Have you noticed a fairly rapid weight gain after a certain age or struggled with weight loss for years without seeing any real results? If so, your personal body chemistry might be the culprit. While many people who struggle with excess weight have a history of making bad food choices and limiting their physical activity, a certain percentage of the population may actually suffer from hormonal imbalances that make gaining weight far too easy and losing it next to impossible.
As several noted medical researchers are just now finding out, the number of people dealing with this hormone-related weight loss resistance could actually be much larger than previously believed. In fact, Dr. Sara Gottfried says that up to 90% of weight loss resistance can be traced back to hormones!
But if you’re one of the thousands of women and men whose body chemistry makes losing weight difficult, there is hope. In fact, with the right combined approach you can get your hormones back in balance and even skirt around your natural tendency toward weight gain.
What Hormones Do
Hormones are naturally occurring chemicals that act like triggers within the body. They tell our bodies when to grow as children, when to stop as young adults, and they tell our metabolism to slow as we age. Unfortunately, they can also tell our bodies when to start storing fat instead of burning it.
How Hormones Contribute to Our Weight Gain
Certain hormones (most notably leptin) can actually trigger hunger—even when our stomachs are full. This particular hormonal imbalance can lead to overeating, poor food choices, and an overall intake of excess calories that no number of trips to the gym can combat.
One of the most important hormones in our bloodstreams is insulin. This hormone is responsible for converting excess carbohydrates into fat for energy storage. Unfortunately, when we overproduce insulin our bodies pack on the pounds. That’s partially why diabetes and obesity are so closely linked.
In turn, excess fat can produce additional hormones (like estrogen) which further upsets our natural chemical balance and can make managing weight even more difficult.
If you’re like most of us, one of your most annoying trouble spots is your belly. But your diet may only play a small part in creating and keeping that “spare tire” that most of us would love to lose.
Cortisol can actually increase the likelihood that you gain and retain belly fat. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone because it’s produced naturally when stressors (physical, emotional, or even mental) are added to our daily routine. This hormone actually tells our body to start storing up that stubborn fat just where most of us would like to see it disappear—right at our waistlines. And who isn’t stressed out in this hectic world?
We all make choices based driven by emotion. And when our hormones are out of balance, we may be more prone to making poor choices based on those emotional cues rather than logical thoughts. Scientists call this “internal disinhibition”—a fancy term for undermining your resolve by giving in to emotional backtalk. This emotional pressure can easily lead us to binge, drink to excess (which is bad for your waistline and your metabolism), and engage in “comforting” sedentary behaviors like becoming a couch potato.
But strict dieting—the old “Drill Sergeant” method that many resort to out of desperation—can be even worse. By giving yourself ultimatums, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Nobody is perfect and when you backslide or cheat, or don’t see results fast, those negative feelings (shame, fear, anger) can easily overwhelm you and trigger poor food and activity choices.
This emotional component is part of what leads many of us to succumb to yo-yo dieting and why a more comprehensive life change is not only the most beneficial way to lose weight but the best way to maintain your healthy momentum.
What You Can Do About Your Hormonal Imbalance
Dr. Gottfried believes that some of the best ways to restart your hormonal system and balance your body chemistry are to eat right, exercise, and be more “objective about stressors”. This multi-pronged approach helps to stabilize your hormonal balance, increase your metabolic rate, and help you mentally cope with stressors while changing the way you think about weight loss.
Change the Way You Eat and Drink
Dr. Gottfried is adamant that roughly 90% of weight loss resistance is related to hormone imbalances. According to her, the biggest single cause of these imbalances is improper diet—the food we put in our body determines how our body reacts. When we feed it high-calorie, fatty foods that are over-processed and contain “junk” ingredients our body destabilizes its own chemical balance.
These poor diets:
- Increase insulin production
- Cause blood sugar spikes
- Decrease your thyroid functioning
- Lower natural levels of amino acids
- Mess with the natural balance of “feel good” chemicals (serotonin and dopamine) in your brain
- And may even weaken certain neurotransmitter mechanisms
On the other hand, if you limit those “junky” foods, substitute healthier options, and control your intake of alcohol, you—like most people—can effectively rebalance your hormone levels without resorting to more drastic measures.
Exercise does so much more than help you burn excess calories. A body that functions at a healthy level has built-in processes that help maintain hormonal balance. Perhaps the most critical components that regular exercise help regulate are our “feel good” hormones—specifically serotonin and dopamine.
Serotonin is a naturally occurring chemical that helps us maintain a positive attitude and generally “happy” mood. When serotonin levels become imbalanced, we suffer emotional stress, decreased motivation, lethargy, and depression. In fact, serotonin reuptake inhibitors are one of the most commonly prescribed types of antidepressant drugs on the market. But regular exercise can not only help increase the levels of free serotonin in your bloodstream, it can help you maintain steady levels as well—eliminating or reducing those dark mood swings that may contribute to binge eating and increased stress.
Dopamine, on the other hand, is a chemical that creates sensations of pleasure. Unfortunately, eating sugary and fatty foods can also increase your levels of dopamine—essentially training your body to eat poorly. Exercise is a healthy alternative to increase the level of dopamine in your body. (It’s one of the chemicals responsible for “the runner’s high.”) Dopamine can actually decrease sensations of pain as well—even the chronic type that may lead some of us toward a more sedentary lifestyle.
Eliminate (or Manage) Stress
How can we train ourselves to handle stress better—thus decreasing its physical and emotional effects? By being more aware of our stressors and becoming more objective about them. This approach has shown amazing results in clinical trials and truly provides the best scientific approach to minimizing the effects of stress.
1) Talk through issues with a friend. Having another point of view or simply a sympathetic ear can be cathartic.
2) Enhance your consciousness through more “mindful” activities like yoga or meditation .
3) Add B-Vitamins and Omega-3 fatty acids to your diet. Foods rich in these elements are best, but supplements are available if necessary.
4) Get a massage at least once a month. (Modern science is just starting to uncover the benefits of traditional Eastern treatments.)
5) Limit alcohol and caffeine intake. Both contain chemicals that can upset your natural balance. Green tea is a much better alternative because it contains a natural amino acid that reduces stress levels.
Cleanse and Reset Your Body
One of the easiest ways to get your body back in balance is to cleanse it of harmful toxins and give yourself a solid baseline from which to start improving. Clinical trials and experiments have shown that giving your body a day or two to process naturally can cause a dramatic change in your hormonal balance. You can use The Hollywood 48-Hour Diet®  as a juice cleanse to jump start your hormonal change in just 48-hours.
But the beneficial bio-chemical effects of a juice cleanse are just part of the equation. The Hollywood 48-Hour Diet® has been clinically proven to help people lose up to 10 pounds in just two days. And, there’s more to the science than simply cutting out eating solid foods.
In addition to the cleansing effects of removing toxins from your body and helping your digestive system self-regulate, The Hollywood 48-Hour Diet® can be used as part of a fasting or partial-fasting routine .
While Dr. Gottfried says that eliminating refined carbohydrates, sugars, and sugar substitutes from your diet is a wonderful way to begin that hormonal reset, other scientists have adopted fasting—even for a day—as a way to help regulate the amount of insulin in your blood stream and restore a natural order to the biochemical “hunger signals” your body produces. Eat less and store less fat!
However, it’s important to keep in mind that your weight loss journey will be as much a mental fight as a physical one. We’re here to help with educational and motivational posts like 4 steps to mental wellness and weight loss , and harnessing the power of positive self-talk  because we’re committed to your success.