Balance These 4 Hormones If You Want To Lose Weight

Healthy Living: Lifestyle

By: // May 6, 2016


A hidden culprit of weight gain can be hormonal imbalance.

One of the most common questions we receive here at Team Get Healthy U is something along the lines of: “I’m eating right and exercising, but I still can’t seem to lose this weight.” Most often, these questions are also bookended by a mention of menopause or an admission that you used to be able to keep the weight off, but now the same diet and fitness plan that had been working for years is suddenly not working now. You might not realize that fluctuating hormones could be the culprit of your weight gain—and that balancing your hormones can help you lose weight in menopause or at any age.

If this is a new idea for you, you’re not alone! Unfortunately, women’s hormones don’t get discussed much in mainstream media. (Try and see the next time you hear the word “menopause” even uttered in a commercial or on television, and you’ll be waiting for a long time.) The truth is, our hormones impact many things—our mood, our appearance, and yes, our weight—all the time. They fluctuate monthly, but also throughout the course of our lives. And the more we can understand them, the more we can work to balance them to live happier, healthier lives. So let’s learn how hormonal imbalances can hold you back from weight loss and how to balance hormones naturally to maintain a healthier weight.

I’ve gotten a lot of great information on hormonal imbalance from Dr. Sara Gottfried. She is a Harvard-trained doctor and hormone expert, and she offers up ways to bring your hormones back into balance to lose weight. She has a fantastic program called The Hormone Reset Detox and lots of great tips about how hormonal imbalance can contribute to weight gain or make losing those last few pounds extra difficult. Here are some suggestions for how to bring your hormones back into balance:

ESTROGEN

Estrogen is the female sex hormone, but both men and women technically have it. Estrogen is the hormone responsible for the development of female sexual characteristics (breasts and hips, for starters) but an estrogen imbalance (namely estrogen dominance) in your body can cause less-than-pleasant side affects—like a slower metabolism, and your body storing more fat. Because women have more estrogen than men, this is why it’s often harder for them to lose weight than their male counterparts.

For those in menopause – it may be confusing to think you have estrogen dominance when you are told your estrogen levels are plummeting. However, there are two things at play. First, while estrogen levels are lower after menopause, if your progesterone levels are super low, you can still have estrogen dominance. And second, according to the National Institute of Health Sciences, exposure to environmental estrogens (estrogen-like chemicals in our environment called xenoestrogens) can cause excess estrogen. Some of these xenoestrogens are things we ingest like pesticides, hormones in animal products, and plastics – all known as “endocrine disruptors.”

How To Naturally Balance Estrogen For Weight Loss

Help estrogen dominance with vegetables.

To lower estrogen levels naturally, Dr. Gottfried recommends eating a pound of veggies per day, as she states the fiber will help remove the estrogen from your body. Of all the out-there medical recommendations or far-fetched advice, I have to say: this one is pretty simple! Gottfried recommends that women seeking to lower their estrogen levels naturally aim for 35 to 45 gram of fiber per day, increasing their amount slowly so as not to cause stomach upset. You can also naturally balance estrogen by:

  • Reducing red meat intake
  • Cutting back on alcohol intake
  • Eliminating processed foods

INSULIN

Insulin is a hormone created by your pancreas and it helps regulate glucose (blood sugar) in your body. If you’re overweight or even “skinny fat” (storing too much visceral fat around your organs) your body’s glucose regulator (insulin!) gets thrown off balance and you have a harder time losing weight. In addition, if you tend to eat sugary foods throughout the day, you keep your insulin working overtime trying to clear the sugar from your blood. What does insulin do with the extra sugar you ask? It stores it as fat. 

How To Naturally Balance Insulin For Weight Loss

Learn how cutting down on sugar can help balance your hormones, particularly insulin.

Dr. Gottfried recommends starting the day by drinking filtered water with two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to regulate your blood sugar first thing in the morning. If the apple cider vinegar sounds too nasty to try, east into it or at least drink 16 oz of water every morning before you eat or drink anything else. This acts as a natural body flush. (I like to add lemon to my water.) Other ways to naturally balance your insulin levels include:

  • Getting enough protein with every meal
  • Eating smaller (healthy) meals more often
  • Eating low-glycemic carbs (fruits, beans, non-starchy veggies)
  • Eliminating added sugars from your diet

CORTISOL

Cortisol is your body’s stress hormone, as it regulates your body’s response to stressful situations. Unfortunately, we are so inundated with a constant stream of modern stressors and the need to be task-switching and communicating across a variety of channels that many of us have a surplus amount of cortisol in our bodies. According to lead cardiovascular researchers at the University Medical Center in the Netherlands, having excess cortisol puts you at increased risk of heart disease, and it also cause you to store visceral fat around your internal organs, which  often appears as excess belly fat.

