My Top Tips to beat the hormonal weight gain.
Ladies, are you noticing as you age it seems harder and harder to shift the weight?
You’ve slowly been gaining weight and now the stubborn belly fat seems impossible to lose.
You’re wearing clothes to cover your body instead of clothes you love.
Your moods are all over the place and you feel like something just isn’t right.
It doesn’t matter how little you eat you still can’t seem to budge the stubborn belly fat.
All you want to do is lose the extra weight and feel sexy & confident again!
I know what it’s like to have your hormones out of balance. In my late 30’s I experienced a period of high stress in my life. I felt completely exhausted. I had no energy to exercise and as much as I wanted to eat well, I just craved sugar and coffee to keep me going.
My cortisol levels were really low and my oestrogen levels through the roof. I was in hormonal chaos and I feel like crap.
This is when I realised what a HUGE impact our hormones have on not just our moods but our energy, sleep and digestion. Ageing, stress (even too much exercise), poor nutrition, and our lifestyle all have an impact.
When our hormones are out of balance, no matter how disciplined we are trying to be, it can be nearly impossible to lose weight.
Today I’m going to share with you my top tips to help balance your hormones and stop the hormonal weight gain.
First up let’s have a look at the different hormones in our body and how this might be affecting your weight, energy, mood, sleep and digestion.
Cortisol – This is known as the stress hormone. When we feel stress in our bodies cortisol releases glucose. Glucose is what gives us energy! This is fantastic if we are being chased by a sabre tooth tiger as we will have the energy to escape.
These days many of us our under constant stress and this causes our bodies to release more cortisol and glucose than we require. This additional glucose results in elevated blood sugar levels. Our body’s job is to even out our blood sugar levels and this is done by storing the extra glucose. First stop is our cells and liver and the rest is stored as fat.
What you might not realise is that constantly being busy and too much exercise might be more stress than your body needs.
Insulin – This is known as the fat storage controller. Insulin’s job is to allow glucose to enter the cells and be used as energy. When we eat certain foods, they break down into a simple sugar called glucose. If there is too much glucose in our bloodstream, our bodies are triggered to release Insulin to create balance in our blood stream.
When we have consistently high levels of insulin our oestrogen increases which can lead to insulin resistance (Pre-Diabetes, Diabetes Type 2).
Serotonin – The “happy” hormone. This hormone affects are mood, appetite and sleep. Signs of low serotonin are poor memory, low mood.
Low Serotonin can lead to craving sweet or starchy foods, difficulty sleeping, low self-esteem, anxiety and depression.
Thyroid Hormone – Affects metabolism, energy, sleep, weight and mood. Keeps your body in harmony!
If your thyroid hormone isn’t working properly it can cause fatigue, weight gain, cold intolerance, dry or brittle hair, memory problems, constipation, irritability and depression.
Leptin – Controls our hunger – Leptin lets us know when we are full. If it’s not working properly we can miss the “I’m full” signal and never feel satiated.
Women who are overweight may have high levels of leptin as our fat cells produce leptin. However, even though copious amounts of leptin may be present the signalling may not work (leptin resistance). This can make you think you need to keep eating more!
To help improve leptin resistance avoid processed food. Eat soluble fibre, improve gut health. Increase exercise and include quality sleep.
Testosterone – Affects energy, libido and lean muscle mass. As women age their levels of testosterone decrease naturally.
To combat the reduction in muscle mass Women can include resistance training. Resistance training will build muscle, increase muscle mass resulting in increased metabolism!
Progesterone– Plays an important role in the menstrual cycle and maintaining the early stages of pregnancy.
When women’s progesterone levels decrease it results in irregular menstrual cycle, headaches and mood changes.
Oestrogen – The protective hormone, produced in the ovaries, adrenal glands and fat cells. Affects brain function, the monthly cycle, skin elasticity, libido and mood.
As we women age, our testosterone and progesterone levels are decreasing which can results in excess oestrogen.
Too much oestrogen can cause fat gain, water retention and bloating.
To help reduce Oestrogen we can increase fibre, eat healthy bacteria to improve gut health and avoid exposure to Xenoestrogens from plastics, cosmetics etc. Also including regular exercise, managing stress, sleeping well will help bring oestrogen levels into a healthy range.
What causes hormone chaos?
Hormone chaos can happen at any age although midlife is when women start to notice it the most. You may be experiencing perimenopause. Changes in your menstrual cycle and levels in oestrogen and progesterone begin to decline.
In my case, it was too much stress over a prolonged period and not listening to my body!
In my 20’s and early 30’s I was super active and did whatever it took to get lean. Spots Model comps, eating just chicken, fish and green veggies and endless hours of cardio. I entered Marathons and worked to the point of exhaustion.
When your hormones are out of whack you may feel:
- Weight gain
- Brain Fog
- Low Libido
To regain energy, lose weight and feel fantastic it’s crucial to start listening to your body and working with it rather than against it.
Top Tips to beat the hormonal weight gain
EAT A NUTRIENT DENSE DIET including healthy fats, quality protein, unprocessed carbohydrates, fibrous vegetables.
AVOID sugar and refined carbohydrates
IMPROVE GUT HEALTH by including more fermented food/drinks, bone broth
INCLUDE REGULAR EXERCISE that makes you feel good afterwards
GET CONSISTENT, HIGH QUALITY SLEEP
Actions you can take now…….
Reduce Stress, balance cortisol
- MORE – Relaxation, meditation, and exercise that makes you feel good afterwards, including more enjoyable activities. 7-9 hours sleep per night.
- LESS – Constant busyness, worrying about things you cannot control, extreme exercise, caffeine, highly processed sugar foods.
Balance Blood Sugar levels – reduce insulin produced
- MORE – Healthy fats – Nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil, fatty fish (salmon/trout). Nutrient dense food. High fibre foods, vegetables, nuts, seeds.
- LESS – Processed foods (foods in a packet). High sugar foods, high processed carbohydrates (bread, pasta, cakes, biscuits).
Increase Serotonin – Improve your Mood!
- MORE – Exercise that leaves you feeling energised (increases serotonin in your brain). Get out in the fresh air and sunlight! As much of the serotonin produced comes from the gut. A focus on gut health can improve the production (more of that in another blog). Try including some fermented foods and drinks in your diet. Add nutrient dense foods, if our diet lacks a variety of vitamins we are at higher risk of serotonin deficiency. Vitamin B6 & B12.
- LESS – Stress, chronic stress can deplete serotonin. Cut out unhealthy fats and avoid processed foods.