People think that losing weight is just a matter of following the classic approach: eat less + exercise more = lose weight. However, that equation doesn’t factor in the most important influence on your body’s metabolism and energy-processing system: your hormones!
This is one key to weight loss that you won’t find in your meal plan “points,” or your Zumba class – in fact, achieving hormone balance is the foundation for maintaining a healthy weight!
1) High Estrogen Levels
High levels of estrogen puts fat on your belly and hips – even if you skip meals and work out like crazy. In fact, calorie deprivation and high-stress activity can make hormone imbalance worse!
Nearly all women begin to develop higher levels of estrogen in their early 30s — it’s called “estrogen dominance.” Some men also develop high estrogen when their hormone levels begin to drop in their early 40s.
What to do:
Reduce your body’s estrogen “load” by trying the following strategies:
- Use topical bioidentical progesterone cream to help counteract the effects of high estrogen! This is one of the quickest ways to start reducing the effects of estrogen in your body. For many people, this can make a huge difference in energy and weight loss.
- Eat foods that help your liver detoxify excess estrogen. Vegetables containing a phytonutrient called indole-3-carbinol (I3C) have been shown to improve the production of “good” estrogen and decrease the “bad” estrogen. Learn more in Dr. Randolph’s book From Belly Fat to Belly Flat.
- Consider supplements and blends that help reduce estrogen, containing Calcium D-Glucarate or Diindolylmethane (DIM)
2) Avoid Processed Foods
Elevated blood sugar levels from processed foods, sugar, and simple carbs cause your body to develop insulin resistance and keep too much fat in storage in your cells. One challenge is to resist the marketing claims on processed foods that appear to support weight loss.
Just because a package says “low calorie” or “low fat” does not mean it will help you lose weight! Often, those products replace fat and calories with sugar substitutes and chemical leaveners, which actually raise your blood sugar and contribute to weight gain.
What to do:
Instead of typical weight-loss foods, pre-packaged meals, and other processed foods, focus on eating “whole foods” as much as possible. This requires a shift in thinking! Memorize this quote from Michael Pollan for grocery shopping: “If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.”
Another good rule of thumb: if it contains more than 5 ingredients or any ingredients a third-grader cannot pronounce, don’t eat it.
- Give up “dieting” and try whole-foods eating for long-term health. When you shift from processed to whole foods, there is no need to count calories!
- Don’t be afraid of calories and fat — as long as they are “good” fats and “healthy” calories. Think avocados, olive oil, grass-fed butter, almonds, and full-fat plain yogurt with fruit.
- Read labels to scrutinize sugar content. Daily values are not listed! Men should have no more than 9 tsp (27 grams) a day. For women, it is 6 tsp (24 grams), and for children, no more than 4 tsp (16 grams). Most breakfast cereals (supposedly a healthy food?) contain 10 to 14 grams of sugar in one serving!
3) Get More Sleep
High levels of the hormone “ghrelin,” a side effect of not getting enough sleep, can also sabotage your waistline.
A chronic sleep deficit leads to elevated levels of ghrelin and lower levels of a hormone called “leptin” in your body. Ghrelin is produced in your stomach and notifies you when you are hungry. Leptin is produced in the fat cells and tells you when you are full and no longer need to eat.
When you don’t get enough sleep, your higher ghrelin levels send the signal that you need to eat, but the lower leptin levels are not high enough to tell you when to stop! When lack of sleep drives leptin levels down, you also don’t feel as satisfied after you eat.
As you can imagine, this leads to extra snacking and overeating at mealtime. The signals your body is sending to your brain are simply out of whack! Over time, chronic partial sleep loss leads to more and more weight gain.
What to do:
This one is easy – get more sleep! Aim for the recommended 7 to 8 hours a night. If you are chronically overtired, occasionally choosing an extra hour of sleep instead of hitting the gym might be actually a good thing!