HOW HORMONES CAN SUPPORT MUSCLE RECOVERY

Written by: Chandler Milligan

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Time to read 7 min


When it comes to the subject of recovery, many of us don't realise the critical role that hormones play in the process. The hormonal system is vital for maintaining the balance of many bodily functions, including growth, repair and reproduction. As such, they can play a role in our body's recovery process, supporting stress response and helping to repair damage after workouts and other physical exertion (Better Health Victoria. 2014).


Let’s look at two important types of hormones and how they may support muscle recovery.



Anabolic Hormones


You probably hear the word ‘anabolic’ thrown around a lot in the daily gym chit-chat, and that’s because anabolism is centred around the growth and building of molecules. The anabolic hormone is responsible for building small, simple molecules into larger, more complex hormones (Marcin, A. 2019).


Anabolic hormones are primarily involved in growth and tissue repair and operate most effectively when your body is getting enough nutrients from foods like vegetables, fruits and lean meats. Anabolic exercises include weight-bearing exercises (weight-lifting, etc.) that cause tiny tears in your muscle fibres. These exercises expend low energy during their performance while expending the most energy in the aftermath to repair and strengthen the tissue (Cleveland Clinic. 2021).


Anabolic hormones include:


  • Estrogen
  • Insulin
  • Growth hormone
  • Testosterone


Catabolic Hormones


Catabolism refers to what happens when the food you digest is broken down into molecules in the body for energy. In contrast to the trend of anabolic hormones growing from small to large, in catabolism, the larger, complex molecules are broken down into smaller, simpler ones (Marcin, A. 2019).


Catabolism performs no matter what you fuel your body with, breaking down everything from clean food to junk. The food that isn’t used for energy is stored for later. Catabolic exercise includes aerobic training like running, swimming and biking. These require more energy and oxygen during the activity itself and are known for burning glucose and fat (Cleveland Clinic. 2021).


Catabolic hormones include:


  • Adrenaline
  • Cortisol
  • Cytokines
  • Glucagon


What hormones are responsible for minimising muscle damage & enhancing repair?


When it comes to building muscle, most people focus on workout routines and diet, but few pay attention to the crucial role of hormones in the process. Hormones are essential for minimising muscle damage and enhancing repair, and understanding their function can be a game changer. So, what hormones are needed for muscle recovery?


One of the most important hormones in this regard is insulin (commonly referred to as IGF-1), which promotes muscle protein synthesis and cell repair. Testosterone is another hormone that plays a significant role in muscle growth by stimulating protein synthesis and reducing muscle breakdown. Finally, growth hormone is responsible for promoting muscle repair and recovery after intense workouts.


Let’s take a deeper look at how these hormones support muscle recovery.



Testosterone


Testosterone plays a vital role in the development of male growth and plays a role in a number of functions, from muscle and bone health to mood balance and cognitive ability. Testosterone is often discussed synonymously with libido, but we know something that will appeal to you far more: muscle growth & recovery (Pietrangelo, A. 2018).


Testosterone is the primary anabolic hormone and plays a crucial role in supporting muscle recovery. Testosterone is responsible for inducing anabolic and anticatabolic functions that play a role in muscle tissue growth, recovery and remodelling. Additionally, testosterone stimulates the development of bone and other connective tissues (Kraemer, W et al. 2017).



Growth hormone


Growth hormone, commonly referred to as GH, is a hormone produced naturally in the brain's pituitary gland and plays a role in fat loss and muscle growth. GH plays a role in increased recovery following resistance training, depending on the workout and the type of GH being assayed. During the recovery process, the anterior pituitary gland releases GH, which includes various forms of molecules with differing weights. The most significant forms are GH aggregates, which have the highest concentration in human plasma and are referred to as bioassayable or bioactive GH (Kraemer, W et al. 2017).



Insulin


Insulin is a peptide hormone produced in the cells of your pancreas, and its primary function is to provoke your cells to take and store glucose from your blood. Insulin is popular amongst the bodybuilding community for its benefits in muscle growth and can decrease muscle breakdown, further supporting recovery and growth (Stoppani, J. 2018).



Impact of improperly functioning hormones


Hormones are the body's messengers, communicating instructions to different organs on what to do and when to do it. They play a vital role in almost all aspects of human life, from digestion to metabolism and mood. When hormones are not functioning correctly, it can have a significant impact on your overall health and well-being.


So, what is hormone imbalance?


A hormone imbalance occurs when you have too much or too little of a specific hormone, and the term (which is broad) can represent a range of different hormone-related conditions. Hormone imbalances can be both temporary and long-term and can impact everything from your recovery to your muscle growth (Cleveland Clinic. 2022).


Proper hormone balance is essential to overall muscle health and recovery. When hormone production falters and becomes imbalanced, it can lead to a host of issues in your body's ability to repair and rebuild muscle tissue. This hormonal disruption can lead to increased muscle soreness, prolonged recovery times, and increased risk of injury (Sivapalan, H. 2019).


In addition, when your cortisol levels, which form part of a short-term response to physical or mental stress, rise and remain elevated for long periods of time, you may experience issues with your recovery. Because cortisol levels operate when your body undergoes stress, your cortisol levels may remain high for prolonged periods if you are undergoing extensive exercise without sufficient recovery. When your cortisol levels remain high, you may experience issues like the breakdown of muscle tissue, which can negatively impact muscle gains and performance (Sivapalan, H. 2019).



