Diet and exercise may seem like the only ways that you can lose weight. What many people don’t realize is that 1/3 – 2/3 of the pounds people shed through diets alone will be regained within one year. It's important for everyone to understand how they can manage their weight in order to avoid long-term health issues.
The first step in weight management is to understand how your body functions. This goes deeper than understanding that X amount of calories may result in weight loss, or that eating a clean diet will help get rid of unwanted weight – instead it’s about understanding your body on a deeper level, a hormonal level. Hormones and weight loss have a direct correlation, just like hormones do with other bodily functions. There are four hormones in particular that affect weight loss: insulin, cortisol, serotonin, and estrogen. Let's discover more.
Insulin is a hormone that is released from the pancreas when you consume sugar. It regulates the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream and, accordingly, is responsible for sugar entering the body’s cells to provide energy. When there is an excess amount of sugar in your body, more than your cells can use as fuel for energy, insulin cannot help process the sugar. This excess sugar turns into fat. If your diet is high carbohydrates and low in protein, you hinder your body’s capability of managing weight. To manage insulin, you should eat small meals that are rich in protein and a lot of green vegetables.
Cortisol, a hormone that is released by the adrenal glands, is typically related to stress. But this connection to stress also has a connection to weight gain. Cortisol’s two main functions are that it:
- Metabolizes fats and carbohydrates
- Triggers the pancreas to release insulin
When you are stressed out, more cortisol is released into the body. As a result, the body will experience an increased appetite level, which could lead to weight gain if you are not active enough to burn off excess calorie intake. Moreover, increased cortisol will also trigger insulin production, which was discussed above. High levels of cortisol will also result in a drop in the level of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) – which helps increase muscle mass. The more muscle mass you have, the more fat your body will burn. If DHEA decreases, the fat burning process slows down and the result is weight gain.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that produces chemicals in the brain. It works exactly the opposite of cortisol, and calms your body down and acts as a natural appetite suppressant. Serotonin is naturally made by the brain through consuming carbohydrates and Vitamin B. Of course, to manage weight, you should not indulge in eating too many carbohydrates – but eating the right kind of carbs in the correct amounts will help you manage your weight. Vitamin B can naturally be consumed through eating dark leafy green vegetables and lentils.
Estrogen is naturally found in our bodies, but it is possible to have too much estrogen. Too much estrogen, or estrogen dominance, is a result of ingesting toxins and chemicals that contain estrogen mimickers. A consequence of estrogen dominance is the accumulation of fat in the abdominal and hip areas. In order to combat estrogen dominance in your body, consider including turmeric, green tea, or indole-3-carbinol (I3C) in your diet. All three of these ingredients help to fight against estrogen mimickers in the body, while also creating a balance between estrogen and testosterone. There are also dietary supplements that exist to help fight estrogen mimickers.
In order to manage hormones and the effect they have on your weight, try to do the following:
- Decrease the exposure of estrogen in the environment and diet. Avoid things such as sodas, non-organic meant, pesticides, soy, coffee, plastic bottles etc.
- Increase the amount of cruciferous veggies, green team fiber, and tailored supplementation in your diet as it facilitates the natural process of detoxification.
- Decrease the intake of grains and starches and replace them with vegetables and fruits. Drink water and green tea while avoiding other beverages and coffee.
- Take supplements with calcium, vitamin D, and fish oil to protect against heart diseases, decrease inflammation and to strike a balance between hormones.
- Weight-train for three to five times in a week.
There is a direct relation between hormones and weight loss. Understanding the way that your body functions internally, is what will help you acheive how you want to look externally.