Imagine if the conductor of a world-class orchestra didn’t show up for an important concert. What’s worse, half the players stayed away, too. You wouldn’t expect too much in terms of quality music, right?
Well, that is a pretty accurate reflection of what is happening in your body when your hormones are out of whack. Hormones, after all, are like the orchestra conductors of the body, regulating the myriad functions that take place every second. When they’re out of balance or otherwise messed up, we feel out of sorts, we can’t digest our food properly – and we get, and stay, fat.
The Body Regulator
Your body contains more than 100 types of hormones, which are simply chemical messengers which tell the cells what to do. They control everything that you do, from breathing to sleeping. There are a whole host of things that affect how well our hormones are working. The amount of physical activity we engage in, our mood and stress level, and the nutrients we supply to our body are all key factors.
The Hormone Wrecker
The way we eat has played havoc with our hormones. Toxins are all around us. In fact, we take them into our system with every breath we take. Processed foods contain all manner of toxins that contaminate and clog up the cells inside our bodies. So, day after day, year after year, toxins are building up in our bodies, preventing our cells from utilizing the nutrients that we are providing them with.
When we consider that most people are hardly doing a good job of taking in the essential vitamins and nutrients that their body requires, the fact that most of that pitiful amount isn’t getting through is truly frightening. In short, the modern Western diet is an extremely hormone unfriendly diet.
You can think of a hormone like a train. It has a destination and knows where it needs to go. But it doesn’t know the best route. Think of the food you eat as signals to light the way for the hormone. The right foods will lead the hormone to its destination, where it can deliver the right signal at the right time. The wrong food, however, will lead to the hormone where it doesn’t want to go.
The bottom line here is if you’re eating well and you’re exercising but you still can’t lose weight, there’s a high likelihood that it’s because of your hormones. Hormones are the barrier that is stopping many people from making traction on their fat loss goals.
7 Key Weight-Related Hormones
The good news is that it is possible to break through the hormone barrier. Of the many hormones in your body, there are 7 that are vital to your fat loss efforts. Get them under control and you’ll be able to shed those unwanted kilos. Leave them as they are and you’ll be forever spinning your wheels.
The 7 key hormones that affect your fat loss are:
This hormone is essentially the body’s fat-burning torch. It signals the fat cells to release fat and uses it for energy. It is also a regulator of a person’s rate of metabolism. Yet many people have chronically low adiponectin levels. This can result in Type 2 Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Obesity.
Rather than taking an adiponectin supplement, the best way to increase your levels is to increase your consumption of such foods as ginger, turmeric, and chili peppers.
Insulin is produced from the pancreas when we take in sugar (glucose). It has several functions, the main one being to regulate blood sugar levels. The carbs we eat are broken down by the body to produce glucose, which is the main energy source for the cells. Insulin allows the cells in our muscles, liver, and adipose tissue to take up and make use of this glucose.
Glucose that cannot be used by the cells is converted and stored as fat. This provides energy reserves to be used when glucose levels drop too low.
To regulate insulin release, take a couple of shot glasses of apple cider vinegar before your biggest meal of the day. Also, balance your carb intake with protein at every meal. Focus on eating low glycemic index carbs such as fruits and vegetables, beans, and rolled oats.
Ghrelin is the hunger hormone. If we’ve got too much of it coursing through our veins, then we’ll always be hungry. Controlling ghrelin levels is the number one thing you can do to control your binges and hunger pangs.
Ghrelin is produced in the stomach and the hypothalamus. Its production is mainly controlled by food and sleep. Carbs and proteins restrict ghrelin production, making us feel fuller sooner.
To control ghrelin levels, get more sleep. You need 7-8 hours each night of quality sleep to keep your ghrelin levels under control. You should eat plenty of nutrient-dense high fiber foods that will fill up your stomach. Examples are Jerusalem artichokes, oats, nuts, and red apples.
Cortisol is the hormone that increases when you are stressed. If levels are high, your body goes into fat storage mode. Cortisol will also rob you of muscle tissue and it will give you cravings, just like ghrelin.
Cortisol is produced in the adrenal glands and released into the bloodstream. It has the functions of controlling blood sugar and reducing inflammation. When we are stressed, the hypothalamus in the brain triggers the release of corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), which then activates the pituitary gland to secrete adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). This, in turn, leads to the release of the 3 key stress hormones; cortisol, noradrenaline, and adrenaline.
A proven strategy to reduce stress is deep breathing. It will help to calm you down and reduce your stress level. Breathe in for a 4 count, hold for a count of 7, then breathe out for a count of eight. Other stress-lowering techniques include mindful meditation, journaling, and yoga.
Glucagon is produced in the pancreas to raise our glucose levels. It breaks down carbs to be used as energy. But too many carbs consumed will overpower glucagon, causing storage of excess glucose as fat.
The solution to elevated glucagon levels is to eat a high protein, low carb diet. Plan to get 20-30 grams of high-quality protein at each meal. Here are 5 awesome options …
- Chicken Breast
In contrast to ghrelin, leptin tells the brain when we are full. It is triggered by our fat cells. So, the more fat you have on your body, the more leptin you will have. That may sound a good thing, but too much leptin will numb the brain to its effect. It will stop telling us when we are full. That is not what we want.
Leptin is also one of the reasons that restrictive dieting is not a good idea. When we cut back drastically on our food intake, our fat stores shrink and the amount of leptin reduces. This produces hunger cravings.
To optimize your leptin levels, eat smaller meals allowing yourself to feel slight hunger pangs between them. After a couple of weeks, your brain will start responding correctly to the signals that leptin is sending it. You should also avoid restrictive calorie diets.
High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has also been shown to help elevate leptin levels. In terms of diet, focus on getting a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, and protein. Sleep is also an important part of the leptin equation.
This hormone cranks up our fat-burning system so that we burn calories quicker. The best way to get norepinephrine coursing through the body is by way of an intense HIIT-style workout. Caffeine and green tea have also been shown to ramp up levels of norepinephrine.
Unless and until you balance your internal body regulators, you are never going to be able to affect change on the outside. Taking the time to regulate your hormones will allow you to get your body’s orchestra playing in unison. Once you’ve done that, you’ll finally be in a position to reap the rewards of your exercise and nutrition efforts.