by Bev Ratcliff…
For this month’s article, I am going to start the conversation with three hormones, each of which can corrupt your weight loss goals this year if you don’t set about re-balancing them. Hormones are far more powerful than we might think. If we don’t get them working for us, instead of against us, we simply won’t reach our health and physique goals.
This is a fast-acting hunger hormone, produced in the gut lining, which is responsible for the wave of hunger that reaches insatiable levels if you miss a meal. Skipping meals, or having inconsistencies in your eating schedule, can cause Ghrelin to increase and binge eating to win out. To keep this hormone at bay, set up a regular eating schedule where you’re eating every 3-4 hours. Plan your day ahead if this means you’re going to need a packed lunch or snacks. Getting caught without a snack will lead to reaching for a quick fix—a cupcake, a mocha instead of a green tea, maybe an extra portion at lunch—and will screw up your nutrition plan and your metabolic levels. It will also take its toll on your training that day!
Leptin is our good friend when it comes to leaning up. It is a control hormone released by our fat cells and it tells our bodies that the cells are full. In general, the more leptin, the better. However, the leptin signal doesn’t always get through to the brain, which is why your body can make you think that you are starving, when you have in fact eaten plenty. Increased age brings a natural resistance to this hormone, which is yet another good reason to establish strong rules around portion control earlier in life. To help increase your Leptin sensitivity and to boost levels, include omega 3 rich foods which contain Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which has been proven to stimulate leptin. Ground flax seeds, wild salmon, mackerel, oysters and sardines are high in these acids and as a bonus these foods also fight depression, heart disease and types of arthritis. Sweet!
If you’re trying to get lean and your cortisol is high, forget it. All your diet and workout ducks can be in a row, but if your body is pumping out cortisol, you will see the extra lbs attached to your butt and gut. Cortisol is a stress hormone and our bodies pump it out consistently, especially for those of us who live in cities, where we are bombarded with stressors, from alarms to neon lights, computer screens, traffic horns and people! Cortisol encourages our bodies to hold on to visceral (surface) fat, and drives us to crave both salty and fatty foods. Yikes. To counteract the effects of cortisol, one strategy is to steer clear of excess caffeine. In one study from the University of Oklahoma, just 2 cups of regular coffee increased the output of cortisol by 25% for 3 hours! Green tea has been show to help reduce cortisol levels. Yoga and breathing techniques stimulate the oxygenation of the body and therefore reduce stress. Yoga is often cited as a magic exercise for weight loss, where in fact it is the calming and relaxation of the mind and body, not the yoga moves, which help lower stress hormones and enable the fat burning to begin! Sleep is also paramount. A restful night will set up a productive day. Turn the TV off and get to bed for 7-9 optimal hours. Replenish and recharge your adrenal glands and you won’t need that extra coffee to kick your ass through the afternoon.
Bev’s Hormone Tips to Live By
- Plan your meals ahead of time. Don’t get caught with a 6-hour gap where your Ghrelin levels will rise, along with your likelihood to reach for a sugary pumpkin muffin.
- Include oysters, salmon and oily fish as well as ground flax seeds to your food rotations. It’s as simple as adding a tablespoon of ground flax to your scrambled egg or a salmon omelet at the weekend.
- Chill out. Running about and pressuring yourself to fit so much in can be counter productive. Add a green tea to your morning or afternoon instead of yet another coffee. Add a walk, a yoga class or simply realizing when you’re tired and need to go to switch off and get some sleep.