Your Hormones and Weight Loss

by Alexander Mostovoy, HD & Alvin Pettle, MD

If calorie counting and regular workout sessions get you nowhere, consider another important variable — your hormones.
There are many different hormones that control your appetite, your feeling of fullness, your cravings, and even your metabolic rate. Certain hunger hormones and peptides can even stimulate growth and multiplication of the body’s fat cells.
While hormonal disorders need to be addressed, the good news is that they usually don’t require extensive medical intervention. For the vast majority of women, Bio-Identical Hormones is the fast and least invasive way to address their hormonal imbalance. However, long term maintenance and weight management will involve positive lifestyle changes, including appropriate diet and nutritional adjustments, improved fitness levels, stress management, and when required even emotional healing. At 12weeks.ca we take a comprehensive approach to wellness and weight loss and weight management.
The following will briefly explain our approach and how hormones can be stalling your weight loss strategy. Along the way, we will provide you with tips and information on how to get your body back in balance in the most natural way.

Excess Estrogen

When the amount of estrogen in your body outweighs levels of its hormonal counterpart, progesterone, you become at greater risk for obesity. An overabundance of the female sex hormone in both sexes can result from exposure to xeno-estrogens, compounds that dress themselves up like estrogen once they enter the body. These estrogen imposters are found in foods grown with pesticides or herbicides, animal products produced using growth hormones, plastics that contain phalates, and skincare products containing parabens. Excessive alcohol consumption, sluggish liver function, a high-fat diet, and poor digestive function can also cause estrogen to stockpile in the body. Today, Estrogen Dominance, as it is known, is one of the major causes of obesity and weight gain.
The heavier you are, the more estrogen your fat cells produce! The more fat in your body, specifically in the abdominal region, the more your body continues to produce estrogen. Excess estrogen suppresses your thyroid function and as your thyroid slows down you gain more weight. It is a vicious cycle and the only way to break it, is to lower your estrogen levels. Further and to add injury to insult, estrogen imbalance can put you at risk of hormone-dependent cancers, like breast and uterine cancer.
Your body fat positioning is a sign of estrogen and progesterone levels that are off balance. Premenopausal women will carry more weight around their hips and thighs, experience PMS, and have difficulty losing weight, while postmenopausal women will notice an increase in belly fat.
Our 12weeks nutritional approach is designed to bring your hormone levels into balance. You will accomplish that by reducing intake of estrogen in your diet by cutting back on estrogen promoting foods and opting for organic meat, dairy, and produce to reduce your consumption of pesticides, herbicides, and hormone by-products. You will also increase significantly your daily fiber intake, since fiber binds to estrogen and helps carry it out of the body. By adding ground flaxseed or chia seeds to salads or meals, or mixing in a high-fiber supplement into a protein shake you will attain a well functioning digestion and elimination.

Chronically High Cortisol Levels

Most of us need a boost in adrenaline and cortisol in short-term, high-stress situations, however chronically elevated cortisol levels as a result of long-term stress can put a damper on your weight loss goal.
Cortisol – a hormone of stress, is really a menace hormone. It suppresses almost all hormones that help you burn fat. It lowers levels of metabolism-boosting thyroid hormones, promotes the loss of muscle tissue, increases appetite-stimulating hormones, and makes you crave comfort food. This is why chronic high stress usually leads to belly fat and weight gain.
Signs of cortisol imbalance may also include difficulty falling asleep, waking between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m., digestive problems, sugar or salt cravings, muscle tension, headaches, anxiety, and depression.
Our 12weeks approach to managing stress takes into consideration the basics of stress management starting with sound sleep to optimize your melatonin levels. Sleep also increases growth hormone, which burns fat while it rebuilds bone, muscle, and skin cells during rest and keeps the hunger and satiety hormones, ghrelin and leptin, in balance.
We will also teach and empower you to incorporate your fitness routine into your regular daily activity. It will help in relieving stress and lower your cortisol levels.

 Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance alone doesn’t mean you have diabetes, but it does mean that your body just has a lot more insulin than it needs. High blood sugar isn’t just a problem for diabetics; it could also explain why your body’s clinging to stubborn fat.
Under ideal working conditions, the body releases insulin in proportion to the amount of carbohydrates you consume. Insulin processes the sugars from carbs and carries them to your cells, which use the carbs for energy or stores them for later. When insulin accumulates, largely due to a diet that includes too many processed carbohydrates, high-sugar foods, high fructose corn syrup, or artificial sweeteners, the body stores unused sugars as fat (especially in the abdominal area) instead of glycogen, the energy source used during exercise. Excess insulin can also block the use of stored fat as energy.
Excess insulin revs up appetite by interfering with leptin, the hormone that signals satiety, and raising levels of dopamine, a hormone that tells the brain to seek rewards. Unfortunately the most easily accessible ‘rewards’ happen to be edible. Signs that your pancreas is in insulin-production overdrive include excess belly fat, constant hunger and cravings, water retention, high cholesterol, and even high blood pressure.
To keep your insulin levels in check we will teach you how to eliminate processed carbohydrates, added sugars, and artificial sweeteners, such as high fructose corn syrup, from your diet. This will help with controlling your appetite and keep insulin levels low throughout the day.

