The Weight Loss – Hormone Connection: The Key To Getting Rid Of Excess Fat (For Good)
It is estimated that 45 million Americans go on a diet every year. It is also estimated that 75% of diets fail.
In 2017, the diet and weight loss industry was at a whopping 68.2 billion dollars (and that number is only rising).
When will we, as a culture, stop searching for the quick fix or magic pill for weight loss? These quick fixes lead to long-term damage, which we are seeing first hand in our Adrenal ReCode program. Individuals are coming from a background of dieting (especially the ketogenic diet), restricted eating (intermittent fasting), and jumping from one quick fix to another all in hopes of finally losing that weight for good.
These trendy diets include:
- HCG diet
- Ketogenic diet
- Fasting diet
- And 21-day detox programs (to name a few)
What do these diets not address? Our hormones.
Hormones are the key to lasting weight loss and achieving natural balance within the entire nervous system.
When our hormones are off balance, we can eat only 500 calories and be on a treadmill all day and we won’t lose any weight. We also won’t have any energy, won’t be able to sleep, and we’ll be super irritable.
Eating less and exercising more as a path to weight loss has been debunked and we now know that we must tune in to our bodies and balance them from within.
5 Key Hormones To Focus On For Lasting Weight Loss
There are five key hormones that must be balanced, if we are to maintain healthy body weight with ease, once and for all—and consequentially, have deep sleep, steady energy, healthy digestion, immunity, and that natural glow to our skin, eyes, hair, and nails that hormonal balance brings.
These 5 hormones are:
- Thyroid hormone(s)
Individually, these hormones are all unique and have different roles within the body; together they create balance and harmony which allows us to achieve our natural body weight and a healthy, harmonious experience of life.
1. Thyroid Hormone(s)
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped organ at the base of the neck and is most well known for regulating our metabolism. The two main thyroid hormones are T3 and T4, which influence the activity of all the cells in the body.
Stress (cortisol) and undereating or eating the wrong foods can be detrimental to our thyroid and halt the production of thyroid hormone.
Symptoms of low thyroid include:
- Weight gain
- Brain fog
- And brittle nails
Cortisol is the main stress hormone in the body, produced by the adrenal glands. While cortisol is absolutely necessary for our body, there can be too much of a good thing.
Symptoms of high cortisol include:
- Trouble sleeping through the night
- Anxiousness and anxiety
- And not much of an appetite, especially first thing in the morning
Low cortisol conversely can cause:
- Aches and pains
- And complete exhaustion
Insulin can be the main culprit in weight loss resistance and once an imbalance starts it can be a difficult rollercoaster to get off of. Insulin can be quick to become imbalanced due to stress and poor dietary choices, making your cells essentially numb.
Insulin resistance or even just poor glycemic control can lead to symptoms of both hypoglycemia and elevated glucose levels, both which can make you hold on to weight in spite of what you might have thought were your best efforts.
Testosterone is a key sex hormone that is required by both men and women. Testosterone is essential for fertility, muscle mass and growth, fat distribution and bone health. It can be common in women (and men) for testosterone to decline naturally with age; however, it is very important to not take the hormone testosterone without doing a hormone panel.
Taking endogenous testosterone can lead to a build-up of androgenic hormones and unpleasant side effects for women, including facial hair, muscle growth, headaches, mood swings, and weight gain.
Not having or producing enough testosterone can also make you gain weight and not be able to build any muscle.
On the topic of androgens, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) can also be an issue and influence hormone balance and weight. Typically, this includes high fasting glucose, high sex hormones and their precursors such as testosterone and DHEA.
Symptoms of PCOS include:
- Facial hair
- Elevated blood sugar
- And weight gain
With PCOS your body cannot clear hormones effectively.
Estrogen is the fifth hormone which is mainly responsible for giving women their figure. Estrogen is made in the ovaries and needs to be in balance with progesterone. There is a delicate line between having too little and too much estrogen.
High estrogen or estrogen dominance can make weight loss very challenging for both men and women.
