How to Fix The 3 Main Hormones That Make You Fat

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How to Fix The 3 Main Hormones That Make You Fat

If I were to sit here now and start to list the myriad things I’ve seen and heard weight gain blamed on over the years, I might not have the opportunity to get back up from my seat before my buttocks permanently fused with it and I had to carry it with me for the remainder of my life. Sugar, coffee, Thai food, donuts, socialising, Netflix, wine, children and work show up as some of the most common.

Technically, I can’t argue with any of these, but the elimination of them from your life might not be the solution you imagined it was. Our lifestyle choices have an impact on our bodies, and these impacts can be complicated to undo, often requiring a deeper understanding of what’s happening inside us than “Too much take-away is making me gain weight.”

The problem is that some of our lifestyle choices cause our bodies to actually work against us. Our hormones get out of balance, so our bodies make changes in the levels of other hormones to compensate, and before we know it our levels are about as stable as a Kardashian’s marriage.

Of all the hormones that have the potential to become unbalanced in your body, there are three that are more likely than any other to contribute significantly to weight gain. Here’s what you need to know:

INSULIN

What Is Insulin?

Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas that ensures we make use of the carbohydrates we eat. When we eat carbs, the pancreas releases insulin into the bloodstream. The insulin then teams up with the carbs, binds with the cell receptors and signals to the cell to let it in.

What’s The Problem?

In a cell that’s already full of glycogen (the stored form of carbohydrate), there is no space for more, Nonetheless the insulin will attempt to transport it into the cell, which can result in inflammation. When storage in the cell proves impossible, the package returns to the bloodstream, where it is detected, and further insulin secretion is prompted, which in turn triggers a carbohydrate craving. This leaves you with too much carbohydrate in your system, which has to be stored somewhere and will ultimately end up as fat, as well as suffering from a false desire to eat more carbohydrates, which is the exact opposite of what you need.

What Can I Do?

Insulin resistance (the common term for the above condition) can be managed with an eating plan that limits carbohydrate intake to what’s required for your energy needs, combined with a training program that includes conditioning and resistance training.

CORTISOL

What Is Cortisol?

Cortisol is a stress hormone. Back in more hunty-gathery times, it would have been useful in stressful situations like suddenly and unexpectedly being confronted with something that wants to eat us. It is responsible for the sense of high-alert we experience in these times, and it also takes all available fuel sources and makes them readily available to us for use in either fighting or fleeing.

What’s The Problem?

The problem is that these days, in spite of the fact that our lives are blighted by comparatively few sabre-toothed tigers, situations that prompt a similar stress response are rampant. Pressure at work, relationship issues, money worries, date-anxiety, no-date-anxiety, an obsessive compulsion to compare ourselves to people in the public eye… Get the picture? So that fight-or-flight response is there all the time, and when I said it it finds all available fuel sources that’s exactly what I meant, it’s gonna find all the sugar you’ve eaten, everything you’ve got stored, all the fat, and as much energy it can muster from breaking down your muscles (which as regular readers of this blog know is going to slow your metabolism), and then when you don’t use that energy in a fight to the death with an extinct predator, it’s going to find somewhere to store them. Guess how it’s going to store them? That’s right, fat. Want to hear my favourite bit? Cortisol affects your sleep quality, and you know what reduced sleep quality leads to? Higher cortisol levels. Awesome, right?

What Can I Do?

Whilst technically exercise does release cortisol, it’s a controlled and directed release that sees it used for its true purpose, which is preferable. When you exercise, cortisol works for you, so be sure to exercise regularly. Outside of that, sufficient sleep and a diet of whole foods, as well as developing habits that help you relax, like regular walks (somewhere green if you can find it), or talking someone close by into giving you a massage. Finally, make time to socialise and de-stress with friends.

OESTROGEN

What Is Oestrogen?

Oestrogen is one of the hormones that regulates the reproductive system. It also helps maintain bone strength, and has been linked with lower risk of heart disease.

What’s The Problem?

Like so many hormones, the right amount of oestrogen is a delicate balance. Either abundance or deficit can result in weight gain, and unfortunately, weight gain tends to lead to higher levels of oestrogen, which just perpetuates the weight gain. Elevated oestrogen levels can also result in a range of other issues including irritability, depression, and reproductive issues. It has also been linked with endometriosis and uterine cancer.

What Can I Do?

A whole food diet and fat-reducing exercise are valuable tools against excessive oestrogen. Avoid hepatic toxins like alcohol and some prescription drugs, which will interfere with the liver’s capacity to clear unwanted oestrogen, and once again, try to sleep when your circadian rhythms dictate, rather than when Netflix dictates.

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