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Is Your Hormone Imbalance Affecting Your Soccer Performance?

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What we'll cover in Part 1:

  1. What is the endocrine system?
  2. Why should we care about our hormones functioning optimally?
  3. What are the signs of balanced hormones?
  4. What are the signs of imbalanced hormones?
  5. What can cause these negative symptoms?
  6. How can I naturally support my hormones as a female athlete?

Without getting too science-y on you...it's important to note that the endocrine system is working extremely hard at all times for us to feel our best, on and off the field.

What is the endocrine system, again?

The endocrine system is the collection of glands (as show below) that produce hormones that regulate metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, reproduction, sleep, and mood, among other things.

Cortisol, estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, human growth hormone (HGH), luteinizing hormone (LH), insulin, ghrelin, leptin...these are just a VERY short list of the many hormones that are consistently working together so that you can feel & perform your best. 

Why should we care about our hormones functioning optimally?

Well...the endocrine system kinda RUNS our world & our game.

The endocrine hormones control mood, growth and development, the way our organs work, metabolism, and reproduction.

Here's a quick example of how specifically our hormones can impact our game...

Let's say you are STRESSED OUT constantly with school, soccer & trying to balance a social life. You have homework & essay deadlines but you can't seem to keep up with your work.

When you’re under stress, your adrenal glands pump out stress hormones. And if you’re constantly under pressure, eventually your adrenals become exhausted, causing an adrenal insufficiency.

What's the problem? Well the adrenals also produce the hormone aldosterone, which helps regulate your body’s levels of fluid and electrolytes. So as adrenal fatigue progresses, your body’s production of aldosterone drops, triggering dehydration and low electrolyte levels.


This is merely ONE example of THOUSANDS of scenarios where your hormones can affect your athletic performance. See what we mean now? 

What are the signs that my endocrine system is optimally functioning (#balancedhormones)?

 

  • have a predictable & painless menstrual cycle
  • have a healthy appetite
  • feel happier & more motivated
  • run faster
  • jump higher
  • maintain endurance for the entire 90 minutes
  • recover faster
  • gain lean muscle mass & maintain it
  • reduce body fat 
  • reduce bloat
  • have clear skin
  • eliminate toxins 
  • think clearly & critically
  • sleep deeply
and the list goes on...

    What are the signs of a hormonal imbalance?

    If you think about it - it's quite the opposite of the benefits above. Here are some signs to look for:

    • loss of menstrual cycle / missing period
    • lack of appetite, nothing appeals to you OR your cravings are out of control for sugar & carbs!
    • feel lost or unmotivated
    • feeling weaker
    • unable to maintain endurance like you used to
    • delayed recovery
    • unable to gain lean muscle mass
    • unable to lose body fat 
    • bloating
    • acne
    • digestion issues like IBS or constipation
    • brain fog / ADD
    • insomnia or sleeping issues

    If you happen to be experiencing those symptoms above, don't freak out! See these symptoms as your body trying to communicate with you that something is off. Now you can use it as a clue to find out what's really happening! Schedule an appointment with your doctor, asap :) 

    What can cause these negative symptoms?

    #1. Nutrient deficiencies / Poor diet

    This is usually caused by eating processed foods too often. We need to find the balance of eating nutrient-dense & whole foods majority of the time. Then we can find balance by enjoying processed foods, snacks or desserts on special occasions! 

    #2. Under eating

    This is usually caused by extreme dieting for fat loss or weight loss. As soccer players, we exert an immense amount of energy each day and so we need to refuel our bodies with energy/calories! When we under eat, it can impact our hormone health, menstrual health, strength, performance AND increase your risk for injury.

    #3. Chronically overexercising

    This leads to increased injury as well! You are already doing so much as an athlete with practice/fitness/strength sessions... more often than not, you do not need to do extra fitness on top of this.

    #4. Dehydration

    Put it this way, when we are not replenishing our fluid intake as we sweat, you can put yourself at risk for cramping, digestive issues (which is no fun while you're playing), overheating, vomiting, fainting & more. Your body truly cannot perform, nor your endocrine system truly cannot thrive, without being hydrated. 


    According to Sports Dieticians 'Fluids in Sport' fact sheet:
    As dehydration increases, there is a gradual reduction in physical and mental performance. There is an increase in heart rate and body temperature, and an increased perception of how hard the exercise feels, especially when exercising in the heat. Studies show that loss of fluid equal to 2% of body mass is sufficient to cause a detectable decrease in performance (that’s a 1.4 kg loss in a 70 kg athlete).Dehydration of greater than 2% loss of body weight increases the risk of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and other gastro-intestinal problems during exercise.

    #5. Prolonged stress (physical/mental/emotional)

    That's right when there is too much of stress in our lives, our body can be impacted big time! Lack of sleep, too much cardio, processed sugar or flour, overconsumption of caffeine, too much screen time on your computers or phones, toxic people in your life -- ALL of these things can add stress & inflammation to your body. 

    No matter what the stress is, your body treats it like a threat to try & protect you! When your body see it as a threat, there is a domino affect that happens with your hormones.

    Adrenaline increases your heart rate, raises your blood pressure, and provides quick energy. Cortisol increases sugars (glucose) in the bloodstream and curbs functions in the body that it deems unnecessary in a stressful situation. As a result, your immune, digestive, and reproductive systems suffer.

    What’s worse, under chronic or constant stress, your body cannot keep up with the demand to produce cortisol. As a result, your body will begin to steal the hormone progesterone to convert it to cortisol. When this happens, you end up with an imbalance between progesterone and estrogen, also known as estrogen dominance.

    Cue the hormonal imbalance symptoms like mood swings, headaches, anxiety, sleep issues, low energy, stubborn weight, etc! 

    You see how everything can impact your hormone health? That's why it's so important for us to control what we can control so that we can feel our best more often, on and off the field. 

    Now you're probably wondering, what the heck can I do to balance my hormones?  In Part 2, we will go over tips & tricks on how to balance your hormones naturally that are in your control. PART 2 COMING SOON on SoccerGrlProbs.com 

    ________________________________________________________________

    References:

    1. 14 Surprising Causes Of Dehydration Thorek Memorial Hospital | Jun 3, 2014 4:39:00 PM)
    2. https://www.sportsdietitians.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Fluids-in-sport.pdf
    3. https://collegeville.bebalancedcenters.com/blog/how-stress-effects-your-weight-and-more/

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