Hormones and Weight Loss

Some people hear the word “hormones” and they think cravings, weight gain, mood fluctuations, bloating, fatigue, anxiety, low sex drive and more!  Hormones! But it does not have to be that way.  Hormones are responsible for many other changes in the female body. For some women, it’s smooth sailing, but for many others, it’s plain turmoil every month.  Many factors can put your hormones into a tailspin and disrupt your hormonal balance: poor diet, depression, stress, anxiety, lack of exercise and other environmental factors. So there are plenty of opportunities for your  hormones to be topsy-turvy.

Changing hormones later in life often leads to weight gain, and specifically increased inches around the waist. Hormonal changes  influence weight gain as well as the distribution of fat. Fewer estrogen hormones leads to you retaining more fat cells.

hormonesHormones do play important roles in our metabolism and overall well being.  Well balanced hormones are necessary to maintain a healthy body weight for men and women.   Balanced hormones can also help reduce cravings which leads to a more balanced diet. Eating at times when you are struggling with food cravings is certain to have disasterous results for your waistline.

It is possible to control your hormones with simple changes. A very important factor you may possibly not be aware of is that you can help your hormones work for you. Lena Edwards, M .D. director of the Balance Health and Wellness Centre in Lexington, Kentucky stated that “People possess much more control over their bodily hormones than they believe that they do“. These ideas and strategies will assist you to gain control over some of important hormones in your body.


Among the numerous hormones produced by the body’s fat cells is leptin. Animal studies show that low leptin levels encourage overfeeding and suppress energy expenditure, thyroid and reproductive hormones, and immunity.  (1)   Leptin’s job is to control the body’s craving for food. Studies show that unwanted body fat can result in a medical condition called leptin resistance, which simply means the inability of the hormone to affect the brain despite the fact that the body possesses greater amounts of it. Although it is still unclear at this time the reason why this happens, one school of thought states that “as fat cells produce inflammatory substances that obstruct the effects of leptin, the body starts to believe it is actually famished.” Though this isn’t true, the metabolic process decelerates and the brain continually communicates hunger alerts to encourage you to continue eating, and unfortunately often  foods with high-calories.

Striking A Balance

The fact that leptin resistance can actually be checkmated by simply eating right and engaging in regular workout sessions is good news. Consuming at least one glass of juiced greens or vegetables every morning daily is another way of reducing this leptin resistance. Scott Isaacs, M.D., an endocrinologist in Atlanta, has discovered that people who practice the above are much less hungry later in the day. In addition, together with satiating fiber, vegetables have significant anti-oxidants and also vitamins which have been proved to decrease the swelling that interferes with leptin action, which then assists in boosting fat burning and also decreases appetite.

[tweetthis]Of course, eat wisely, always![/tweetthis]

Cortisol And Serotonin

man-olderEver wonder why after a stressful day it is so easy to head to the snack stand to grab a sugary treat and a cold bottle of soft drink? It is the way the adrenal glands responds to remove the stress hormone called cortisol. This reaction, that is designed to provide you with a dose of vitality for fighting or running, might remain elevated due to longer periods of stress, making you hungry for high-carb foods or sugary products. There are many studies that show that cortisol can cause the body to accumulate additional fat deposits, especially in the tummy area.

Serotonin possesses the reverse effect: it is a natural hunger suppressant and it also works to calm the body.

Striking A Balance

To achieve similar results without medication or sugary products, eat a lot of folate-rich lentils, spinach and even asparagus because the brain makes use of the vitamins B in these foods to generate serotonin. Sleeping well is also a good means too; a report in the Journal of Clinical Neurology discovered that cortisol level can rise up to double when the body is kept awake through just one night.

Other ways to increase serotonin is to give yourself more bright light. Try and get outside more.  Additional exercise also helps in many ways. “Interestingly, drugs like Prozac take a few weeks to have an effect on depressive symptoms, while exercise has an almost immediate effect”, according to Barry Jacobs from Princeton University. (2)  If you feel a craving, try and go for a walk or do some stretching.


20150809_134815Each time you consume a high-carb food or even sugary beverages that causes the blood sugar level to increase, the body reacts by sending out insulin, whose mission is to collect the extra glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream. Now eat a lot of bread, pasta, or even candy or sweets and the insulin might cause those extra calories to be gathered together and stored as fat. In some instances, extra weight can result in insulin resistance, a medical condition in which body cells grow to be considerably less responsive to the hormone.

Striking A Balance

It is possible to manage the quantity of insulin the body secretes and also manage exactly how the body cells react to it by reducing the intake of food products that bring about the largest increase in blood sugar. Many clinical trials have shown that there is a direct link between sugar-sweetened soft drink consumption and weight gain. (3) Therefore, reducing their intake is of great benefit.

Another way is to replace refined and processed foods rich in carbohydrates such as bread and pasta with their whole-grain variants that contain fiber to reduce the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream and result in a more effective insulin response. Eating smaller portions of food at shorter time intervals all through the day is another means of ensuring consistent levels of insulin and glucose.

And of course, eat wisely, always. Sweets and simple carbs quickly raise blood sugar, flood you with insulin and you drop. Watch the caffeine too.


Not too long ago, a research in the journal Nature revealed the finding of a method to make white fat—the type everyone knows and also hate—behave similar to brown fat, a type that truly burns calories. The exposure to a recently found hormone named irisin is the key. This hormone is secreted by muscle tissue and is excreted while working out. Irisin also helps the body in reducing insulin resistance.(4)

Striking A Balance

Engaging in proper and regular workout sessions is one of the best ways of increasing irisin level, which then generates more fat-burning brown fat. In a recent study, irisin levels doubled after a 10-week stationary-bike riding program involving four or five 20-30 minutes periods per week. (5)

Another, not so noticeable, technique for boosting irisin is to manipulate the body thermostat. Actually, lower temperature ranges makes the body’s white fat behave like brown fat, thus adjusting the body’s metabolic process adequately to force weight loss.

Another research discovered that after people stayed two hours in a 64°F room and routinely dipped their legs into ice water, their brown fat burned about 15 times more calories compared to when they were at room temperature. At this rate, it can burn up to 9 pounds in a year! Not a choice way to burn fat, but certainly include regular exercise in your daily regime.


(1) Revisiting leptin’s role in obesity and weight loss.  Rexford S. Ahima  www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2430504/

(2) psych.princeton.edu/psychology/research/jacobs/case.php

(3) Soft Drinks and Weight Gain: How Strong Is the Link?  Emily Wolff, MPH and Michael L. Dansinger, MD, MS.   www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2562148/

(4) Irisin, a Novel Myokine, Regulates Glucose Uptake in Skeletal Muscle Cells via AMPK.

(5) www.health.harvard.edu/blog/natural-exercise-hormone-transforms-fat-cells-201206054851



Dr. Patrick Quillin

Dr. Patrick Quillin, PhD,RD,CNS is an internationally recognized expert in the area of nutrition and health. He has 30 years experience as a clinical nutritionist, of which 10 years were spent as the Vice President for a leading cancer hospital system where he worked with thousands of cancer patients in a hospital setting. He is a Best Selling Author with 18 books which have sold over 2,000,000 copies and also a Keynote Speaker.

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