Related: Can Stress Cause Belly Fat?

How To Naturally Balance Cortisol For Weight Loss

Bring your hormones into balance by eliminating coffee.

Simply put, you need to reset your body’s response to stress. Gottfried recommends slowly weaning yourself off excessive caffeine or switching from coffee to tea. If tea isn’t er, your cup of tea, you can also do other things to lower your cortisol levels, such as practicing mindfulness. This idea may seem vague, but it’s really straightforward: slow down, breathe, and pay attention to what you’re doing. So often, we get distracted and rush from thing to thing, and this task-switching can significantly raise stress levels. Instead, try paying attention to one task at a time, and enjoying your experience. When you eat, for example, pay attention to the pleasurable experience of eating—how it tastes, the colors of the food, how grateful you are to be eating this meal—instead of shoveling it into your mouth while trying to do three other things. Studies show that mindful eating can help with weight loss—you’re paying attention to how much you’re eating, and you’re doing so while feeling calmer, thus lowering your cortisol levels. Other ways you can naturally lower your cortisol levels include:

LEPTIN

Leptin is produced by the body’s fat cells and it’s primary function is to tell a part of our brain (the hypothalamus) that we’re satiated, or full. Our modern diet is saturated with a type of sugar called fructose, found in many processed foods (everything from pasta sauce to salad dressings). When too much fructose floods your body, your body stores it as fat. This leads to an excess of leptin; when one has too much leptin it’s possible to become leptin resistant, meaning your body no longer can tell if you’re full or not—and you keep eating and gaining weight.

How to Naturally Balance Leptin For Weight Loss

Getting enough sleep can balance your body's levels of leptin, helping you maintain a healthy weight.

A huge component to balancing your leptin levels is getting enough sleep. When you don’t get enough sleep, your leptin levels are lower and you don’t feel as satisfied after you eat. (Harvard studies show that sleep deprivation reduces leptin levels and actually increases your body’s desire for fatty or carbohydrate-rich foods.) So if you suspect a leptin imbalance is to blame for your weight gain, make sleep a priority each and every night—we should all be prioritizing sleep anyway for its myriad of health benefits, but if weight loss is the kick in the pants you need to start catching more zzz’s, then do it! Other ways to balance your leptin levels include:

  • Taking an Omega 3 supplement or eat more Omega 3 rich foods such as fish, grass-fed meats, and chia seeds
  • Decreasing your fructose intake by eating little to no added sugar
  • Exercising regularly

The bottom line is this: if you’ve been struggling to lose weight but can’t figure out what you’re doing wrong, your hormones may be to blame. You can ask your doctor to test your hormones, as well as use the above information to try different techniques to bring suspected problem hormones back into balance. It’s your body, and you should know everything you can to not only lose weight but feel happy, healthy and whole.

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Learn what hormones to balance to lose weight.

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11 Comments


tina on March 22, 2017 at 8:19 PMReply

What about progesterone? I am 25 and have recently gone on to the mini pill as my stroke risk is to high for the combined and have experienced crazy hunger, terrible skin and weight gain - combined with much bigger boobs and butt (I don't really mind that part). How can I balance out this progesterone to stop the side effects??


    Chris Freytag on March 23, 2017 at 7:41 PMReply

    Hi - Well I’m not familiar enough with the progesterone levels in the mini-pill. I have often heard that the mini pill is progesterone dominant and that would help with weight loss - it’s a natural anti-inflammatory and helps to regulate appetite. But if you are estrogen dominant - that increases your risk of cancer and stroke. So I’m assuming you are getting more progesterone in the mini-pill which should be better for you? But yes - you want to balance the 2 horomones for best results. That being said exercising regularly can help with hormone levels. And if you are looking to increase your progesterone levels for some reason - check out this article: http://youqueen.com/life/health/top-7-natural-ways-to-increase-progesterone/


Kat on February 8, 2017 at 7:48 AMReply

Hi everyone- I am really happy to find this post too. I have some of the same issues flooding my life with the up down weight gain or loss. I hate it! Just 10 years ago I could practically eat what I enjoy (healthy with few cheats) and not gain weight. I went from 131 to 150. For the last 9 years I weighed a healthy 141 and in one night gained 7 pounds that was not water weight. The weight stayed with me no matter what I tried. Protein diets, calorie diets, hormone docs, hormone pills and creams and more. I made an appointment with a endocrinologist this month. We shall see what happens because I would like to get this uncomfortable weight off. Otherwise I have healthy labs and my docs tell me to go with the flow. That is NOT my style! Talk to y'all soon!!


