Could your hormones be contributing to weight gain?
Life is all about balance. This is a common philosophy that has been adopted more and more in today’s society. Balance comes in many different forms. Many of us strive to achieve balance in our personal lives and work lives. But what about our health? Abiding by the philosophy that moderation is key may not be enough to achieve a holistic balance for your body. We may need to dive deeper. Underneath the surface of our diets lie their impacts of our hormone levels. An imbalance in our hormone levels can actually serve as the greatest sabotage to our diets. Hormone imbalances can be causing excess belly fat for many of us. This is often the most stubborn fat to lose and is highly dependent on nutrition and keeping our hormones in line.
Both men and women experience hormone imbalances throughout their life due to changing levels of testosterone, estrogen, insulin and growth hormones. High testosterone levels can result in unstable metabolism rates, causing people to have trouble gaining or losing weight. One of the reasons some people deal with high testosterone levels is because they lack an enzyme needed for their adrenal glands to produce cortisol or aldosterone. When we lack the enzyme to produce these hormones, our bodies run the risk of producing too little cortisol and too much testosterone. Too much testosterone ultimately leads to weight gain in both men and women.
Too little testosterone in women most commonly occurs during menopause when our ovaries are simply producing less hormones. For men, too little testosterone can actually occur during puberty and is just the result of their glands not producing enough of the hormone. But have no fear, every problem has a solution and balancing your testosterone levels can be solved by simply focusing on your nutrition.
Here are some tips to help you balance your testosterone levels:
- Increase protein – An increase of protein can stabilize testosterone levels in both men and women, bringing them to a normal production rate
- Reduce sugar intake – Testosterone actually decreases after sugar is ingested. Reducing the amount of sugar in our bodies ultimately brings testosterone levels back to normal
- Eating whole foods (eliminated the processed stuff!) – A good deal of the processed food we eat contains high levels of trans fat which actually lowers testosterone production
- Cardio activity with a mix of weights – Exercise in general increases testosterone levels because it creates muscle gain. The more muscles you have, the more testosterone your body will produce.
In terms of estrogen levels, recent studies indicate that women are experiencing lower estrogen levels much earlier in life than what was once the norm. This is largely due to the fact that women are experiencing menopause earlier than what was once common. Menopause is the result of a massive decrease of estrogen in a women’s body. This can lead to hot flashes, night sweats, mood changes and irregular periods. This is only nature running it’s course to an extent. The other half of the story relates to our diet. What many people don’t know is that we can actually boost the estrogen in our bodies through nutrition. Certain foods we consume carry natural chemicals called phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are a group of chemicals found in certain food groups which contain high levels of estrogen. Examples of foods that contain high levels of phytoestrogens include:
- Sesame seeds
- Wheat berries
Tip: Examples of great meals which incorporate these ingredients into your daily life include oat and wheat berry porridge, flaxseeds, sesame seed and barley soup or simply adding flaxseeds to your salads.
Try following the above tips for the next 21 days and see if you can witness a difference in your general mood or the on and off bloating that often occurs through hormonal imbalances. To make it even easier, Athlete’s Kitchen’s Shredding or Nu-Paleo meal plans already incorporate many of these ingredients. Give them a try now!
Wishing you a healthy, happy and hormonally balanced day!