). Like the child’s toy, only certain receptors react to certain hormones. Once the cell detects the hormone, it will react in a pre determined manner.
As you can see the actions of hormones are huge, and to ignore them when trying to reach our fitness or weight goals is like swimming upstream. It can be done but what a waste of time and effort when you can keep the same goal, turn the tide and use the current in your favour.