    Lori on February 11, 2017 at 9:26 AMReply

    Hi Kat, this sounds exactly like my me! I can't lose the weight no matter what I do. Excited to see your results.


Amy on January 20, 2017 at 12:12 PMReply

My name is Amy. I am 43 years old. My cycles stopped 2.5 years ago on their own. Since they stopped things just haven't been right with me. I exercise 1-1.5 hours each day, weigh and measure my food and eat not gluten or sugar. I have been able to maintain my weight with the routine I have. The last year has been horrible for me. Bloating, breast swelling and tenderness, depression, no libido to list a few. I have been going to see an herbalist because I didn't want to be prescribed an anti-depressant and birth control from my ob. They referred me to a doctor for testosterone pellets. The beginning of November 2016 I had 2 pellets inserted and they also put in an estrogen blocker pellet. The first 7 days after the pellets I felt like I had been cured. Then day 8 I bottomed out again and things have been horrible since The pellets are suppose to last 8-12 weeks. Right now I am at the end of the pellets as they have been totally absorbed in my body. Now things are even worse. So with the pellets my testosterone increased to a way to high 743 but my estrogen was blocked until now when my testosterone is all absorbed and the estrogen blocker is too. Now my body is making an abundance of estrogen to make up for when it was blocked This is horrible I just want to give up. I am in the process of doing urine testing to check my hormone levels and praying that this reveals what is going on and I can get relief and feel like living again. Please share if you have a similar story and have recovered or any advise/help. Thank you so much


    Tami on February 26, 2017 at 6:55 PMReply

    Hi Amy, I read your post and was in somewhat of a situation myself a while back...I am 48 and a few years back was sick of the weight I had gained, started walking went through have a breast biopsy (no cancer, Thank God) and just felt on an emotional rollercoaster. In Sept-Oct of 2015 I was always feeling bloated, not sleeping well and was just not myself. I was looking for something all natural to help me, a friend of mine introduced me to Thrive. An all natural 3 step nutritional program that has changed my life, my husbands and many of my family. I spoke with a dietician and others who have studies nutrition extensively and trust and love the product and what they have told me. This is just the short version of what I've been through but hope it helps in some way. I sleep great again, last year I found another lump, but miraculously it went away, I'm calmer, & healthier than I've ever felt! Good luck with everything! I hope you find what works for you.


Laura on September 22, 2016 at 10:03 AMReply

I also read on Wellness MGT corp. website, that it is highly important to balance testosterone level in order to lose weight, especially for men.


Sheila on September 16, 2016 at 9:24 AMReply

Great Post. I am a breast cancer survivor and I am taking tamoxifen ( estrogen blocker) for 5 years. Menopause is tough! I do not sleep through the night and I notice my metabolism has slowed down.Been exercising regularly and that does help. I am going to eat more veggies!! Thanks Chris!


Kathy on September 12, 2016 at 12:32 PMReply

Thank you for a amazing article, I'm 61 and I've had a complete hysterectomy 15 years ago and I lost my complete large colon 12 years ago. I've been getting a Estrogen shots for the last 10 years! I've tried the patch and medicine but nothing worked. My family Dr suggested the shot and once a month I get it.. I have insomnia, bad skin ( thin skin, tears easily due to no colon) many problems.. After reading your article I'm rethinking everything! Any suggestions?


    Chris Freytag on September 16, 2016 at 9:51 AMReply

    Hi Kathy - First of all, the majority of our suggestions are based on diet and rethinking what you're eating. However, the fact that you had an early hysterectomy and removal of your colon, I don't know how that affects what you are able to eat. Talk to your doctor about whether or not you still need the estrogen shot - that would be your best bet probably. Wish I could be more help! But way to be on top of your health and thinking about what's best for your body!


Carmel on May 15, 2016 at 9:55 PMReply

Thanks for this great post - this describes ME!! I have been feeling utterly confounded by the perimenipausal weight gain, feeling I eat well, exercise well (regular yoga, weights, cardio) but growing around the waist! - there's a few things I can pick up here (more veggies, more sleep!) - but thanks for holding the menopause conversation. Women need so much more information and support on this significant life bracket! Posts on for and against HRT would be great too, it's so hard to know if it's a good or a bad thing for bone health etc if you're not necessarily struggling with overt symptoms.



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