Routinely cheating on your eating plan or shying away from physical activity may explain why your weight loss has come to a screeching halt – or failed to take off in the first place. If you’re not burning more calories than you take in, pounds will stick around. But if conscientious calorie counting and regular gym sessions get you nowhere, consider another factor at play in the feud against fat—your hormones. Though as yet there is no proven miracle combo of foods or behaviors that will jump-start those internal executors into setting our fat on fire, we can give our hormones a better chance by creating a stable environment in which they can work.
Eat Whole Foods
Think a diet high in fiber, complex carbs, and low-glycemic-index foods like whole grains and fiber-rich vegetables and fruit, as well as unsaturated fats, which will take longer to metabolize and help you stave off cravings, says Alice Chang, M.D., assistant professor of endocrinology and metabolism in the department of internal medicine at UT Southwestern.
Eat foods in their intact form, Greene adds: whole oranges, for instance, instead of juice. “One glass of juice might take three oranges, plus the added sugar,” he says, “but if you were eating oranges themselves, you’d probably stop after one-and-a-half.” Having five or six small meals of lean protein and complex carbohydrates throughout the day will help keep your blood sugar stable.
Cameron recommends exercising an hour per day, five days a week, to combat hormonal weight gain. But that doesn’t have to mean a solid hour of running: “Park the car at the end of the lot,” she says. “Take the stairs.”
Strength-training can also help with hormonal balance, says Brian McFarlin, Ph. D., associate professor of exercise, physiology, nutrition, and immunology at the University of Houston: “It alters the cortisol level, helping you burn calories and fat. Even at rest, muscle burns more calories than other tissue.”
For most people, basic stress-relief measures, such as getting a massage or seeing a counselor, “will lead to better hormonal balance,” Gluck says. A variety of research shows that people who practice yoga three times a week tend to gain less weight; one study published last year by the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that middle-aged people who did yoga gained less weight over a 10-year period than those who didn’t.
A 2004 study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison revealed that subjects who slept less had lower levels of leptin [satiety hormone] and higher levels of ghrelin [hunger hormone]. Other research has shown that just three days of sleep disruption increases insulin resistance in humans.
These 10 hormones hold the secret to losing weight and feeling great.
In essence, insulin governs your body, and it has a profound effect on aging.
Glucagon performs the exact opposite function of insulin—it melts fat.
If a person is having trouble in controlling appetite, it is always a leptin imbalance problem.
Human Growth Hormone
Human growth hormone (HGH) is the quintessential anti-aging hormone.
Testosterone makes men masculine, but it is also present in small amounts in women, and aids libido in both genders.
Estrogen increases alertness, lowers body fat, protects against heart and Alzheimer’s disease, and more.
Progesterone reduces anxiety and has a calming effect on mood – it makes women happy.
DHEA is gaining ground as a hormone that improves one’s sense of well-being, relieves fatigue, fights depression, and plays a role in the prevention of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women.
Cortisol, a stress hormone, gives us energy. This major hormone keeps us alive thanks to its three essential and powerful properties: it increases blood sugar levels (and thus energy levels), raises blood pressure, and neutralizes inflammation.
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