You may always have this question in your mind: How hormones affect weight loss? How do I know if I have a “hormonal imbalance” and how can I change it to help me lose weight?
Being overweight often has nothing to do with calories or exercise. For a huge number of us, the problem is instead about misfiring hormones. Research is still catching up with this paradigm shift, which has yet to be comprehensively studied. But seeing how this revelation has helped my customers slim down and feel better gives me confidence that it’s true for most women who are trying to lose weight and can’t. If you think off-balance hormones are causing your weight gain? You already know about some weight-affecting hormone issues, like thyroid and insulin imbalances. But other, more subtle ones could also be keeping you from the body you want.
Hormones direct our body’s responses: how we respond to outside stimuli, like food, exercise, stress, sleep, and more. They play a huge role in how your metabolism functions—how you use food for fuel, whether food gets stored or burned, whether you feel hungry or full, whether you experience cravings or not, your mood, and even your motivation to exercise.
When we hear the words “hormone imbalance,” we get the urge to run to the doctor and get all sorts of tests done. But this is not always a medical issue. In fact, more often than not, it’s a nutritional one.
Because hormones give us feedback that we can “feel”—the feeling of fullness for example—you can use sensations to let us know if our hormones are in balance for you. The three key sensations we track at Metabolic Effect are hunger, energy and, cravings (HEC). These three things give us clues into how our hormones are behaving. When I have little hunger, my energy is balanced, and my cravings are low, then I know that my hormones are at a balanced place for me.
You cannot lose weight and keep it off forever if your HEC is unbalanced. Because if you’re experiencing ravenous hunger, energy swings, and insatiable cravings on a “diet,” chances are you are not going to be staying on that diet for long.
Here are the steps that you can do to begin balancing your own hormones, in order to start down the weight loss pathway:
- Start by recording your hunger, energy, and cravings throughout the day on a scale from 1 to 10. One assessment per day is sufficient, so long as you pay specific attention to the specific times of the day when hunger and/or cravings were high and energy was low. E.g. you might be a mid-afternoon snacking person or an eat-all-night person. Mark those times down.
- If HEC is not balanced—hunger and cravings are high and energy is low—then the first thing to do is increase your daily protein intake by 20 to 30 grams. This is equivalent to a medium-sized chicken breast or a scoop of protein powder in a smoothie. Protein stabilizes blood sugar, reduces hunger, and keeps you fuller for longer. Fiber also helps with this, so increase your veggie intake, too. Contact your personal health coach here if you are not sure how many grams of your daily protein intake.
- If HEC is balanced, your hormones are balanced. And now you can start to think about weight loss. Play around with your carbohydrate intake. Some people need more, while others will need less. But make sure to keep protein and veggies high.
If you change your nutrition and your stress is low and your sleep is good, but you still cannot lose weight, it might be wise to get a full thyroid panel run. I don’t like to jump right to thyroid or adrenal testing (glands that regulate hormones and play a large role in metabolism), but after all nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle steps have been exhausted you might want to consider it.
Now you know the “whys” of your broken metabolism, the reasons regular diets don’t address the root cause of your weight gain. Hormones dictate what your body does with food. Fix your hormones and your body will slim down without any extra effort from you.
There’s a lot we can do via nutrition and lifestyle to optimize energy, lower hunger and cravings. Typically, a few small nutrition tweaks can make you feel better, and help the pounds start to come off.
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