Key Hormones to (Successful) Weight Loss
The most common resolution for the New Year is to lose weight, which motivates many people to revise their diets and start an exercise program. However, weeks or months later, not seeing results, you may start wondering why the program that worked for someone else doesn’t work for you.
In my practice as a health coach, I have seen the same scenario every year: it seems like you are doing everything right but the pounds are not coming off.
It is important to understand that in order for the body to respond, it needs to be in a balanced state of health, without impairments weighing it down. There are few factors we need to understand, and correct, if the program is not working. I will talk about all of them in my future blog posts, but the most important is the endocrine system, which controls your hormones.
Your hormones are responsible for every single function in the body: sleep, metabolism, energy levels, libido, how well we respond to dietary changes, and many more. With balanced hormones, we not only look and feel good; we actually like ourselves.
I can’t stress enough how important it is that our endocrine system is well balanced, and that achieving such balance means different things for people of different genders and ages.
That being said, most people find the subject of hormones complicated and confusing. However, if we understand their basic primary functions, we can make changes in our lifestyles and diets to reset our hormones, thereby resetting our whole system.
The result – a lean, toned, body that we always wanted.
Let’s look at the key hormones that can hinder our efforts in losing weight, and what we can do to change it:
If you experience constant coldness, muscle cramps at night, morning fatigue, and puffy eyes/face, you may have a slow thyroid function. Such a condition can make it extremely difficult to drop pounds, regardless of how well you eat and how much you exercise. It is important to check with your primary physician the levels of thyroid hormones. You may have low levels of iodine, which is very important for healthy thyroid function. Also, keep in mind that chlorine and fluoride in drinking water rob the thyroid of iodine; as does toothpaste with added fluoride. By filtering tap water and buying fluoride-free toothpaste you can make a first step to supporting your thyroid.
Elevated cortisol levels can put the brakes on weight loss, too. Most of us deal with stress all the time on an ongoing basis. We almost get used to it and often don’t realize its damaging effects on our health. Stress, however, elevates cortisol in the body, and too much cortisol may result in storing fat faster and releasing it slower, especially around the belly. An excess of cortisol increases cravings, especially for sweets..
The irony is that type-A personalities, who already have higher levels of cortisol, usually sleep less and exercise more, sometimes starting as early as 5am. That creates even more stress, and thus produces more cortisol in an already-stressed body.
What are the solutions for those who cannot avoid daily stress?
Cutting down on stimulants like coffee and alcohol helps to avoid cortisol spikes. Switching to yoga from high-intensity workouts saves the body from additional stress. Adding 10 to 20 minutes of meditation, daily, reduces stress even further. And my favorite remedy for dealing with stress is a warm bath with Epsom salt and lavender oil before bed.
Another weight trigger is insulin. The function of insulin is to help process sugar which is used as a source of energy in a body. However, too much insulin caused by low quality carbohydrates and sugars (in the standard American diet), excess of alcohol, and a sedentary lifestyle can attribute to insulin resistance. That can be the cause of obesity by itself, type 2 diabetes, and many more other health issues.
The solution? Reduce sugar in your diet, including alcohol. Replace nutrition-less carbohydrates, like white rice, bread and pasta, with lean protein, healthy fats and vegetables. Switch your brain from counting calories to counting how much sugar you consume each day. In addition, taking two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before meals may help to balance blood glucose levels for people with insulin resistance.
Estrogen & Testosterone
Our hormones constantly fluctuate, depending on our age, gender, the foods we eat and lifestyles. For women who have had children, it becomes more difficult to shed off those pregnancy pounds. And when they reach menopausal years, that weight loss becomes “mission impossible” for many. Too much estrogen can be to blame.
Men get affected too. According to Dr. Paul Ling Tai, many men after fifty have more estrogen than 20-year-old women, and it may manifest itself in softer, fuller breasts and rounder belly. As estrogen levels increase with aging, the testosterone levels, to the contrary, decrease. Due to this, both genders can experience a struggle to maintain or build muscle mass, have stamina, and to keep excess body fat off.
Dietary and lifestyle changes can definitely improve your hormonal levels. Since the liver regulates estrogen and testosterone levels, it is important to keep this detoxification organ in great shape. I like an annual liver cleanse to make it more efficient. Fresh vegetable juices, especially beet, provide constant support to our liver which is working so hard to process toxins and stress.
If you consume animal protein, it is important that it comes from grass-fed animals, to avoid the additional hormones added to conventional animals. Also, buying organic produce helps to avoid pesticides and chemicals, which can act as disruptors of our delicate hormonal balance. In addition, make sure your digestion and elimination work well, and you manage your stress levels with a good night of restful sleep.
To check which systems in your body are in need of support or detoxification, I suggest a Bio-Energetic testing, Bio-Scan, which helps to reveal many internal triggers so we can create a more specific, individualized plan to reach your wellness goals faster.
With the balanced endocrine system, not only can you have the body you love, but also a life that brings you confidence and joy.
1. Johnston C, Kim C, Buller A, “Vinegar Improves Insulin sensitivity to a High-Carbohydrate Meal in Subjects With Insulin Resistance or Type 2 Diabetes”
2. Dr. Paul Ling Tai, “8 Powerful Secrets to Anti-Aging”
3. Sara Gootfried MD, “The Hormone Reset Diet”