Anabolic Hormones Function

Written by Ben Bunting: BA, PGCert. (Sport & Exercise Nutrition) // British Army Physical Training Instructor // S&C Coach.


Anabolic hormones play a crucial role in the body's metabolism and tissue repair processes.

These hormones are responsible for promoting growth, building muscle mass, and regulating various bodily functions.

Understanding the functions of anabolic hormones can provide valuable insights into the body's intricate mechanisms and how they contribute to overall health and well-being.

What are anabolic hormones?

Anabolic hormones are a group of hormones that promote growth and tissue repair in the body.

They are responsible for stimulating protein synthesis, which is the process of building new proteins in the body.

These hormones play a crucial role in regulating metabolism, promoting muscle growth, and maintaining overall health.

Some examples of anabolic hormones include testosterone, insulin, and growth hormone.

Understanding the functions of these hormones can help individuals optimize their health and fitness goals.


Testosterone is produced in your gonads (sex organs), such as your testicles in men or ovaries in women, to stimulate male characteristics development.

Testosterone also occurs naturally in adrenal glands of both genders and can be converted to estrogen via other hormones like dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA).

High levels of testosterone help ensure normal fetal development during puberty as well as male sexual function in adults.

Producing sperm production requires testosterone production for men while supporting muscle growth is equally essential in men and women alike.

Low testosterone (Low-T) levels naturally decline with age, yet in some people their levels drop below what would be considered healthy levels.

This condition is known as andropause and most often affects men more than women, however, abnormally low testosterone is referred to as hypogonadism.

Low T may result in symptoms including loss of muscle bulk, hair loss and wrinkled "parchment" skin appearance; additionally it can also decrease libido.

Anabolic steroids may be prescribed as part of an individual's treatment plan for increased muscle mass and strength, with synthetic drugs manufactured in labs designed to mimic male sexual hormone testosterone being commonly taken orally as tablets or capsules or injected as liquid.

Anabolic steroids are frequently misused by athletes under pressure in order to enhance performance; they may also be part of treatment plans for cancer or HIV infections.

Anabolic steroid use interfer's with a person's natural testosterone production and can have dire health repercussions, including heart attacks, stroke and liver disease.


Estrogen is a steroid hormone that plays an essential role in maintaining cholesterol levels, bone health and mood regulation.

It's found in higher concentrations among females of childbearing age and responsible for pubertal growth spurt and epiphyseal closure (which limits height and limb length), menstruation cycle regulation during pregnancy and menopause.

Its production occurs within ovaries, placenta, fat tissue as well as through aromatase enzyme conversion from androstenedione via aromatase enzyme; and most importantly estrone (E1) is produced within these organs after menopause which plays an active role during gestation.

Female estrogens play an integral part in building and maintaining the endometrium (the lining of the uterus).

Estrogens affect cell size, number and type, blood flow, protein content and enzyme activity as well as contractile muscle activity during menstruation and labor and delivery.

Additionally they can stimulate vaginal secretions of thick, sticky mucus which helps facilitate sperm transport.

In 1986 it was discovered that estrogens act on cells via receptor proteins called estrogen receptors.

The initial estrogen receptor, known as ER alpha was isolated and later two other variants (ER beta and ER delta) were discovered; one subtype, known as the latter being more sensitive than its counterpart (ER alpha subtype).

Studies have demonstrated that when body's supply of estrogen drops below certain thresholds, muscle protein depletion occurs and anabolic hormone stimulation decreases.

But long-term studies have also demonstrated that estrogen replacement therapy increases muscle protein synthesis as well as improving sensitivity to anabolic hormones.

This may explain why postmenopausal women prescribed estrogen replacement therapy experience greater increases in muscle mass than non-ERT users. Such therapy helps prevent osteoporosis and other complications related to aging.


Insulin can be an invaluable aid for bodybuilders as it allows the muscles to absorb glucose quickly and efficiently, increasing glycogen formation to give muscles fullness and density.

Furthermore, insulin inhibits hormone-sensitive lipase which breaks down fatty tissue into energy sources that can be burned off for energy production.

Insulin may be best known for burning fat, but it also has powerful muscle-building properties that make it popular with bodybuilders.

Higher doses can increase insulin levels temporarily and trigger an anabolic state for short periods.

Many use off-label (taking insulin for non-diabetic reasons) use of this medication; however, taking too much can result in dangerous hypoglycemia - potentially fatal condition.

In order to optimize muscle growth, it's crucial that one understands exactly how insulin works and when its effect will have the greatest benefit.

For example, taking insulin prior, during and post workout can increase blood sugar levels to help fuel muscles more effectively. Furthermore, low glycemic carbohydrates that release slowly provide longer anabolic benefits than their immediate counterparts.

