How Your Hormones Affect Your Weight Loss And Overall Health
Steps to Balance Your Hormones to Help Your Weight Loss Efforts
Your hormones play a major role in your metabolism and fat burning, so bringing your cortisol, estrogen, insulin, and leptin into balance is a great start in your quest to losing weight. Here are a few steps to take, to do just that.
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Release Tension – When you’re stressed, your cortisol levels are increasing. During emotionally stressful situations, find someone you can talk to and pour your feelings out. When you release your bottled-up emotions, you also release the tension. De-stress whenever possible and learn how to relax and stay calm.
Take Time Out – Find time to meditate, or at least find some ‘you’ time, where you can be alone and think calmly. When you take time to reflect on past events, you can analyze your actions and decisions. You can either resolve or accept the issue.
Drink Green Tea – Change your drinking habits to one that includes green tea, rather than coffee or alcoholic beverages. Green tea contains L-theanine, an amino acid which provides a calming effect, which helps fight anxiety and stress. It also has estrogen reduction properties contributed by its polyphenols that inhibit an enzyme responsible for producing estrogen.
Eat Foods Containing Magnesium – Magnesium-rich foods include green leafy vegetables, avocado, banana, nuts, seeds, legumes, and raw cacao. Magnesium is an important mineral that regulates adrenaline and cortisol and has a vital role in the production of the thyroid hormones. It calms your nervous system and reduces stress.
Adequate magnesium intake helps your muscles to relax and helps induce deep sleep. Regular sleeping habits are needed to maintain leptin sensitivity. Magnesium also helps lower blood sugar levels, thus controlling insulin levels.
Eat Foods High In Fiber – Foods with high fiber content reduce leptin production, estrogen concentration, and increase insulin sensitivity. They help you feel full, therefore reducing your appetite. The leptin hormone is triggered and sends the ‘stop eating’ signal to your brain.
Keep Hydrated – Drink plenty of water to keep hydrated. Dehydration leads to stress. Proper hydration has calming and soothing effects, so drink more water during times of intense stress. Take a full glass of water with 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar first thing in the morning to help keep your hormones in balance.
Relax – Try relaxation and massage. Learning relaxation techniques such as yoga can help manage stress reactions. Massage therapy can loosen tight muscles and improve blood circulation, thus supplying plenty of oxygen to your body.
Eat Probiotic Foods – Probiotic foods improve your gut health. Sources include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, kombucha, tempeh, pickles, or natto. Probiotics reduce stress levels and lessen anxiety, thus keeping your cortisol levels in a normal range and potentially in balance. Eliminate excess sugar or artificial sweeteners and processed foods from your diet.
Follow a High Protein, Low Carb, Healthy Fat Diet – Eating clean proteins provides your body with amino acids needed to produce certain hormones, such as insulin. However, grain or hormone-fed meats cause an estrogen overload. So be careful when buying your meat. Choose grass-fed or organic meats. If you choose proteins that are plant or marine-derived, your estrogen decreases.
Avoid These Foods – Avoid refined grains, hydrogenated oils, trans-fats, and processed foods to help keep your insulin and leptin hormones under control. Eat walnuts, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and fatty fish for their anti-inflammatory properties and omega 3 fatty acids. They reduce cortisol and adrenaline levels and increase leptin sensitivity.
Get Quality Sleep – Maintain your circadian rhythm. It does not only affect your sleep pattern but also your metabolism. Changes with your circadian clock can influence melatonin and cortisol. Keep a strict sleep schedule by going to bed and getting up at the same time each day. Take your meals regularly too, to better avoid leptin resistance.
Get Enough Exercise – Reset your insulin to normal levels and increase leptin sensitivity through physical activities, at least 30 minutes 5 days a week. Regular moderate exercise also increases dopamine levels (your ‘happy hormone’), while decreasing estrogen and cortisol levels.
