How Your Hormones Affect Your Weight
Hormones play a key role in weight loss, helping you drop pounds or maintain a healthy weight when they are balanced and making it next to impossible to lose weight when they are out of balance. In this article, we’ll look at how your hormones affect your weight and what you need to know to keep your hormones working optimally for you.
How Your Hormones Affect Your Weight
Serotonin: “The Happy Hormone”
Ever feel so hungry that you find yourself being angry and moody? That can happen from a combination of a drop in blood sugar levels and a decrease in serotonin, the “happy hormone,” which is released when we eat carbs. This can leave us feeling moody and craving bread products.
What can you do to boost serotonin?
- Try eating healthy fats, such as avocado, coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil, and carbohydrates that are also rich in fiber like whole grain bread. This will help stabilize your blood sugar and serotonin levels in a balanced way.
- Be active! Exercise naturally boosts serotonin levels in the body.
- Eat serotonin-boosting foods like dark chocolate, green tea, turmeric and fermented foods.
- The sun helps the body produce serotonin, so get 15-20 minutes of sun per day when possible.
Cortisol: “The Stress Hormone”
Cortisol is a stress hormone that encourages the body to hold onto fat. If your weight loss is at a stand still, it’s likely that cortisol has stopped doing its job, making your body burn less stored fat, especially in the belly region. Cortisol is released in your body when you are under stress. It also makes you crave sugary foods and carbs because of the pleasure-producing chemicals those foods release to counteract the stress, which only adds to your weight problem.
What can you do to reduce cortisol?
- Since cortisol is released during stress, managing your stress levels will help keep this hormone in balance. Try reducing your work load, or adding in some yoga, meditation or breathing techniques to reduce your stress.
- Eating raw, green, leafy vegetables at every meal, such as kale or spinach helps provide the liver with glutathione, an essential nutrient that helps keep cortisol levels balanced.
- Reducing or eliminating coffee when you are stressed is also helpful at balancing cortisol since coffee makes the body release additional cortisol, which will only feed the vicious cycle.
- Laughing has been shown to reduce cortisol levels, so find more ways to add laughter into your life.
Ghrelin: “The Hunger Hormone”
Ghrelin is a hormone that is produced in the stomach and is responsible for triggering your appetite when you have an empty stomach. Increased ghrelin levels are often responsible for cravings and snacking that continues after you’ve already eaten dinner.
What can you do to reduce ghrelin?
- Eating protein, such as turkey breast, eggs or Greek yogurt will help suppress this hormone.
- Staying away from sugary and unhealthy fats is also key to keeping this hormone in check.
- Don’t let your stomach get to empty! Fuel up before you get hungry to avoid the hunger pangs that make you want to eat everything in sight.
- Get more sleep. Sleep deprivation can increase your ghrelin levels, which only leads to more fat storage.
Leptin: “The Appetite Hormone”
Leptin is the hormone that is responsible for making you feel satisfied when you eat. Leptin is not as abundant when we age because our bodies no longer respond as well to leptin’s signals, which makes it easier to overeat.
What can you do to increase leptin?
- Exercising for 30 minutes per day and eating vegetables in the morning (perhaps in an omelet) will help you reduce the inflammation that interrupts leptin production.
- You can increase your sensitivity to and boost your leptin levels by eating a diet that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), such as salmon, mackerel and sardines.
- Get adequate amounts of sleep because leptin levels are lowered with lack of sleep.
Adiponectin: “The Fat-Burning Hormone”
Aidiponectin tells the body to burn fat for fuel and the more you have of this hormone in your bloodstream, the more calories you will typically burn. Unfortunately, the more fat you have, the less adiponectin you have in your body, which makes it very difficult to start losing weight.
What can you do to increase adiponectin?
- Add more magnesium to your diet by eating chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, spinach and kale, or by taking a magnesium supplement (with the approval of your physician).
An imbalance of insulin causes excess glucose to be present in your body, and that can make your system less effective at lowering your blood sugar levels. Then, what happens is your body starts storing the carbohydrates you eat as fat instead of burning it for energy, making it feel almost impossible to lose weight.
What can you do to balance your insulin levels?
- Some scientists believe that drinking two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before eating a high carb meal can reduce blood glucose in people who have an insulin resistance.
- With the help of a physician, there are prescription medications available for regulating blood sugar if you have a consistent problem.