Ingredients that support recovery

DIM


Diindolylmethane, primarily known as DIM, is a plant compound known to promote health in a variety of areas, but specifically for hormone health. Found in cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, and cauliflower, DIM can help to increase positive estrogen metabolites, while reducing the negative estrogen metabolites. DIM supports improved metabolism and collaborates with your own hormones and adjusts their actions to prevent hormone imbalances. To support your muscle recovery, DIM assists in the conversion of estrogen to good estrogen metabolites, shields stressed muscle cells and promotes efficient repair and growth. It may also help bodybuilders protect their muscles from exercise-induced damage and can lower inflammation and soreness (Fort Wayne Physical Medicine. 2014).



Calcium D-Gluc


Calcium D-gluc, or CDG, is a chemical similar to glucaric acid. It is made by combining glucaric acid with calcium, and helps to lower estrogen levels. The benefits of CDG include liver detoxification, with calcium D-gluc removing toxins from the liver and promoting a healthier metabolism. Estrogen balance can make it difficult to lose body fat, while also causing increased tissue growth. CDG may help to combat this by helping to improve estrogen metabolism (Calcium-D-glutarate, 2002).



Tongkat Ali


Tongkat ali is a natural supplement that has been used for centuries in traditional medicine to boost energy, improve mood, and increase athletic performance. What many people don't know is that tongkat ali also supports muscle recovery. Tongkat Ali may have effects on testosterone, cortisol and other hormones related to metabolic health and stress, and can be used to support muscle recovery. Lower cortisol and higher testosterone levels can improve performance and recovery, helping to reduce fatigue, balance mood, and support stress response. Additionally, tongkat ali has anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce muscle soreness and pain (Hulse, E. 2023).



Turkesterone


Derived from the Ajuga turkestanica plant, turkesterone can support you by promoting faster muscle recovery after exercise. Turkesterone offers a cascade of benefits that gym-goers look for, helping to put on muscle mass, improve exercise performance, most importantly, assist with muscle recovery. Turkestrone supports this by helping to repair the muscle fibres that have been damaged during training, as well as increasing glycogen concentrations in muscles, helping to remove lactic acid and support muscle recovery (Isenmann, E et al., 2019).



The bottom line


Hormones play a critical role in muscle recovery and overall health. Without the proper balance of hormones, your body would not be able to repair and build muscle efficiently after exercise. The release and regulation of hormones such as testosterone, growth hormone, and insulin is essential in supporting muscle growth and recovery, as well as reducing inflammation and preventing muscle breakdown.


By understanding the importance of hormones in muscle recovery, you can optimise your workouts, enhance your performance. If you’re looking for the best hormone balance supplements to support your hormone levels, we have you covered at ASN. Reach out online or pop in-store and our knowledgeable team can help you find the right formulas to support your needs.



References

Better Health Victoria. 2014, ‘Hormonal (endocrine) system’, Better Health Channel, accessed 24 July 2023, https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/hormonal-endocrine-system


Marcin, A. 2019, ‘Catabolism vs. Anabolism: What’s the Difference?’ Healthline, accessed 24 July 2023, https://www.healthline.com/health/catabolism-vs-anabolism


Cleveland Clinic. 2021, ‘Anabolism vs. catabolism: The Role They Palay In Your Metabolism’, Cleveland Clinic, accessed 24 July 2023, https://health.clevelandclinic.org/anabolism-vs-catabolism/


Pietrangelo, A. 2018, ‘How Testosterone Benefits Your Body?’ Healthline, accessed 24 July 2023, https://www.healthline.com/health/benefits-testosterone


Kraemer, et al. 2017, ‘Recovery responses of testosterone, growth hormone, and IGF-1 after resistance exercise’, Journal of Applied Physiology, accessed 24 July 2023, https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/japplphysiol.00599.2016#:~:text=Testosterone%20administration%20has%20been%20shown,in%20skeletal%20muscle%20(41).


Stoppani, J. 2018, ‘The Muscle-Building Messenger: Your Complete Guide To Insulin’, BarBend, accessed 24 July 2023, https://www.bodybuilding.com/content/the-muscle-building-messenger-complete-guide-to-insulin.html#:~:text=In%20addition%2C%20insulin%20also%20decreases,blood%20flow%20to%20the%20muscles.


Cleveland Clinic. 2022, ‘Hormonal Imbalance’, Cleveland Clinic, accessed 24 July 2023, https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases/22673-hormonal-imbalance


Sivapalan, H. 2019, ‘Optimizing Cortisol For Exercise And Recovery’, Fitness Genes, accessed 25 July 2023, https://www.fitnessgenes.com/blog/optimizing-cortisol-for-exercise-and-recovery#:~:text=This%20may%20occur%20if%20we,muscle%20gains%20and%20exercise%20performance.


Fort Wayne Physical Energy. 2014, ‘The Benefits Of DIM’, Fort Wayne Physical Medicine, accessed 25 July 2023, https://fortwaynephysicalmedicine.com/blog/the-benefits-of-dim#:~:text=Higher%202%2Dhydroxy%20levels%20provide,more%20efficient%20repair%20and%20growth.


Hulse, E. 2023, ‘Tongkat Ali: Benefits, Side Effects And Dosage’, Forbes Health, accessed 25 July 2023, https://www.forbes.com/health/body/tongkat-ali/


Isenmann, E et al. (2019, 23 May). 'Ecdysteroids as non-conventional anabolic agent: performance enhancement by ecdysterone supplementation in humans'. Arch Toxicol. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31123801/ 


Calcium-D-glucarate. (2002). Alternative medicine review: a journal of clinical therapeutic, 7(4), 336-339.