3 Ways Your Hormones Are Sabotaging Your Weight Loss Goals
Anyone who has struggled with weight loss knows that there’s more to losing weight than counting calories. There are a number of factors that can easily put a damper on your weight loss goals, including the amount and type of exercise you’re getting, the quality and length of sleep you receive, and your overall stress levels. But one huge factor most people never think about is how your hormones could be working against even your best weight loss efforts if they’re out of balance. Here are 3 common imbalances to think about next time you’re feeling frustrated at the scale.
For women especially, estrogen dominance problems are common. This occurs when estrogen levels are too high relative to their progesterone levels. This imbalance is known to cause weight gain (especially in the hips and thighs region), water retention, and slow metabolism. You can see why these side effects are not so great for weight loss. Even worse, as the body puts on weight, fat cells actually produce more estrogen. So how do you break the cycle?
Measure your fiber intake. Are you getting 30-45 grams/day? One of the ways your body is best able to eliminate excess estrogen is through your excriment. If you’re not getting enough fiber, chances are you’re also experiencing symptoms of constipation, gas, and bloating to go along with it. If you’re not used to having so much fiber in your diet, increase the amount you’re taking gradually, or you could shock your GI tract a bit and end up with some overactive bowel movements.
Too much cortisol, not enough DHEA and testosterone
Cortisol is that pesky stress hormone we’re always hearing about. Not only does cortisol affect your quality of sleep, immune system, mood, sex drive, and a host host of other important functions, it also makes us crave sugar and tells our bodies to store fat (particularly around the middle.) High cortisol increases our blood sugar and insulin levels while robbing the body of any available DHEA and testosterone (other important hormones for fitness!)
One of the biggest causes of elevated cortisol levels is chronic stress. While common stressors in our lives like family, children, and work can’t be eliminated (and shouldn’t! These are also great parts of our lives!), they can absolutely be improved. Small changes such as taking more breaks throughout your work day, creating a carpool with other parents, and setting healthy boundaries with family members who require a lot of time and energy are all great examples of small changes that will reduce stress. Eating healthy, getting proper sleep, and drinking less caffeine and booze will also help. Making changes in lifestyle across these different facets of your life add up in a big way. If you make lowering your stress levels a priority, it is possible to do so for anyone in any situation.
Vitamin D deficiency
For people who spend most of their time indoors, and especially for those who live in cooler climates with less sun, Vitamin D deficiency has become increasingly common. While Vitamin D isn’t a hormone, it acts like one in our bodies, and deficiency has been linked to weight gain, fatigue, depression, and even cardiovascular disease and cancer.
A doctor can run a simple blood test to determine if you’re deficient in vitamin D and recommend a daily allowance to help you raise your levels.
Weight loss, especially sustained, healthy weight loss is more complicated than picking up a salad and running on the treadmeal a few times a week. There are a lot of factors that can hold back even the most determined gym goer and fervid salad lover. It’s time to rethink how we approach weight loss in a more holistic fashion. We need to look at not only our physical activity and diet, but also our genetics, body chemistry, and hormonal levels. When we approach weight loss this way, we improve not only the number on our scales but overall happiness and health, too.
Dr. Andrew Rudin, MD is a Cardiologist in NY. To learn more about his career and experience, please visit his main website.