A 2006 study demonstrates that insulin can also help increase protein synthesis in muscles. A recent study demonstrated this by showing insulin infusion into one leg caused significant increases in myogenin and myoD mRNA expression while simultaneously suppressing expression of myogenic regulatory factor 4.

This suggests insulin's ability to stimulate muscle protein synthesis through increasing blood flow to muscles and access to amino acids.

Growth Hormone

Growth hormone (GH) is a protein hormone produced in the pituitary gland at the base of the brain and released through blood circulation throughout each day to assist growth and energy utilization by our bodies.

GH fluctuates throughout each day depending on factors like exercise, sleep quality and emotional stress levels; its level also regulates how fat, glucose and other nutrients are utilized as energy by the body.

Multiple factors can impact growth, from nutrition and hormones such as thyroid-stimulating hormone to adrenocorticotropic hormone and growth hormone (GH).

But of all these influences, growth hormone (GH) has the most profound impact on human development from early childhood through to adolescence.

It influences bone development, muscle mass development and height increases, metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins and regulation of human cells' survival signals.

Adults benefit from taking growth hormone to help regulate their sugar and lipid (fat) metabolisms. GH promotes protein synthesis while decreasing protein oxidation.

Additionally it increases fat cell uptake of glycerol for use in breaking down triglycerides; finally it blocks insulin's action on circulation sugar to lower blood sugar levels.

Deficient levels of growth hormone (GH) are often caused by damage to the pituitary gland or hypothalamus, leading to either abnormally fast or slow growth in children - even gigantism in some cases.

Adults may be affected by reduced muscle mass, cholesterol levels and bone density resulting from deficiency; tests for GH can help doctors detect pituitary tumors or conditions causing low GH levels - such as acromegaly.

The role of anabolic hormones in metabolism

Anabolic hormones play a vital role in regulating metabolism in the body.

Metabolism refers to the chemical processes that occur within cells to convert food into energy such as anabolic endergonic reactions.

These hormones, such as insulin and growth hormone, help to regulate the rate at which nutrients are broken down and utilized by the body.

They promote the uptake and storage of glucose, amino acids, and fatty acids, which are essential for energy production and tissue repair.

By optimizing the function of anabolic hormones, individuals can support a healthy metabolism and achieve their fitness and weight management goals.

How anabolic hormones promote tissue repair

Anabolic hormones, such as growth hormone and insulin, play a crucial role in promoting tissue repair in the body.

When tissues are damaged, whether through exercise-induced micro-tears or injury, anabolic hormones help to stimulate the repair process.

These hormones promote the synthesis of new proteins, which are essential for rebuilding and strengthening damaged tissues.

They also enhance the uptake of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, into cells, providing the necessary resources for tissue repair.

Additionally, anabolic hormones help to regulate inflammation, reducing excessive inflammation that can hinder the healing process.

By promoting tissue repair, anabolic hormones contribute to overall recovery and the maintenance of healthy tissues.

The impact of anabolic hormones on muscle growth

Anabolic hormones have a significant impact on muscle growth in the body.

These hormones, such as testosterone and growth hormone, stimulate protein synthesis and increase the production of new muscle tissue as outlined in this 1985 study.

They also enhance the uptake of amino acids into muscle cells, providing the necessary building blocks for muscle growth.

Additionally, anabolic hormones help to reduce muscle breakdown, known as sarcopenia, preserving existing muscle mass.

This combination of increased protein synthesis and decreased muscle breakdown leads to an overall increase in muscle size and strength.

Regular exercise, particularly resistance training, can further enhance the effects of anabolic hormones on muscle growth.

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Other functions of anabolic hormones in the body

In addition to their role in muscle growth, anabolic hormones also play a crucial role in regulating metabolism.

They help to increase the body's metabolic rate, leading to increased energy expenditure and fat burning.

This can be particularly beneficial for individuals looking to lose weight or improve body composition.

Anabolic hormones also promote tissue repair and regeneration, aiding in the healing of injuries and the recovery process after intense exercise.

Furthermore, these hormones have been shown to have positive effects on bone density, promoting bone growth and reducing the risk of osteoporosis. However, conversley, taking anabolic steroids can cause anabolic osteoporosis.

Overall, anabolic hormones have a wide range of functions in the body beyond just muscle growth, making them essential for overall health and well-being.

How Do Anabolic Hormones Function?

Anabolic processes in the body produce complex molecules such as bone growth and muscle mass gain; energy for these anabolic reactions comes from catabolic reactions which break down molecules to form simpler ones.

Uninformed or misinformed athletes sometimes turn to anabolic steroids as a means to enhance their performance, leading to masculinization of females or feminization of males, increasing health risks, as well as possible medical complications.

Here are a few key anabolic hormone benefits:

Protein Synthesis

Proteins are large macromolecules encoded by DNA to perform specific activities within cells.