The more you’re stressed, the more cortisol is produced and often also leaving you with an excess of estrogen. This makes you crave for your favorite foods, which quite probably include sweets and processed foods, which in turn affect your insulin and leptin hormone balances. Clean eating and maintaining your general wellbeing can alleviate the harmful effects of a hormonal imbalance and help you to lose weight.
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Your Hormones Could Be Affecting Your Weight Loss
You may be doing everything right in order to lose weight. You’re following all the rules hoping that in due time you will achieve your desired weight loss goal. However, no matter what you do, the stubborn fat just won’t leave your body. Despite all your efforts, you try to remain positive and continue to fight what appears to be a losing battle.
At some point, you may feel frustrated and with due cause! Well, don’t despair. You may be doing everything right, but your hormones could be the culprit, as your hormones can greatly affect the results of your weight loss efforts.
Almost anyone who has a problem with weight is possibly battling with a hormonal imbalance. Bringing your hormones back into balance is a great start to helping you reach your goals.
Four Hormones That May Be Out Of Balance
There are four hormones that make losing weight a real struggle, especially for women. They are cortisol, estrogen, insulin, and leptin.
Levels of cortisol, the “stress hormone” rise during stressful and tension-filled situations. Every time you are stressed, your body produces more cortisol. An overload of cortisol results in more stored fat, especially belly fat. High cortisol levels make you feel depressed, experience sugar cravings and can lead to food addictions.
It’s a vicious cycle. The more stressed you are, the higher your cortisol levels will become. Abnormally high levels of cortisol, or hypercortisolism, can cause Cushing syndrome, which is associated with disorders of the adrenal glands.
Estrogen is a female hormone, although it is also present in men, but at a lower level compared to women. Both men and women can be subject to estrogen dominance, and too much estrogen can create an imbalance.
There’s no set limit as to how much is too much. It’s relative to your other sex hormones. However, having too much estrogen makes you gain more weight because it can inhibit or block the thyroid hormone, which stimulates different metabolic processes in your body. If this happens, you may experience a slower metabolic rate.
Estrogen dominance results in more fat deposits, makes you retain excess water and causes bloating. It therefore becomes more difficult to lose weight because it stimulates fat and water retention. Even if you have managed to lose weight, you may gain it again quickly if you don’t keep your estrogen hormone levels in balance, or at what is considered to be within a normal range.
The hormone that regulates blood sugar or glucose in your body is the insulin hormone. Your pancreas produces insulin to help in the metabolism of glucose. It allows glucose to enter the cells to provide energy for your body. It is also a fat storing hormone.
When your body develops insulin resistance, your muscle cells are less able to absorb glucose. The glucose remains in your bloodstream, and your liver ultimately converts the unused glucose into body fat. It leads to pre-diabetes, a condition where your blood sugar is persistently higher than normal, but not as high as someone suffering from diabetes.
Leptin is a hormone produced by your body’s fat cells. It targets an area in the brain called the hypothalamus and sends a signal to let you know that you are full, and it’s time to stop eating.
The problem with most of the modern diets consumed today is that we are overloaded with foods that are full of simple carbohydrates, especially sugar.
Too much of these types of foods and our body converts them to body fat, which can lead to an excess of leptin being released. When leptin levels are persistently high, the brain starts to ignore the hormonal message. This, in turn, makes you become leptin resistant, which means your brain cannot detect the leptin signals, and you never feel full. You may even still feel hungry (or think you are) after eating a huge meal.
One reason why you keep eating the wrong kinds of food is because you develop cravings for these high-carb, sugar-laden foods. In the process, you gain more weight, and losing weight becomes your losing battle.
Knowing how your hormones work can help you to make some changes in your life. Get your hormones working how they should, and your journey to weight loss will not be as big a battle as before.
Your Hormone Diet Fix
Here’s a few simple questions for you to answer. Are you waking up in the morning and dragging yourself out of bed? Do you find it hard to concentrate mid-afternoon, and so reach for a cup of coffee to give you an added boost? Do you feel stressed at the end of the day? Do you feel hungry all the time?
