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What Balanced Hormones Mean for Weight Loss?

What Balanced Hormones Mean for Weight Loss?

Everything you need to know about hormone imbalance- what they are, how they affect your weight and fat burning, and simple action you can take to bring each hormone back into balance.

balanced hormones weight loss

Hormone balance and weight loss. Image By Albina Glisic (Shutterstock)

Hormones’ notoriety is likely due to the many books and programs that mention how they affect weight, yet hormones affect us as early as being in utero and help shape (no pun intended) our physical and emotional development throughout our lives.

Weight gain is a non-specific expression that something is not quite right in our body, and regardless of the cause, it can throw off the many pathways of hormone balance as fat cells are also considered an organ.

Fortunately, the risk factors for hormone imbalance and weight gain tend to be very similar, yet the absence of a single formula for everyone stems from how we are all unique in our genetics and lifestyle.

Why Hormones Act Like They Do!

Hormones, in general, are flighty and volatile, and like anything, work well when in balance. The main players include sex hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, those that regulate appetite like insulin, glucagon, ghrelin, and leptin, and stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline.

Thyroid hormone and aldosterone (the hormone that regulates salt balance) helps manage weight due to metabolism and water retention, respectively. The issue becomes when one hormone gets affected, a downstream effect occurs in worsening not only the originator but also ones that share interactions- which are many.

This is why losing weight and balancing hormones can feel like an uphill battle and additional effort, because little by little over time, our body has adapted to a new normal (physically and mentally)- even if we don’t like that ‘normal’.

How Genetics & Lifestyle Affect Hormones?

Genetics usually count for about 10% of our health destiny, especially in this case, while lifestyle factors such as sleep, stress levels, nutrition choices, exercise, emotional health, and our sense of self-worth all factor into the balance of life, metaphorically too for what we need for balanced hormones.

For example, cortisol wakes us up in the morning, declines throughout the day to when we eventually go to sleep. Anything that affects this curve can lead to a rise in cortisol over time that can alter hormone balance, slow down thyroid, and actually increase a hormone that can make us eat more (usually not the healthiest foods) wherein any other circumstance we may not have any desire. Additional stress and food generally appear around the midsection.

Estrogen Dominance – A Very Common Culprit

Estrogen dominance (elevated estrogen) is a very common hormone imbalance in men and women, which can lead to weight gain, as well as poor sleep, anxiety, depression, sugar cravings, and fatigue, to name a few.

It can also slow down thyroid function (our metabolism), and contribute to blood sugar issues as it’s the balance of testosterone and progesterone that help insulin effectively bring energy into cells.

This time, our reason for additional sugar and caffeine-related foods is for that quick burst in energy, which in turn can affect sleep and of course the overall stress on our body.

How Emotions Affect Hormones- And They Do

Psychologically, emotions are stored in our cells[1] as evidenced such as during a massage we burst out crying once a knot gets loose. This is completely normal. In fact, crying is a way of release, just like sweating or going to the bathroom, and another way for our body to ‘let go’.

However, we tend to be more conditioned to hold in our emotions, self-expression, live by the phrase ‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead’, as we’ve turned more into human ‘doings’ than ‘beings’.

We can certainly still ‘do’, but consider if you’re also taking time to truly have balance in your life such as choosing your battles and knowing when to ‘let go’ without feeling like you compromised your sense of self (that’s the ego talking).

Why Your Labs Look Normal And You Don’t Feel That Way

In addition to all of this, labs may look normal or perhaps some slightly off, and you’re being told you’re fine. In fact, bloodwork is based on an average, and sometimes not even pertaining to you as certain labs can actually be gender-specific.

Narrowing the ranges too for a variety of values, and an in-depth understanding of physiology can help your wellness professional glean a more detailed picture of what takes priority in being addressed.

If there is a need for further investigation, urine and saliva tests can help show sex hormone metabolites (e.g. estrogen, progesterone, testosterone) and map out our cortisol curve.

Where To Begin Nutritionally & Through Supplements

Nutritionally, to help with that uphill battle, protein (vegetable or animal) is a great macronutrient to help stabilize blood sugar spikes and create a sense of satiety.

Drinking at least half your body weight in ounces of water helps decrease bloating and lets our body know we’re well-hydrated, as we tend to hold water for a little bit after losing fat.

Supplements like magnesium, otherwise known as nature’s relaxer, involved in over 500 reactions in the human body, found in foods like avocado and dark leafy greens, are imperative for our stress response and hormone production, as well as help the cells better receive insulin.

Optimized vitamin D levels (clinically recommended between 40-50) can help improve weight loss efforts and overall health.[2]

Questions To Discover Your Perfect Hormone Balance

Spiritually, it’s not just about changing habits about what you eat, what you take, and exercise routine, for example, but also both your view on life and people in your life.

Do you feel like you’re around people where you just can’t be yourself?

Whether at a job or relationship (i.e. social, romantic)?

The thyroid is also part of the throat chakra, which stands for authenticity and being able to speak our truth. And if we are at a place where we’re not able to yet, can we practice forgiveness and understand that we hold value?

In this place, after some deep breaths, you may find a sense of calmness and even balance, that will then manifest itself when noticed and addressed consistently over time beyond balanced hormones, to eventually sustainable weight loss in the sense now you know exactly what your body needs.

How To Literally Balance It All, At Any Time & Place

Achieving balance means changing our patterns, stepping out of our safety zone (which our brain does not like), and deep down knowing if we want different results we need to do be doing something different.

Instead of thinking of it as ‘forever’, consider all those times you changed in your life, even throughout grade school, or different decades, and approach this as no different.

Give yourself credit too as you are also breaking down many signals that really want to you go back to what was- a place for forgiveness of where we were, and gratitude for where we are right now.

This also comes in handy when we find long-term balance is not always a linear process, but it’s in understanding and trusting our body do we truly achieve balance across all risk factors.

Feedback:

Bibliography

1) ETH Zurich. "Why Emotional Memories Of Traumatic Life Events Are So Persistent." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 May 2008.  https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/05/080509152307.htm
2) Khosravi, ZS, et al. Effect of vitamin D supplementation on weight loss, glycemic indices, and lipid profile in obese and overweight women: A clinical trial study. International Journal of Preventative Medicine. 2019. 9:63. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30123437
J Nutr Metab. 2011; 2011: 237932. Published online 2011 Jul 28. doi: 10.1155/2011/237932 PMCID: PMC3147122 PMID: 21822485 A Review of Weight Control Strategies and Their Effects on the Regulation of Hormonal Balance
Hu F. Genetic predictors of obesity. In: Hu F, ed. Obesity Epidemiology. New York City: Oxford University Press, 2008; 437-460
Biomed Pharmacother. 2018 Jun;102:403-411. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2018.03.078. Epub 2018 Mar 22. Estrogen: The necessary evil for human health, and ways to tame it.
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Dr. Serena Goldstein, ND

Dr. Serena Goldstein is a Naturopathic Doctor in NYC who helps people lose weight and keep it off when diets, cleanses, and supplements...

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