Are you careful about what you eat but still can’t seem to lose the extra weight? Is your battle with the bulge a never-ending story? If you’re like so many others who seem to be reasonably active and not especially bad about what they eat, a hormonal imbalance may be to blame. Thankfully, the fixes, while requiring expertise and proper diagnosis, are not as hard to implement as you might imagine. Here are the 6 hormones you need to reset to lose fat faster.
1. Lower Insulin Resistance To Use Up Glucose
Insulin is a hormone you’ve probably heard about a lot in the news, thanks to its central role in new-age problems like metabolic syndrome. Insulin regulates how your body uses glucose from food for energy or fat storage.
When you are insulin-resistant, your body doesn’t respond to insulin normally. So glucose stars collecting in your blood. To compensate for this, your body produces more and more insulin. This eventually results in diabetes or prediabetes. The body is then unable to process glucose properly. Weight gain is a common fallout. Other problems like polycystic ovarian syndrome are also linked to insulin resistance.1
How To Lower Insulin Resistance
- Get on a strict low-carb diet to keep the blood glucose levels from rising.
- Include avocados, pomegranates, berries, lean proteins, peppers, and high-fiber grains to make your body more sensitive to insulin.
- Build some regular exercise into your routine to help correct the underlying hormonal issues that are worsening the weight gain. Walking for just 30 mins daily can cut diabetes risk by 30%.2
2. Lower Cortisol Levels To Stop Stress Eating
Cortisol is a stress hormone that’s meant to regulate your reaction to stressful situations. Unfortunately, if you expose yourself to too much stress because you’re not getting enough sleep3, have a stressful work or personal life, or are simply not eating right (too much caffeine, perhaps?), you could end up with a surge of cortisol in your body that then lingers constantly.
When you’re stressed, you’re likely to crave fatty sugary foods to ease that stress – and that’s a recipe for weight-gain disaster. In addition, if you’re sleep deprived, higher cortisol levels can link to insulin resistance, which puts you at further risk of obesity.
How To Lower Cortisol Levels
- Sleep for at least 7 hours at a stretch every night. Eat foods with tryptophan and melatonin – cottage cheese, turkey, kiwifruit, and cherries – for better sleep. Stay away from caffeine and electronic devices for at least 2 hours before sleep.
- Exercise every day to make your body adjust to higher levels of cortisol and release endorphins, the mood-lifting hormones, to counter the cortisol.
- Take up some stress-relieving activities like yoga or meditation.4
3. Balance Estrogen Levels To Not Store Fat
Estrogen, while more well-known as a female sex hormone, has an important role to play in regulating your body weight too. In the right amounts, it regulates insulin levels in your body. This ensures your body keeps its blood glucose levels steady, supplying it as energy to muscles to be burned as a fuel. However, an imbalance of estrogen is risky.
You can have too much estrogen due to a high intake from dietary sources like meats. Or you can have too little estrogen due to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or obesity. This in turn could put you at risk of insulin resistance, with less glucose going to your muscles and more remaining in the bloodstream. Your body then starts storing the excess glucose as fat.5
How To Balance Your Estrogen Levels
- If you have too little estrogen, eat more fruits, fresh vegetables (except cruciferous ones), whole grains, and fish. Cut down on caffeine.
- If you have too much estrogen, eat cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cabbage. Steam or saute them lightly.
4. Control Leptin To Stop Overeating
The body’s appetite is regulated by a couple of hormones, one of which is leptin. It regulates the energy balance in your body and, by extension, your appetite over the long term.6 Sometimes, your body may develop resistance to leptin, ignoring the signals this hormone is sending out. The result? You won’t be able to tell when you’re actually full and should stop eating. Left unchecked, you’ll see the weight pile on as you eat more than you need to. If you have a diet that’s high in sugar and processed food, or if you drink too much alcohol, or sleep too little, it can cause leptin levels to spike. For faster weight loss, it’s essential to manage your leptin levels.
