As a woman, trying to lose weight can be very frustrating. Sometimes it feels like you’re doing everything right but you just can’t ditch those pesky pounds. For some women, the first few pounds are the hardest. For others, it’s those last five pounds that won’t budge. Regardless, it’s enough to make you want to throw the scale out the window and never strap a tape measure around your waist ever again. But what if I told you that when it comes to weight loss, you’re focusing on the wrong thing? Rather than worrying so much about the number on the scale, it’s time to turn your attention to your hormones.
You may not even realize it, but your body’s hormones have a major impact on your pant size. For many women, an overload or lack of certain hormones are actually blocking weight loss efforts. Now for some good news — there are a few small lifestyle changes that you can make to get your hormones working in your favor rather than against you! Find out which hormones have a major effect on weight, plus what you can do to balance your fat hormones, below:
Adiponectin is a hormone that regulates glucose levels, breaks down fatty acids, enhances muscle’s ability to use carbohydrates as energy, boosts metabolism, and increases the rate at which the body breaks down fat. Those are all important factors if you’re looking to lose weight and/or maintain a healthy weight.
Numerous studies have linked low adiponectin levels with weight gain and obesity. Here’s some bad news — researchers have found the more fat a person has, the lower their adiponectin levels are. On the flip side, a thinner person who has a low body fat percentage has more adiponectin being released from their fat cells.
It’s important to raise low adiponectin levels since this hormone impacts more than just weight. Researchers say:
“Recently, it has been observed that lower levels of adiponectin can substantially increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, atherosclerosis, and cardiovascular disease in patients who are obese.”
What You Should Do:
To help your body produce more adiponectin, first, take a close look at your diet. You’ll want to introduce some magnesium-rich foods into your daily meals. Some magnesium-rich foods include spinach, pumpkin seeds, almonds, avocados, and figs. You also want to eat more monounsaturated fats and less carbohydrates. Plus, regular exercise can go a long way in producing adiponectin hormone (especially in overweight individuals).
Have you ever experienced food cravings shortly after a meal? Have you ever stayed up late because you just needed to eat a sugary cupcake or some greasy potato chips? If so, chances are your ghrelin levels were elevated. Ghrelin is often referred to as the “hunger hormone.” To put it simply, the higher your ghrelin levels are, the hungrier you are. In certain studies, researchers found people given the hormone ate significantly more than their usual food intake. This particular hormone is mainly produced in the stomach and works by signaling the brain to let it know the body wants food. It also stimulates the brain’s “pleasure centers,” making you remember how good that first bite tasted. I suppose that’s why it’s so hard to eat just one cookie! Researchers call this whole process the stomach-brain connection.
If you are someone who thinks they can beat cravings by starving yourself then think again! Reducing calories in an effort to lose weight has actually been known to drive up ghrelin levels. Researchers found elevated hormone levels in people even after they spent 12 months on a reduced-calorie diet. So, in other words, your body never truly adapts to eating less and will continue to alert the body that it’s hungry.
What You Should Do:
To help keep you feeling full, feed your body healthy fats and protein. While diet plays a role in ghrelin levels, new studies show prioritizing sleep is one of the main factors in reducing this hunger hormone. Chronic lack of sleep increases ghrelin, making you feel hungry when you don’t really need to eat. General guidelines suggest you get somewhere between seven and nine hours of sleep per night. While that may sound difficult to do since there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to get all of your tasks done, it’s important to set aside enough time to rest. If you are someone who has trouble falling asleep (or staying asleep) then it’s time to create a relaxing evening wind down ritual that you follow every night before tucking yourself into bed.
Leptin is another hormone that plays a large role in appetite and weight loss. It’s released from your body’s fat cells and then interacts with your brain (the hypothalamus to be exact) to decrease appetite and burn more calories. Leptin essentially lets the brain know that the body is full and has stored enough fat. Opposite of ghrelin, leptin is often called the “starvation hormone.” The more body fat a person has, the more leptin their fat cells will release. Obese people have very high levels of leptin. While that sounds like it would be a good thing, a person can become leptin resistant.
Leptin resistance is a condition where the hormone’s important “I’m full” signal isn’t delivered to the brain. When this happens, the body thinks it’s starving (even when it isn’t). It’s important to note that leptin resistance can be reversed. As you lose weight, leptin will become more effective.
What You Should Do:
Similar to how you decrease ghrelin levels, in order to increase leptin levels you need to clean up your diet and get enough sleep. As far as diet goes, make sure to eat plenty of healthy fats, protein, and soluble fiber. You also want to avoid processed foods and lower your triglycerides.
Additionally, when researchers studied the effect of lack of sleep on ghrelin they also found poor sleep negatively impacts leptin.
Lastly, studies suggest physical activity could help reverse leptin resistance.
4) Insulin Imbalance
Insulin is an important hormone that’s produced in the pancreas and affects the entire body. It allows glucose from food to enter your body’s cells and be broken down to produce energy, which is essential for your cells to work properly. Insulin also plays an important role in helping your body recover from intense workouts and maintain proper blood sugar levels. If you’re overweight, however, there’s a good chance your insulin levels aren’t in balance. That negatively affects the breakdown of stored fat.
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