Their actions range from aiding chemical reactions and transporting materials within the cell to providing physical structure.

Proteins may be manufactured within the body (for instance digestive enzymes) or consumed through food and are essential building blocks of living organisms, essential for growth, cell reproduction, homeostasis maintenance, immune function as well as many other biological processes.

Protein synthesis, otherwise known as translation, involves reading the code contained within mRNA to synthesize amino acid chains.

Each letter of this code corresponds with specific amino acid bases which are then translated by ribosomes into translated proteins which then get folded up to become functional proteins that will then be post-translatedally modified and stored as reserves within cells.

Skeletal muscle is the largest reservoir of amino acids in the body and accounts for an estimated 89% of anabolic proteins produced in our bodies.

Protein intake is often discussed among bodybuilders and health enthusiasts as it may help build muscle or shed fat.

However, its relationship to anabolism or catabolism cannot simply be altered through increasing or decreasing consumption alone.

Understanding the mechanisms governing amino acid usage as energy, synthesis and repair is important.

When proteins are broken down for energy use by cells, metabolites from them will then be used by other parts of the body - this may result in decreased amino acid availability leading to protein degradation that reduces healing capabilities for wounds.

Muscle Growth

Muscle hypertrophy requires an adequate supply of anabolic hormones.

These hormones stimulate protein synthesis, allowing muscle fibers to expand by lengthening or widening their cross-sectional area within each myofibril; myonuclei are key players here and they're nourished by growth hormone.

Resistance training helps increase anabolic hormones like testosterone. Androstenedione (andro) is another anabolic steroid that builds muscle. Some athletes and weight lifters take andro to gain strength for competitive success in their respective sports.

Hormones are chemical messengers that travel throughout our bodies to distribute instructions to distant cells and bring about change orchestrated by the brain.

Anabolic hormones - testosterone and growth hormone specifically - play an essential role in muscle growth; stimulating protein synthesis to allow muscle tissue to expand while becoming firmer over time.

Catabolic hormones promote muscle breakdown. Cortisol, for example, is released in response to real or perceived physical stress and moderate exercise may induce it, leading the body to break down muscle tissue for fuel while decreasing immunity function.

Poor diet choices, lack of sleep and psychological distress all increase cortisol production which negatively impacts strength training and muscle development.

Staying anabolic requires three key requirements: adequate training stimulus, nutrition and rest.

For best results, aim for three or four days of targeted muscle-group exercises each week, followed by high-protein meals post workout and quality sleep.

In order to prevent protein breakdown and preserve muscle mass by eating more calories than you burn - so aim for three or four workout days per week using different forms of exercises that target different major muscle groups.

To stay anabolic: you need adequate training stimulus, adequate nutrition and plenty of rest - in other words consuming more calories than you expend.

Bone Growth

Bone growth, mineralization and ossification are anabolic processes that result in more bone being formed than is broken down by osteoclasts.

The rate of bone buildup depends on osteoblast activity as well as substances like parathyroid hormone (PTH), calcitonin, retinol testosterone and other sex hormones.

Their actions all combine to ensure adequate density strength and mass in bone density strength and mass.

A balance must exist between bone formation and resorption for optimal density strength and mass in bone mass density strength and mass development.

Adolescence marks an increase in long bone length through both appositional growth and by adding bone tissue at the epiphyseal plate, as well as widening due to ossification and periosteal growth.

Growth hormone stimulates ossification while androgens spur on periosteal expansion.

Testosterone plays an essential role in both male and female skeletal growth by increasing bone mineral density, stimulating periosteal expansion, stimulating muscle development which then puts more stress strain onto bone tissue causing formation/resorption cycles at work simultaneously.

Anabolic steroid misuse can have severe health repercussions, including increased risks of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, cholesterol elevations, liver damage, kidney failure and diabetes. Furthermore, its misuse may contribute to psychiatric issues like mood swings, anxiety or depression.


Proper balance between anabolism and catabolism - processes which build or break down tissues) is vital for wound healing.

Anabolic hormones like growth hormone and testosterone promote protein synthesis while catabolic ones like adrenaline and cortisol inhibit it.

Multiple studies suggest that restoration or improvement of net tissue anabolism after injury through manipulation of hormonal environments results in improved wound healing outcomes.

Anabolic steroids are androgens that increase protein within muscle cells and result in greater muscle mass.

Health care providers prescribe anabolic steroids to treat medical conditions such as delayed puberty in boys or muscle loss from certain diseases.

When they're misused by individuals they risk experiencing problems like enlargement of both male scrotums and breasts as well as fluid retention that leaves muscles looking soft or softened bloated; other health complications could arise as well.

Anabolic steroids present a substantial risk of liver and kidney damage if taken orally, while prolonged abuse can result in physical addiction that requires medical supervision for withdrawal

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