I talk to women daily about a beast that has hidden in the closet and in boxes in the garage.
Hormones. Do your hormones have you running in all directions? Have you been trying to sort our your weight gain even when you are watching what you eat? Why are these hormones after you?
It's time to take some of the fear out of this word.
It's time to take a real look at what hormones are and how they effect us.
Did you know that your weight gain is directly connected to your hormones? This is a fact many of us forget as we travel along the often slow and frustrating road to weight loss. To maintain a weight that’s healthy for our unique bodies, a fine balance of hormones is required. If certain hormones are off-kilter, weight gain often results. But what are they?
Here are a few that we need to talk about.
INSULIN is one of the main gate keepers of our hormones when it comes to weight loss and weight gain. Made by the pancreas, insulin is responsible for storing blood sugar, or using sugar, depending upon your body’s needs of the moment.
After we eat a meal, a large amount of insulin releases itself into the bloodstream. It also enters the bloodstream as we require throughout the day, keeping blood sugar levels stable.
Another key function of this essential hormone is fat storage. Insulin decides how much fat to store, and how much to convert for energy. Extremely high levels of insulin can lead to insulin resistance, which is linked to a steady rise of blood sugar as well as continued elevated insulin levels.
If insulin levels remain high over an extended period of time, obesity and metabolic syndrome are often the unfortunate outcome.
When we eat too much sugar, too much fast food, and too many processed carbohydrates, insulin goes crazy. These elevated insulin levels lead to weight gain and inflammation. We have to limit our carb intake!
LEPTIN is another hormone that we have to understand if we’re serious about maintaining a healthy weight. You can think of leptin as the appetite suppressant hormone. Made within your fat cells, leptin is what makes you feel satiated. It will signal your brain, telling it when you feel hungry or full.
Leptin is like insulin in that it hates the wrong foods. Have you noticed how sweets and processed foods leave you feeling empty and wanting for more even after a short period of time? Eating trans fats and processed foods over the long term may lead to leptin resistance. There is no shut off going to the brain.
So what are we left to do?
Sugar, in particular, can lead to leptin levels in your body to go like a rocket. You must remove sugar from your diet.
Other ways to prevent or reduce leptin resistance include:
Eat a ketogenic, low carb diet.
Maximize your sleeping hours.
Light activities like walking, biking or swimming.
GHRELIN is the hunger hormone. Telling you when to eat is it's function. Ghrelin levels are lowest just after you’ve finished a meal. They’re at their highest when the stomach is empty and you’re ready for your next meal.
This scenario is normal when a person is healthy and maintaining optimal weight.
An overweight person, on the other hand, will find that — like the other hormones we’ve explored — ghrelin levels are typically out of whack. In healthy individuals, ghrelin levels decrease in a way that satiates them and signals their brains to stop eating. But in obese individuals, ghrelin levels don’t decrease enough after eating, which fails to send the brain the signal it needs to stop eating and feel satisfied.
How to balance ghrelin levels?
- Eat adequate amounts of protein. Protein helps you feel full and should be consumed with every meal.
- Remove sugar from diet. As you can see by now, consuming too much sugar disrupts hormonal balance, making weight loss seem an impossible goal. Be sure to read labels. If an item contains high-fructose corn syrup, don’t buy it. Believe me! It's in more than you know.
CORTISOL is the stress hormone. Our adrenals are responsible for cortisol. We need it to survive. However our lives are over stimulated and taxed with stress from all kinds of factors. Be it work, relationships, children, fear or anxiety. As a generation, we have an over abundance of stress. High production of cortisol is linked to over-eating. Have you ever noticed how you eat when you’re stressed?
Cortisol can leave you with added belly fat. Which is a visual sign you are insulin resistant. Are you beginning to see the relationship between you and your hormones?
Tips for healthy & balanced cortisol levels :
Do the things that relax you. Maybe it's taking an extra long bath, walking in the park, sewing, building projects, playing a musical instrument are just a few ideas.
Listen to your favourite music.
Take a daily Magnesium supplement.
Soak in an Epsom salt bath.
Take time to make and enjoy tea.
Sleep! Too many of us cut out on good quality sleep.
ESTROGEN promotes the storage of fat for healthy reproductive years. When estrogen is balanced, the right amount of fat helps carry out female reproductive functions. However, when there’s too little or too much estrogen, weight gain often results.
To balance estrogen levels naturally and prevent the weight gain:
Remember to eat your greens!
Keep active daily. Even the simplest workout will benefit you.
We can do so many things to make our bodies run much much better.
Taking the route of behavioral changes and diet modification is nature's way. With some plans put in place, taking a look at the way we relate to food during stress, how to manage stress, as well as learning the signals of our hormones
it is then that we can begin to have control and understanding of our hormones.