Low Thyroid Hormones

With symptoms like unexplained weight gain, fatigue and depression, many are quick to blame their weight loss struggles on a lazy thyroid, the gland that releases the hormones that speed up or slow down your metabolism. Sub-Clinical hypothyroidism is fairly common, with 30 to 40% of peri or menopausal women affected in North America. Your blood test results may show ‘normal’ range however if your symptoms persist you may be suffering from a sluggish thyroid function yet not a complete dysfunctional medical condition. If there is not enough thyroid hormone in the body everything will slow down such as brain function, digestion, and of course metabolism. A slow thyroid means a difficult journey to your optimal weight.
While medication is necessary to treat active hypothyroidism, borderline conditions and sluggish thyroid can get a boost from an iodine or l-tyrosine supplement. We will teach you how to use selenium and iodine rich foods to naturally support your thyroid function.

Low Brain Hormones

Serotonin and dopamine are brain chemicals, however the release of these hormones is frequently associated with the foods you eat. When the body is low on the “happy hormone” serotonin, a compound associated with mood and feelings of depression and anxiety, you’re likely to experience cravings for carbs. Once you get your carb fix you will experience a feeling of calmness for a while as a result of serotonin release in the brain.
Dopamine, which affects the brain’s pleasure and reward pathways, is also linked to food. If you’re addicted to something, whether it’s sugar or alcohol you probably have low dopamine levels. Depression, anxiety, worry, and low self-esteem are also signs that you’re low on these brain chemicals.
Chronic stress and busy lifestyle are two of the biggest contributors to low serotonin levels. Chronic stress raises levels of cortisol that in turn robs you of serotonin. The demands of our busy lifestyle deplete our serotonin levels. Our program is set up to teach you how to keep your serotonin levels high with minimal to no supplementation and which foods to avoid that interfere with serotonin reserves. Naturally enjoyable and rewarding activities will boost your dopamine levels. You will be encouraged to have fun all the way and if you persist in fitness activity that is rewarding, your dopamine levels will be naturally replenished.

Menopause

Just like excess estrogen can pack on belly fat, too little of the hormone can also cause a flab. As estrogen levels drop off during the unavoidable biological process of menopause, many women experience a shift in fat from their hips to their waists. Menopause also tends to trigger an increase in insulin and dips in levels of serotonin, further contributing to carb cravings and weight gain. But it’s not just estrogen that takes a nosedive once you hit your 40s and 50s. Menopause lowers levels of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), a hormone that, among its many anti-aging benefits, improves sleep quality and counteracts the negative effects of cortisol. A low testosterone level that comes with menopause causes a decline in muscle mass and the body’s fat-burning ability. Finally, when your level of progesterone, a hormone that aids sleep, relaxation and stimulates your metabolism, drops off, estrogen dominance sets in.
While menopause is a natural process it may be accompanied with common symptoms like hot flashes, mood swings, and fatigue. These symptoms can be generally addressed with Natural (Bio-Identical) Hormone Therapy as a short term solution to menopause symptoms. However, as a long term solution it is always advisable to support your therapy and wellbeing with optimal nutrition, healthy lifestyle, fitness, reduction of stress levels and emotional balance all of which will lead to optimal weight management.

Low Testosterone

Although testosterone is known as a hormone of ambition and drive, it is essential in keeping your body lean and trim. Low testosterone levels can cause bones to weaken and muscles to lose their mass along with decreased metabolic activity. Declining testosterone levels can also lead to more belly fat and weight gain in the breast area in both men and women.
The 12week program is designed to naturally enhance testosterone production and get rid of excess estrogen. The right protein for your metabolic type in your diet along with individually selected fitness program for your body type will build and preserve muscle and keep your testosterone levels at optimum.

What to do?

Hormonal imbalance leading to weight gain is a very common problem. We welcome you to discover your 12weeks journey. Together we make it simple for you to get started as we guide you step by step. We will empower you with the information and support you need to accomplish your transformation to wellness in 12 weeks.
We invite you to make a commitment to your health and attain the weight and fitness level that you desire. We will reciprocate and make a commitment to you to support you all the way with our knowledge, experience and integrity.
Please call us for your free assessment at 416.638.7555