Hormones that are out of whack can defeat your best efforts to lose weight even though you’ve banished carbs from your diet and you live at the gym. Hormonal imbalances are often overlooked, but they can be a huge contributor to weight-loss resistance. Resetting hormone balance can help you break through and finally get your weight under control. Check with your doctor if you suspect you suffer from hormone imbalance. The three hormones that are most likely to make losing weight very challenging if not impossible when they are out of balance are estrogen, insulin and cortisol. Here’s how you can begin to reset them.
Estrogen is the female hormone that gives women breasts and hips and lubricates joints. Women are at risk of estrogen overload, even in menopause. Women with high estrogen tend to hold their weight in their hips and around their middle sections.
Eating vegetable can lower your estrogen levels and help you lose weight. Include cruciferous vegetables such cauliflower and broccoli and add mustard greens and kale. Choose organic fruits and vegetables to avoid chemicals that appear to raise estrogen.
Some nutritionists recommend a pound of vegetables each day for enough fiber to help rid your body of estrogen. Start with 35 to 45 grams of fiber per day and slowly increase in 5-gram increments to prevent getting gas or bloating.
Giving up alcohol is key to lowering estrogen. Alcohol can affect how the liver metabolizes the hormone and spike estrogen levels. Too much sugar and too many refined carbs also raise estrogen levels. Soy milk has been linked to increased estrogen levels. Try switching to almond and coconut milk.
If your metabolism is broken, insulin is a likely problem. When you’re overweight or have too much fat mass, your body becomes resistant to the effects of insulin. Because your insulin isn’t working as a glucose regulator, your body stores fat. Many people with thyroid and autoimmune thyroid conditions have insulin resistance, and low thyroid function is a major player in weight-loss resistance.
There are many ways to reset insulin. Many people start by giving up sugar and artificial sweeteners. Another strategy is to drink filtered water with apple cider vinegar. A recent study found that drinking two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before a high carb meal significantly reduces blood glucose levels for people who have insulin resistance.
Ask your doctor for the right tests for thyroid function and eat right for your thyroid. Limit soybeans, raw kale and other raw cruciferous veggies, which might contain thyroid-blocking compounds called goitrogens. Eating them is okay, but make sure you cook them. Eat wild-caught, low-mercury fish and seaweed for additional iodine, pumpkin seeds and oysters for zinc and Brazil nuts for selenium and iodine.
If you have low thyroid function, use a good multivitamin supplement that contains these nutrients as well as fish oil and vitamin D. You may benefit from iodine supplements but take care to avoid overdosing and be sure to get your iodine levels measured regularly.
Most of us run around stressed all the time and the body responds by making cortisol. Cortisol is an adrenal hormone that shuts down digestion and slows your metabolism. Prolonged stress and high levels of cortisol make you store fat—especially in your belly. High cortisol is also linked to the depression, food addiction, and sugar cravings that set you up to overeat foods like cookies and processed foods. You wind up getting fatter.
Start to control cortisol by kicking your caffeine habit. Slowly wean off caffeine over three days, and you’ll see how your sleep and stress levels improve! You can’t eliminate stress completely, but you can reduce it with meditation, yoga or deep relaxation to promote weight loss and health. Practice active relaxation such as learning deep breathing or try a sauna or steam bath.