Why is it that so many people can spend countless hours in the gym, while eating a strict diet and still not lose much body fat? What about the people who can eat pretty much anything and not put on any body fat? The answer is hormones!
Hormones are chemicals that flow through the bloodstream and signal cells or tissues into action. They direct how our organs work and they control our metabolism. So hormones are what tell your body to store fat or to feed working muscles. To speed up or to slow down your metabolism. When your hormones are not working properly, your body can be a fat storing machine. When they are working properly, your body can be a fat burning, muscle building machine.
Insulin is critical in how the body uses and stores energy. It is produced in the pancreas along with glucagon and these two hormones regulate blood sugar. It helps drive the glucose into our liver, muscles and fat cells. Some of this glucose is used for immediate energy needs and some is stored in the liver for future needs. Insulin is released when we eat and there is a rise in blood sugar (glucose). Glucagon helps us access stored fuel several hours after a meal so our blood sugar doesn’t drop and cause us to get tired. This process is a natural rhythm that gets thrown off when we are constantly snacking between meals keeping our insulin elevated. This is an issue that causes low energy and excess fat storage and can lead to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. People with insulin resistance often feel hungry and fatigued. It is a vicious cycle - they overeat, they are tired and they don’t have energy to exercise. When they don’t use their muscles, the calories are stored as fat instead of going to their muscles, which elevates their problems even more.
Leptin is a master hormone that has a strong effect on other important hormones. It is produced and secreted in our fat cells. Leptin restores our fat reserves when we eat. When working properly it acts as a fuel gauge to communicate with our brain about when to stop consuming food. It also determines the use of our energy and helps us maintain healthy body weight. This powerful hormone regulates other hormones including thyroid, adrenal, pancreatic and sex hormones. If your leptin isn’t functioning properly, these hormones will be directly affected. People with excess body fat tend to have high levels of leptin and typically have leptin resistance, so the leptin receptors are worn. The brain doesn’t receive the proper information that there is enough fuel, so leptin signals the thyroid to slow the metabolism to conserve energy. Their brain thinks they still need fuel, so they overeat (normally high carbohydrates, sugar and junk food) and store excess fat. So this hormone is key to problems with metabolism and energy as well as excess fat storage. When leptin isn’t signaling properly to the brain and goes into energy conservation mode, producing sex hormones will take a back seat to survival. Testosterone and DHEA are male sex hormones and are important for libido, fat distribution, muscle gain, strength, motivation and confidence. Leptin also influences insulin which is another important hormone. Leptin resistance leads to insulin resistance.
Here are ways to get these hormones working properly:
Reduce carbs in your diet: This will help keep insulin and leptin levels lower. Be sure to consume plenty of protein and fat. Try eating most of your carbs from plant sources like fruits and vegetables.
Fast: Skipping a meal or two once in a while can be beneficial for your hormones. Intermittent fasting is when you cycle between periods of eating and periods of not eating. When you fast, insulin levels drop and your body will look to stored fat to burn for energy. Ghrelin, the hunger hormone, will elevate and cause human growth hormone to rise as well, which helps with tissue repair, burning fat and gaining muscle. Fasting can also help lower inflammation which benefits hormones. It can also help improve insulin sensitivity. Try fasting for 16 hours a day and getting in all your meals in the remaining 8. There are many hormonal benefits to this type of feeding schedule.
Make sleep a priority: We hear it all the time, but sleep needs to be a priority if we are to be healthy. Our body has a natural rhythm that cycles approximately every 24 hours. Our body functions change throughout this cycle based on neural and hormonal signals. Proper sleep helps us regulate ghrelin (our hunger hormone), leptin, insulin, cortisol and sex hormones.
Gut health: Getting your gut healthy is so important for your health. Your immune system and hormones are co-related to your gut health and getting your gut healthy will help you burn fat. If you have food allergies or sensitivities it is important to remove these foods from your diet because they cause inflammation in your gut. You need healthy gut flora for gut health so it's important to consume probiotic foods as well as prebiotic fibres. Prebiotics feed probiotics in your gut.
Weight loss is a matter of getting your hormones working properly so that your body functions efficiently and doesn't store excess fat.
The "Take Back Your Mojo" digital download course will teach you about how this works and help you create your personalized plan to get your hormones working optimally.