Signs of High Estrogen:
- An increase in appetite
- Increase in water retention
- And fat storage “in weird places”
- And cellulite
If you are over 45, be sure to check out our blog about estrogen and to find out if taking bioidentical hormones is a smart choice for you. This hormone should not have been demonized as it has been, especially with regard to our menopausal years.
When I was in private practice, I saw hundreds of women who were so frustrated because they were not eating much and they were exercising but still not losing weight, or worse, steadily gaining it with no known explanation.
They felt like their body was being invaded and they were becoming someone different on the outside than they were on the inside. While this is a horrifying feeling, the good news is that it is possible to balance your hormones at any age and to reclaim your sense of self.
Steps For Achieving Hormonal Balance
When we are experiencing the above symptoms, it is all too common to add more hormones through bioidentical hormone therapy or other methods. While this can work wonders for some, if we add additional hormones into a stressed body that is already in chaos, the body will often react negatively or will not know what to do with the extra hormones. This results in hormones going through the wrong pathway or not being detoxified correctly, leading to weight gain, anxiety, skin or immune reactions, and added stress.
There are two strategies we have used with wonderful results in private practice and just recently in our Adrenal ReCode program.
These 2 pillars include:
- Converting food efficiently to fuel
- And reviewing the importance of macronutrient ratios
These two well executed, alone, take care of insulin, cortisol, and thyroid hormone by helping to regulate blood sugar, balance stress hormones, and shuttle active thyroid hormone into the cell, therefore creating balance.
From there, the liver will get healthier and be able to detoxify excess estrogen and you will be able to get the sex hormone balance your body needs because it will be able to pull from healthy stress hormone precursors to create the testosterone it needs.
Converting Food To Fuel
Over 80% of the population is not able to actually utilize the food they consume into appropriate fuel for the body, which is part and parcel of why our society is so darn tired all the time and reaching for quick fixes like coffee or processed sugar.
The foods we eat should benefit us to the fullest, revving our cellular energy centers (mitochondria) and brain, and supporting our microbiome. If we can include foods which are synergistic to our adrenals, thyroid, brain, and nervous system, we can then effectively kick-start the healing process.
Nutrients Necessary For The Adrenals:
- And sodium
Food sources include:
- Broccoli Sprouts
- Bone Broth
- Celtic Sea Salt
- Camu Camu
- Cottage Cheese (organic)
- High-quality milk
- Orange Juice
- Pink Salt
- Red Bell Peppers
Nutrients For The Thyroid:
- Small amounts of copper
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- B vitamins, such as B1, B2, and B12
- And tyrosine
Food sources include:
- Bone Broth
- Egg Yolks
- High-Quality Milk
- Low Fat White Fish
- Organ Meat
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Raw Cacao
- Ricotta Cheese
- Sea Vegetables
- Shiitake Mushrooms
- Sunflower Seeds
Nutrients For The Brain:
Amino acids are essential to balance neurotransmitters and play a great role in maintaining a balanced, healthy weight, such as:
Foods and herbs which are great for neurotransmitters include:
- Green Tea
- Red cabbage
Nervous System Support:
All the following are all necessary for nervous system function and development:
- Fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K)
- And iron
Food sources include:
The Importance Of Macronutrient Ratios For Hormonal Health
- And proteins
The issue with diets today: they often cut out one group, such as low-fat, low-carb, high-fat.
When we do that, we cannot expect our body to succeed long term.
There is a reason we have three types of macronutrients; they all have important benefits for our health.
The number one question we get when speaking about macronutrient ratios is, “what percentage do you recommend?”
The answer to this is so unique and is dependent on your own body's feedback
If you are coming from a low or no carbohydrate diet, start slow with adding carbohydrates back in, like ⅛ cup twice a day. You will need to train your body to metabolize carbs once again, versus storing them as fat.
Alternatively, if you have been consuming a low-fat diet for a long period of time, see how you feel adding a ½ teaspoon of fat into your meals and gradually work up from there.
To go into more depth on what to eat and do in order to achieve hormone balance take our free mini-course, where sample meal ideas and recommendations are provided along with downloadable recipes.