Many women who are actively pursuing weight loss come up against road blocks which cause them to get frustrated and discouraged. Often they are doing everything right: eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, and sleeping well. But still, some women can’t seem to shed those pounds—or even ounces!
In these cases, it’s important to take a look at what else is going on in a woman’s body that is related to weight loss but not quite as obvious as healthy living habits. One of the first places to go is hormones.
Hormones are those little regulatory chemical messengers that are transported throughout your body, triggering your brain to control bodily functions and make adjustments. These can range anywhere from sending messages to your uterus that it’s time for your period each month to telling you that you’re hungry. Hormones are running the show when it comes to your metabolism and blood sugar stabilization.
Normally functional hormones provide stability and balance in the body. But when hormone production and function goes awry, everything can be thrown out of whack.
Everything, including weight balance.
Hormones May Be the Reason You Can’t Lose Weight
Four hormones in your body may be mostly responsible for whether you are—or are not—able to lose weight while living a healthy lifestyle.
Estrogen — the Insulin Regulator
Responsible for the way people respond to eating and drinking, estrogen isn’t just a women’s hormone although women do have more of it than men. Even post-menopausal women who have lower estrogen levels may suffer from estrogen dominance if their progesterone levels are significantly lower than their estrogen levels. While estrogen can keep a woman’s body balanced by managing blood sugar, if it is thrown off then your body can become resistant to insulin and begin expand your fat tissue to store glucose.
What to do about estrogen imbalance? Veggies, veggies, and more veggies. Fiber is a significant help in promoting your body’s ability to remove estrogen through your excretory system and level out the hormones. Also, lowering the amount of meat intake can help because modern day trends of meat production can often cause an overload of estrogen in a woman’s body. Replacing meat with fiber-filled vegetables helps to balance this out. Broccoli Sprouts may be particularly helpful as they contain DIM (di-indolyl-methane) which can help with detoxification, particularly of estradiol. Also consider a liver detox. The liver is responsible for breaking down estrogen metabolites in the body, and when your liver is overwhelmed with other toxins, it can be challenging to metabolize estrogen efficiently. Consider a liver detox twice a year for a week, or even add milk thistle and dandelion root tea to your daily supplemental routine along with fresh lemon juice in warm water each morning.
Adiponectin — the Fat Melter
Studies have shown that the higher your levels of this hormone, the better your body is able to burn fat and remain slim. But women who are larger may have even lower levels of this hormone, which causes extreme frustration.
So what can you do about it? Magnesium is actually a trigger for production of Adiponectin, which means that increasing your intake of this trace mineral through diet and/or supplements can be an effective start. Green leafy veggies, and seeds (pumpkin, for instance) can help boost your magnesium which may trigger your body’s production of this important hormone.
Ghrelin – the Hunger Trigger
This hormone tells your body that it’s time to eat. Whether or not you have just eaten! If you find yourself craving foods even after you’ve just eaten—particularly in the evening—your body is likely confused and producing too much Ghrelin hormone.
What can you do about it? Sleep and rest may reduce the amount of this hunger hormone in your body. Even just the smallest amounts of missed sleep may trigger increased levels of ghrelin and prompt the body to begin storing fat. Allow yourself 7-8 hours of sleep each night to feel well-rested, and see how your body responds by helping out your weight loss efforts.
Cortisol — the Stress Responder
Almost everyone is overloaded by stress these days, but who knew that it could be the reason you can’t lose weight? Your body’s response to stress is to release cortisol, which helps you in a dangerous fight-or-flight situation. However, when you’re just sitting in traffic or stressing over paperwork, the elevation of cortisol can work against you. This hormone can not only break down muscle tissue, but also contributes to cravings for carbs and sweets. High levels of this hormone will trigger your body to store more fat in the belly area, and are also linked to depression (which triggers overeating).
How can you cut cortisol? Start by cutting out caffeine. Sure, it’s hard at first, but completely worth it in the long run. (And if you substitute Matcha tea for your daily coffee habit, you’ll be on the right track!) Be sure that you are exercising to reduce stress. And try breathing or meditation exercises to minimize the impact of stress on your body and reduce the amount of cortisol produced.
How to Balance Hormones for Optimal Weight Loss
Balancing hormones can be difficult and these tips are a good start to reclaiming your energy levels and reaching the target weight you want to be. Be kind and gentle to yourself throughout the process, remembering that you didn’t get out of balance overnight and rebalancing may take some time. Begin with healthy habits and you’ll begin to flourish.
If you are not sure where to start on this journey, I highly recommend assessing your stress levels. Cortisol is in direct communication with estrogen and your thyroid hormones to throw your metabolism off track in times of stress. I would also focus on these Top 6 Recommendations for moving the needle:
- Stay hydrated! We often confuse hunger for thirst. Keep a water bottle with you at all times.
- Eat the color of the Rainbow, especially leafy greens: Kale, Spinach, Lettuces, Chard.
- Supplement: Magnesium, DIM, B Vitamin and Omega-3-Fatty Acids are a must for happy hormones and weight loss.
- Weight-bearing exercises keep the calorie fires burning. Women must maintain or increase lean muscle mass to continue to burn fat and protect bones.
- Reduce your toxic load: read your labels, drink out of glass, use natural personal and household cleaners, remove processed foods and reduce stress levels.
- Become a zen master by reducing stress. Five minute meditations are great to reduce stress and use essential oils to support mood and sleep.
These hormone weight loss tips are a great place to start for balancing your hormones, but you may find that you need some more guidance on this journey. I know that I did when I was working to balance my hormones several years ago. For the past six months I have been working with over 30+ experts to provide you resources, tips and blueprints for creating balance for your body and in your life. This free online event is designed to get you grounded, empowered and healthy.