I come across many people that feel they have tried everything to lose weight – they’re eating "healthy” and working out like crazy, but are frustrated because the scale won’t budge.
Does this sound like you?
The good news is, it’s not just you! When you’re eating light and exercising hard but not losing weight (especially if you’re stressed, working long hours, and sometimes skipping breakfast in-lieu of coffee!), your hormones are likely imbalanced. And when your hormones are off, weight loss is that much harder. So first, you must BALANCE YOUR HORMONES.
Here are 5 HORMONES that impact your weight-loss, and some tips for optimizing them:
1. CORTISOL. A.k.a the “stress hormone”. Your body produces cortisol when it senses stress. And while it’s often necessary, too much cortisol means your body is spending a lot of time in “fight or flight mode” vs. “rest and digest” mode. Your body is storing fat instead of burning fat. Excess cortisol usually leads to excess abdominal fat (the worst kind for your health), sugar and carb cravings, and can even break-down muscle tissue (terrible for weight-loss!).
Tip for balancing cortisol levels: Find ways to manage stress – take deep breaths in and out when you feel stressed (I use 4-count breaths), incorporate 10 minutes of mediation into your day, practice yoga, cut back on stimulants like coffee and sugar, and do light exercise regularly – even 20-minute power walks are great!
2. INSULIN. Insulin is secreted when you eat sugar (and foods that convert to sugar) in order to regulate the level of glucose in your blood. Too much insulin production can lead to insulin resistance, which naturally leads to excess sugar in your blood. This sugar gets stored as fat, making weight-loss extremely difficult.
Tips for balancing insulin: Avoid high-sugar, low-fiber foods that spike your blood-glucose (especially refined carbs containing white flour and/or sugar); instead, eat balanced meals containing lots of fiber, protein and veggies! Also, drinking water with apple cider vinegar before a high-carb meal is said to help reduce blood glucose levels, preventing insulin spikes.
3. GHRELIN & LEPTIN. Ghrelin is the hormone that your body produces to signal hunger, while leptin signals that you're satiated. If you’re still hungry after a decent meal, that’s likely an indication that you have elevated ghrelin levels.
Tips for lowering ghrelin and boosting leptin: Get more sleep! Lack of sleep can increase ghrelin levels and lower leptin. I recommend 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night. Even one night of not enough sleep can raise ghrelin, making you excessively hungry! Also, eating balanced meals and starting your day with a high fiber and protein meal can help prevent leptin resistance.
4. ADIPONECTIN. This is the hormone produces in your fat cells that boosts your metabolism and tells your body to burn fat! Unfortunately, usually the more fat you have, the lower levels of adiponectin.
Tips for raising adiponectin levels: Magnesium can help boost your adiponectin levels, so try increasing your intake of magnesium-rich foods, including spinach, pumpkin seeds and dark chocolate. Eating more healthy fats like avocados, chia and flax seeds, extra virgin olive oil and wild salmon, while cutting back on simple starches, sugar and saturated animal fat, will help you burn excess fat, also boosting adiponectin. Lastly, intermittent fasting has been linked to higher adiponectin levels.
5. THYROID HORMONES (T3 & T4). Thyroid hormones impact your metabolism, energy, mood and more! Too little thyroid hormones (a.k.a hypothyroid) usually means your metabolic function becomes impaired, resulting in weight gain.
Tips for balancing your thyroid hormones: Iodine is used to produce these hormones, so eating iodine-rich foods like seaweed will boost your thyroid hormones. Also, getting adequate sleep, managing stress, reducing fluoride, checking for mercury toxicity, and having adequate levels of vitamin D, zinc, selenium and iron are all key. But the best treatment will depend on your particular case, so get your thyroid hormones checked to determine the best course of action for you.
If you didn’t notice, there is a lot of overlap here. STRESS, combined with LACK OF SLEEP and too many stimulants like COFFEE and SUGAR, lead to an increase in your cortisol, insulin, ghrelin, and a decrease in your leptin, adiponectin, and thyroid hormones. All of which prevent weight loss.
Regardless, I suggest you get your hormones checked (especially your thyroid) and work with a functional medicine doctor and/or Health Coach to help guide you. Because while these dietary and lifestyle suggestions help A LOT, some healthy supplementation can help jump-start that hormonal balance linked to your weight loss, and having some guidance is key.
If you want to learn more or are curious on how I can support you on this journey, contact me.
Love and Hormones,