How Your Hormones Can Sabotage Weight Loss
By Meghan Marfise
But I’ve tried everything and I eat so healthy!
The story is so familiar and oh so frustrating for many women. It goes something like this: a girl and her beau decide to start “eating healthy” together, or to go on some type of detox or cleanse. Fantastic idea! Her man is on board and she’s so excited to have his support! The woman in this story is eating like a rock star – no gluten, dairy, sugar, or anything processed (but she eats pretty healthy anyway). The guy, who normally eats a tad worse than his lady (or if you’re me, imagine your man receiving marinara sauce intravenously), decides he too is going to stop drinking beer and change up his diet. Fast forward three weeks and the results are in…
The woman in this story has lost a whopping 1.5 lbs, while her man is complaining that his pants won’t stay up and he’s down 12 lbs!
Oh, the struggle to appear to be happy for him whilst simultaneously shooting laser death-stares at him every time he talks about his wardrobe malfunctions. Seriously, dude?
Why is it so easy for some to lose weight, while others seem to do everything right and their weight doesn’t budge? I’ve got one possible culprit for you: HORMONES.
Hormones don’t just control periods, fertility and menopause, rather, they govern everything from hunger, to satiety, to blood sugar balance. If your hormones are out of whack, there’s a good chance that you may struggle with weight loss.
Here are just a few of the many hormones that directly affect weight gain or loss:
1. Cortisol: The “stress hormone,” produced in times of perceived stress or danger, either emotional or physical (note, worrying about paying bills, anxiety at work and yes, even firing laser death-stares at your significant other causes the release of cortisol). When cortisol is released, it also increases your blood sugar, triggering a simultaneous increase in insulin that can cause insulin resistance (more on that in a bit). Cortisol also increases abdominal fat.
Abdominal fat has four times the amount of cortisol receptors as other places in the body! Hello muffin top! And what about your sweet tooth and/or carb cravings? Yup, you guessed it, these can be caused by an increase in cortisol. To make matters even worse, cortisol breaks down muscle for energy. Since muscle helps your metabolism, less muscle equals a slower metabolism and more weight gain. No bueno.
2. Ghrelin: A.K.A the “hunger hormone”. This guy makes you want to eat more (I like to to think of it as “Gremlin,” those little monsters in the movie who always pigged out and ate everything in site!). Ghrelin forms a feedback loop to your brain to let you know when you are hungry. If this system becomes imbalanced, then ghrelin can become elevated and you’ll find yourself constantly standing in front of the fridge and wanting to snack.
3. Insulin: Regulates your body’s blood sugar (glucose). You don’t have to have diabetes for it become a problem. Too much insulin can cause insulin resistance, which means your cells have become numb to insulin and glucose can’t get into the cells to be used for energy. If you are insulin resistant, weight loss is dramatically more difficult. The short version of what happens here is that you will start storing glucose (blood sugar) as fat, as opposed to burning it for fuel.
5 Ways to Maximize Weight Loss and Have Blissfully Balanced Hormones
1. Hormone Testing. Getting a saliva based hormone lab test done. Saliva based labs are more accurate than serum labs for hormones and will be a good starting point to see if things are out of whack.
2. Stress Reduction. Try incorporating stress reduction exercises. This can be anything from breathing exercises, to daily meditation, yoga, lunchtime walks in the park, or writing in a journal. Whatever it is, make sure it is something that helps you to feel calm, cool and collected. Adaptogenic herbs such, as rhodiola or ashwagandha can help regulate cortisol levels as well.
3. Sleep. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation increases ghrelin and body fat storage, so be sure to get a at least 7-8 hours of restful sleep each night. This means that you shouldn’t need caffeine to get you moving in the morning and if you do, try a green juice instead!
4. Get off the Blood-Sugar Rollercoaster. You don’t want huge spikes and valleys in your blood sugar after you eat, rather, you want it to be a low rolling hill. The best way to do this is by eating whole, real foods that don’t contain processed sugar. Having a combination of protein, fat and fiber with every meal will reduce any potential blood sugar “crashes.”
5. Chromium. Supplementing with the mineral, chromium (200-1,000 mcg/day) has been shown to lower insulin and glucose levels as well as help reverse insulin resistance.
These suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg for creating blissfully, balanced hormones. For more advice, hormone testing and individualized protocols, I encourage you to work with a knowledgeable health practitioner who specializes in hormone health or weight loss issues.
Meghan Marfise is a Women's Holistic Health Coach and founder of BlissfullyBalanced Life, a company dedicated to balancing all things hormone related! This includes period issues, preparing for conception, enhancing fertility naturally, increasing sex-drive, weight loss and much more! Meghan’s nurturing demeanor and inquisitive nature, helps her in her passion of finding and treating the root cause of health conditions, not just the symptoms.
Through her step-by-step protocols and her online Blissfully Balanced Hormone E-Course, Meghan supports clients locally and internationally by taking a holistic approach that uses nutrition, herbs and supplements, as well as lifestyle adjustments to help women feel glorious, energized and glowing again. She also trains other health coaches and alternative healers in hormone balancing protocols to use with their clients.
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