If you’ve answered yes to some or all of these questions, then you may want to look at following a hormone-friendly diet, to get your hormones back in balance.
You have more control over your hormones than you probably realize. You don’t necessarily need a prescription to fix your hormones. One way to do this is through your diet, a hormone balancing one.
Here are a few hormones you can target through diet.
The Leptin Hormone
Leptin is one of the hormones produced by fat cells in the body. If your body has excess fat, you are more likely to develop leptin resistance. When this happens, your body doesn’t know when you’ve had enough to eat. Consequently, your body will think it’s starving, when in reality, it isn’t. What follows is a sluggish metabolism, and more weight gain.
Leptin is your anti-obesity hormone, so if you can keep it within normal levels and functioning at its best, you will find managing your weight easier too.
Your Leptin Diet Fix
One way to increase leptin sensitivity is to go gluten-free. Gluten is known to permeate through the intestinal walls, thereby affecting leptin sensitivity. Stay away from wheat, rye, and barley. Any foods that contain some amount of gluten should be avoided. Any food that contains sugar should be eliminated.
A no-sugar diet helps reverse leptin resistance. Loading up on foods that are great sources of probiotics and prebiotics is also important. A leptin-friendly diet should also be coupled with exercise.
The Ghrelin Hormone
Sometimes referred to as the ‘hunger hormone,’ it sends signals to the brain telling you to eat. Ghrelin levels in the body typically increase just before a meal, or when you haven’t eaten for an extended period of time. Then its levels go down soon after eating.
This hormone increases your appetite and in turn, makes you prone to seeking high-calorie foods. If your ghrelin levels are too high, you are more likely to feel hungry more often and find yourself eating when you don’t really need to.
Your Ghrelin Diet Fix
One of the best ways to lower the levels of ghrelin is to consume more protein. Protein promotes feelings of satiety and lets you feel full for a longer period of time. When you consume high-quality protein foods, your ghrelin levels will reduce.
Your cravings will also reduce, and it will be easier for you to resist sugary foods. Eggs, fish, oysters, and organic meats are examples of foods that are really satiating. Their protein helps promote feelings of fullness.
The main role of insulin is to pull extra glucose from your blood. It is one of the key players in your body’s metabolism. It regulates how the body uses and stores glucose and fats for energy. Over-consuming sugary foods will result in them being stored as fat. These fats will lead to excess pounds. If a sugar habit continues for a long period of time, there is a risk of becoming insulin resistant.
For as long as your pancreas produces insulin, and its levels are kept within a normal range, you will not be at risk of developing high or low blood sugar levels.
Your Insulin Diet Fix
Following a Mediterranean diet has been proven to improve insulin sensitivity. This diet emphasizes the consumption of whole, clean, unprocessed foods. When you eat more whole, high-fiber, and organic foods, it will be easier for you to manage your blood glucose levels.
Eat more fruits and vegetables that are high in fiber, but watch for plant-based foods that have a high glycemic index, or those that may cause a spike in your blood sugar levels.
Foods that are good sources of high-quality protein and omega 3 fatty acids are also beneficial for overcoming insulin resistance. Insulin resistance increases your risk of becoming diabetic. Avoid alcohol, fried foods, and sugar in all its forms.
Aside from sugar and refined flour, meat from factory-farmed animals can also be a hormone wrecker. Meat from these animals can contain hormones such as estradiol, zeranol, and trenbolone acetate – just to name a few.
The same is true of dairy products that come from these animals. They may have growth hormones that cause damage to a person’s immunological, endocrine and neurobiological health. Whenever possible, always opt for meat from farm-raised, grass-fed animals.
Once you have your hormone diet in place, watch the results. You will no doubt experience positive ones, that will encourage you to make this an ongoing lifestyle choice.