How To Control Your Leptin Levels
- Avoid processed foods and sugary snacks.
- Quit alcohol.
- Get more of your “daily five” from vegetables rather than overloading on fruit, especially fructose-rich fruit like pineapple or melons.7
5. Get Enough Testosterone To Burn Fats Better
The male sex hormone is an important piece of the metabolism puzzle in both men and women. Not having enough of it in your body could cause you to have higher fat mass and lower muscle mass, which in turn dampens your metabolic rate or ability to burn fat and carbs. In addition, a testosterone deficiency is also linked to higher cholesterol levels, increased triglycerides, and even reduced insulin sensitivity. All of these are implicated in weight gain and fat buildup.8
How To Increase Testosterone Levels
- Cut down on foods with phytoestrogens (plant estrogens) like soy that lower testosterone.
- Cut down on bread, alcohol, and sugary drinks which lower testosterone.9
- Avoid drinking water from bisphenol A (BPA)-laden plastic bottles.10
6. Make The Thyroid Active To Improve Metabolism
Thyroid hormones T3 and T4 also have a part to play in body weight regulation. These hormones determine the rate of metabolism for all the cells in your body. Hypothyroidism or an underactive thyroid can cause your metabolism to become sluggish and bring on weight gain. You may also experience tiredness and constant fatigue that make exercise and activity a challenge. Digestion too can take a hit, making the balance of thyroid hormones vital to weight loss.11 While it cannot be cured fully, hypothyroidism can be managed with these steps.
How To Treat Hypothyroidism
- Cut down on soy, iodine, caffeine, and refined carbohydrates. Eat more proteins but not gluten. Cook goitrogenic vegetables like broccoli, spinach, kale, or cauliflower.
- Get enough sunlight.
- Practice stress alleviating techniques since thyroid problems have a close association with stress.12
|↑1||Insulin Resistance. PCOS Foundation.|
|↑2||Prediabetes and Insulin Resistance. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.|
|↑3||Loss, Sleep. “Sleep loss results in an elevation of cortisol levels the next evening.” Sleep 20, no. 10 (1997): 865-870.|
|↑4||Gibson, Edward Leigh. “Emotional influences on food choice: sensory, physiological and psychological pathways.” Physiology & behavior 89, no. 1 (2006): 53-61.|
|↑5||Gupte, Anisha A., Henry J. Pownall, and Dale J. Hamilton. “Estrogen: an emerging regulator of insulin action and mitochondrial function.” Journal of diabetes research 2015 (2015).|
|↑6||Klok, M. D., S. Jakobsdottir, and M. L. Drent. “The role of leptin and ghrelin in the regulation of food intake and body weight in humans: a review.” Obesity reviews 8, no. 1 (2007): 21-34.|
|↑7||Vasselli, Joseph R. “The role of dietary components in leptin resistance.” Advances in Nutrition: An International Review Journal 3, no. 5 (2012): 736-738.|
|↑8||Kelly, Daniel M., and T. Hugh Jones. “Testosterone: a metabolic hormone in health and disease.” Journal of Endocrinology 217, no. 3 (2013): R25-R45.|
|↑9||Weber, K. S., K. D. Setchell, D. M. Stocco, and E. D. Lephart. “Dietary soy-phytoestrogens decrease testosterone levels and prostate weight without altering LH, prostate 5alpha-reductase or testicular steroidogenic acute regulatory peptide levels in adult male Sprague-Dawley rats.” Journal of Endocrinology 170, no. 3 (2001): 591-599.|
|↑10||Li, De‐Kun, Zhijun Zhou, Maohua Miao, Yonghua He, Dandan Qing, Tongjun Wu, Jintao Wang et al. “Relationship Between Urine Bisphenol‐A Level and Declining Male Sexual Function.” Journal of andrology 31, no. 5 (2010): 500-506.|
|↑11||Hypothyroidism. U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑12||Thyroid and Diet Factsheet. British Thyroid Foundation.|