Summer’s around the corner, and as per usual, we’re staring at ourselves in the mirror, grabbing that excess belly fat, staring at our cellulite (ladies), getting anxious and self-conscious about having to head to the pool or the beach.
And as much as body confidence and loving yourself at all stages in your life is our goal, knowing where to start to enable yourself to feel proud and confident in your own skin is what this blog is about.
First things first. Diet, is just another word for food intake. It is now confused with calorie restriction, food group exclusion, anxiety and rebound weight gain. For true, sustainable weight loss, the answer is what are your hormones doing?
Our hormones are a key player to achieving real, healthy, long-term weight loss.
Our hormones are the masters of the ship, and communicate with all our other bodily systems and determine how fast we are able to break down food into nutrients and energy; where fat is stored, how hungry we are, how much we’re able to eat, how our efforts in the gym pay off, and this is just superficially speaking. Balancing and optimizing our hormones is SO important, and the foundation to living an incredible, vivacious life.
Key hormones to balance:
Cortisol is familiarly known as our “stress” hormone. Cortisol is actually anti-inflammatory, aids in memory formation and helps to balance blood pressure. when cortisol becomes dysregulated, due to constant chronic stressors, that’s when it causes havoc and inflammation in the body.
When the bodies in an inflammatory state, weight loss is the last thing it cares about. It’s depleting nutrients, putting us in a fight or flight response, and cortisol tends to store fat around the midsection.
Adopting stress managing lifestyle techniques, movement, meditation, breathing, journaling, etc. along with supporting the adrenals through nutrients and herbs will aid in regulating cortisol.
Insulin is usually associated with T2D, insulin enables glucose (our primary fuel source) to be taken up by our muscle and liver cells. It then gets stored as cellular energy (glycogen), with Glucagon – Insulin opposite - freeing up stored glycogen, converting it back to glucose so that its able to be utilized for energy. Ensuring we have insulin sensitivity, meaning that our body is sensitive to insulin, enables us to have optimal blood sugar levels and energy.
To decrease insulin resistance, and improve insulin sensitivity - cut way down / out on the processed, refined carbohydrates (cakes, biscuits, pastries, breads, pastas, wraps, fast food), and opt for a more higher fat, moderate protein, rich in vegetables, approach. You’ve got Paleo / Keto / WFPB style diets as a template to help you navigate the waters.
Intermittent fasting, along with regular exercise are also awesome for restoring insulin sensitivity, improving your ability to lose weight and reduce inflammation.
Ghrelin is our hunger hormone, and also regulates glucose metabolism, insulin sensitivity, and is a nutrient sensor. When we don’t listen to our internal hunger cues, and go by the clock / habit, Ghrelin can get out of whack. Eating processed, refined packaged nutrient-empty foods, such as the biscuits, white breads, crackers etc. also throws Ghrelin out of balance, as it doesn’t sense any nutrients, and so doesn’t say “hey we got what we need, you’re done eating”.
To re-establish ghrelin’s role, including periods of intermittent fasting and eating a diet based of wholefoods.
Leptin is the master controller of appetite/satiety/weight loss, and when we’re leptin resistant, there is a miscommunication between our fat cells and our hypothalamus – the control centre of the brain involved in hunger.
Leptin’s released from our fat cells, so similarly to insulin, we can become leptin resistant - creating the miscommunication between the brain and body that we’re full and not hungry. Hence why it doesn’t add up how overweight and obese people can eat so much – leptin’s message isn’t reaching the brain.
To regain leptin sensitivity, like the running theme, incorporating more periods of fasting, avoiding processed and refined carbohydrates and sugars and fast food, as these foods don’t signal satiety and just hit the pleasure centre of the brain, causing us to crave more (hence why will power is no match). Eating real whole foods triggers our nutrient sensors letting us know that we’re full, satisfied and happy.