Superfoods for Balancing Hormones
If you suffer from a hormonal imbalance, or even if you just want to boost your hormonal health, you have to make sure you’re eating the right foods. The foods you eat will send a message to your hormones. Therefore, if you’re not eating right, chances are your body will be receiving the wrong messages.
Unfortunately, having a hormonal imbalance can cause a myriad of health problems. Some of these can include depression, infertility, obesity, hair loss, digestive problems, and weight problems. So if you want to take control, now you can. Start by adding a few ‘hormone balancing superfoods’ to your diet.
Flax seeds are known to help women balance their hormonal levels. Its active compounds help balance the ratio of progesterone and estrogen in the body. Maintaining a balance of these hormones can greatly benefit the thyroid, kidneys, and pancreas. These seeds are high in lignans content. These lignans function as phytoestrogens that work to reduce the level of high estrogen levels in the body.
Flax seeds are deemed a superfood in terms of their omega 3 content. They’re also a good source of magnesium, potassium, zinc, and phosphorus. These nutrients help balance hormones.
The fiber content in carrots is helpful in keeping estrogen level within a normal range. Eat a carrot daily and balance your hormones. Those who have problems with their digestion will also benefit from eating carrots. It’s also a great anti-cancer food.
Buckwheat is a great source of complex carbohydrates, which are important for tryptophan production in the body. Tryptophan is one of the prerequisites of serotonin production. Having the right levels of tryptophan and serotonin will help ensure that your hormones are kept in balance. They will also help your mood and memory.
Buckwheat is also known for its high levels of D-chiro-inositol. This is a vitamin-like substance found helpful in treating women who are suffering from diseases caused by a hormonal imbalance, such as polycystic ovary syndrome. Buckwheat is also gluten-free and contains B vitamins, all of which are important for hormone health.
Spirulina has high amounts of potassium, calcium, and magnesium. The hormone-balancing effects have been found beneficial in reducing cramps and improving mood. Inflammation and breast tenderness can also be reduced through regular consumption of spirulina.
Spirulina contains other high-quality nutrients such as vitamins A, E, K, B1, B2 and B6. It is also a complete protein. Yes, spirulina contains all the 8 essential amino acids that are important for your overall health. That’s a perfect reason to add this superfood to your list!
Avocados are a wonderful addition to your hormone diet. They contain plant sterols that help prevent the body from absorbing too much estrogen. The hormone balancing effects of avocados can also be attributed to their high, healthy, fatty acid content. These fatty acids serve as fundamental building blocks for hormone production. These plant sterols also aid in lowering cholesterol levels, making avocados an important part of any diet.
Since a hormonal imbalance can lead to weight gain, you can help prevent this from happening by eating more avocados. This is because avocados help increase your satiety levels while reducing your tendency to crave unhealthy foods.
Bee pollen is traditionally part of Chinese medicine. It is used for people who have low energy levels, increased cravings, and digestive issues. Bee pollen is rich in folic acid and B vitamins, which play a role in helping the body counter a hormonal imbalance.
Bee pollen has earned quite a good reputation among athletes and fitness enthusiasts. They refer to bee pollen as ‘the greatest food’ when it comes to building muscle. It builds muscles while increasing endurance and strength. Its ability to boost muscle strength is due to the 22 amino acids. Almost 50% of these can be assimilated quickly by the body for instant use.
Bee pollen also serves as a powerful brain booster. It reduces brain fatigue, improves mental alertness, and ability to focus.
Your hormone diet wouldn’t be complete without the inclusion of probiotics. Probiotics play a crucial role in the production, as well as regulation of ghrelin, insulin, and leptin. Rev up your body’s ability to produce and regulate hormones by making sure that you consume probiotics every day.
Great sources of probiotics are kefir, tempeh, miso, kombucha, and kimchi. With regular intake of probiotics, your immune system will also be improved. This is because up to 80% of your immune fighting microorganisms are produced in the gut. By keeping your digestive tract healthy through probiotics, you can be assured of a better fighting stance against any diseases.
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