Weight Loss Resistance are these Hormones to Blame?
When you hear the word “hormones”… most likely PMS, puberty, and menopause come to mind. But these chemical messengers do more than guide your body through growth stages—in fact, they play a key role in fertility, metabolism, weight loss, mood, immune system function, stress, and more.
In fact, one of the most common complaints I hear from my patients is that they, “feel fat, heavy, old, and tired. Or they feel moody, unable to concentrate, and are constantly running throughout the day and needless to say, stressed”.
Hormones instruct the organs of the endocrine system – such as your thyroid, ovaries, testes and adrenal glands – to release more hormones. This is why, when one hormone goes awry, it can inhibit the whole process, and since metabolism is directly linked to your body’s ability to use food for fuel, this can send your fat-burning ability into a downward spiral.
If this sounds familiar, I recommend monitoring the following five hormones, which play a key role in regulating metabolism, weight, and mood:
Insulin: Typically associated with diabetes, insulin fluctuations can also result in weight gain, lethargy, sleeplessness, irritability, lightheadedness, and brain fog. Eating a Low Glycemic Diet can help to balance and reduce your insulin levels. You need about 200 fewer calories a day during your 50s than you did during your 30s and 40s Choose low glycemic foods, they keep your blood sugar level and from spiking.
- Cut processed carbs, these foods spikeyour blood sugar, leaving you with cravings and make you hungry
- Choose healthy fats, extra‐virgin olive oil, avocados, nuts, low‐fat dairy and foods containing omega fat oils. Great for maintaining healthy cells and immune function.
- Don’t skipmeals, which may lead you to overeat later.
- The fiber from the vegetables helps to excrete estrogen so it doesn’t keep circulating in your body.
- Aim for 35 to 45 grams of fiber per day for women (40 to 50 grams per day for men), but slowly increase in 5-gram increments each day to get to your goal without gas or bloating. The connection between meat and estrogen is profound. When you eat conventionally raised red meat, estrogen overloadis more likely.
Cortisol: When it comes to belly fat and visceral fat in particular, there is one hormone imbalance that is most often to blame: cortisol. This fight-or-flight stress hormone can lead to sleep deprivation, anxiety, hunger spikes, low libido, and weight gain if released in high amounts.
- Knowledge is power, so the first step I recommend in tackling any sort of health obstacle is to know where you are, what’s working and what isn’t. This is the best way to determine the best course of action for you. In my clinic, I run a urine test to determine the level of adrenal fatigue on my patients.
- Some of my favorite herbs for rebalancing cortisol levels are ashwaganda, schisandra, and cordyceps. Adding these to your morning routine can help to give your adrenals that much needed nutritional fuel to help set your hormones back into balance.
Ghrelin: This hunger hormone spikes when you’re sleep deprived, causing your body to store fat and crave food, even after a satisfying meal.
- Levels of ghrelin will increase if you’re consistently under-eating, which is one reason why dieting makes most people feel pretty hungry. On the other hand, overeating causes ghrelin levels to decrease.
- Eating nutrient-dense, unprocessed foods while incorporating enough fiber and protein in your diet can help to decrease ghrelin levels.
- High intensity interval training, adequate sleep, decreasing stress will decrease ghrelin.
- Avoid highly palatable foods as they increase reward centers of the brain therefore stimulating ghrelin.
Leptin:This is also called the satiety hormone which regulates your appetite and energy levels. It’s released from fat cells and when triggered decreases your appetite. Because the body produces leptin based on body fat percentage, weight gain causes your blood leptin levels to increase. The opposite is also true: weight loss will result in decreased levels of leptin (and often more hunger). Unfortunately, overweight and obese people are generally believed to be “leptin-resistant”.
- HIIT has shown to decrease leptin levels naturally.
- Sleep deprivation is one of the main reasons that can cause leptin to spiral out of control. Making sure you’re getting enough sleep will help to decrease leptin.
Adiponectin: This hormone plays a crucial role in fat burning: The more adiponectin you have, the more fat you’ll burn.
- Adiponectin is one of the key hormones that tells your body to burn fat. Encoded by the adiponecing (ADIPOQ) gene and secreted by fat cells, its role is to regulate glucose levels and fatty acid breakdown. Some people are genetically programmed to not make enough of this fat-burning hormone, and as levels decline, fat composition in the body increases.
- When it comes to weight loss resistance, the brain plays an important role, and there exists a secret conversation between fat tissue and the central nervous system. Adiponectin is one of the chemical messengers in this secret conversation, and regulates inflammation and oxidative stress, both of which contribute to weight gain.
- To reset adiponectin, I recommend eating pistachios. In a study of 60 people with metabolic syndrome, eating pistachios daily (20 percent of total energy) improved adiponectin. Plus, improvements were also seen in waist circumference, fasting blood sugar, total cholesterol, LDL (the so-called “bad cholesterol”), high sensitivity C-reactive protein, among other biomarkers.
- Magnesium, found in dark leafy greens, avocados, and fish, can raise your adiponectin levels.
- What else raises adiponectin? Intermittent fasting. The easiest way to intermittently fast, also known as a mini fast, is to extend the period of time that you don’t eat overnight. Studies have shown that IF is a powerful tool in increasing metabolism and lowering insulin resistance.
While many culprits contribute to weight-loss resistance, I find addressing the above mentioned hormonal imbalances helps many patients lose stubborn weight. If you find yourself struggling more than usual, please contact my office for further support.