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How Hormones Affect Weight Loss. Podcast Episode 49.

If it feels like you’re doing “everything right” and not losing weight, your hormones might be to blame.

Today we’re talking all things “hormones and weight loss”. 5 big hormones affect our weight: insulin, cortisol, grehlin, leptin and melatonin. We’ll be chatting about how imbalances to these hormones affect weight gain. And what to do prevent or correct the imbalances imbalances.

Lisa Hisscock Health and Fitness Coach

Today’s guest Lisa Hisscock is a Behaviour Change Specialist. She is a Certified Health and Fitness Coach. Her company More Than A Body helps mid lifers to reclaim their bodies and energy for the next half of their life.

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Lisa’s Message

If you feel like you don't have any willpower to make changes, you might be looking at a hormonal imbalance. Stop blaming yourself and start working with your body instead of against it.

Take care of your hormones and you’ll be able to achieve healthy and happy.

What we’re Talking About in this Episode

  • How hormones affect weight gain and loss.
  • Why reducing your stress hormone cortisol will help you lose weight.
  • How your behaviour can affect your hunger hormones, grhelin and leptin.
  • How sleep deprivation affect weight and how the hormone melatonin affects sleep.

The 5 Hormones That Affect Weight Gain and Weight Loss

1. Cortisol. Our stress hormone.

2. Insulin. (We’re not specifically talking about insulin today.)

3. Ghrelin. Our hunger hormone.

4. Leptin. Our satiety or “feeling full” hormone

5. Melatonin. The hormone that signals to our body to go to sleep.

1. How Stress affects Hormones and Weight Gain

Scientists used to think the only way to raise insulin was eating sugar and carbohydrates. We now know high cortisol levels also raise blood sugar levels. (Especially when you’re chronically stressed).

High blood sugar levels will cause a rise in insulin.

If you're trying to control weight and health, you don’t want elevated insulin levels.

Related: Find out more about insulin in "3 Easy Nutritional Steps to Weight Loss podcast".

Related: Diabetes and prediabetes podcast.

When you’re stressed another hormone called ghrelin will rise. Grehlin tells us we’re hungry. Too much grhelin and we want to eat more!

Yet another hormone called leptin will fall. Leptin tells us we’re full and it’s time to stop eating. Too little leptin and we don’t stop eating. Result? We consume more.

What about the Sleep Hormone Melatonin and Stress?

When we’re sleep deprived, we’re more likely to eat more. (As well as be tired, grumpy and generally not feel great!)

If we don’t have enough melatonin, we find it difficult to sleep. Result? We eat more that we would if our melatonin levels were normal.

Related: Everything You Need to know about Sleep podcast.

Related: Everything you need to know about the Menopause podcast.

When we’re Stressed our bodies want Glucose

Stress puts our body into action mode. We’re getting ready to fight or run away. We needs energy.

Queue massive signals that tell us to eat foods that will give us quick release glucose.

As you can see, when our hormones get out of whack, it’s a bit of a mess. Our hunger signals aren’t working properly resulting in us eating more than we need.

How can we reverse this mess and get our hormones back to helping us?

Stress Reducing Practices and Balancing Your Cortisol Levels

Stress reducing practices will reduce your cortisol levels.

There are many different ways to reduce stress. You want to find one that works for you. That you enjoy and can stick to.

Relaxation techniques include:

  • Meditation
  • Prayer
  • Journaling
  • Gratitude
  • Epsom salts bath to calm down your system
  • Going for a walk in nature

Choose one or two of these and practice it daily. Do whatever it is that allows you to breathe, and just be in your own thoughts.

Address Chronic Underlying Stressors that Affect our Weight and Health

Many of us have stressors in our life that we ignore. These stressors affect our health. Stressors may include over scheduling or your daily commute. Some of these things you can’t change. But you need to find a strategy to deal with them.

Lisa uses the acronym “E.A.T your Stress”.

1. Eliminate Your Stress

First identify things that frequently stress you out. Can you eliminate it? Or get someone else to deal with it?

2. Accept Your Stress

Some things such as sitting in traffic every day we just have to accept. Research shows the act of accepting can reduce cortisol levels.

3. Tackle Your Stress

How you can rearrange this stressor? You need to “tackle” it.

A Good Night’s Sleep Can Help You Lose Weight

As we’ve seen, sleep deprivation can affect your hunger hormones. Make sure you get enough sleep each night and you can reset your hunger hormones.

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Healthy Eating Can Reset our Hunger Hormones

Refined carbohydrates affect our bodies in many ways. They give us a quick surge of glucose. We get used to that quick release glucose. (If we don’t give our bodies quick release glucose, it will start to look for it internally. We have lots of stores of energy to prevent us from keeling over when we skip a meal or snack.)

Unlike fibrous vegetables, refined carbohydrates don’t signal to us that we’re full.

Fats do tell us we’re full. Making sure we have some fats in our diet helps us to feel full up. I recommend extra virgin olive oil.

Eating a healthy balanced diet, high in vegetables and low in refined carbohydrates can help to reset our hunger hormones.

Related: The Health Benefits of the Med Style Diet podcast.

Related: The Health Benefits of Extra Virgin Olive Oil podcast.

Reduce Stress and Increase Exercise to Reset Hunger Hormones

Exercise can help us reduce stress. Exercise can also help us to lose weight.

How Sleep and Melatonin Affect Weight

Melatonin signals to our bodies that it’s time to go to sleep. Our melatonin levels are low in the morning and rise during the day.

Artificial lights affect our melatonin levels, making it difficult for us to go to sleep.

These are some things you can do to ensure that you have high levels of melatonin at night:

  • Use red lightbulbs in your house.
  • Wear blue light blocking glasses. (Artificial lights give off a blue hue that affects our melatonin levels).
  • Set your iPhone or smartphone to night time viewing.
  • Use light blocking curtains so your room is completely dark.
  • Limit caffeine (especially later on in the day.)
  • Make sure the temperature in your room is cool (around 15.5 - 18 ˚C).
  • Relax in the bath with Epsom salt. (The bath will help core your body temperature and the epsom salts will give you some magnesium. Both are good for sleep.)

How To Reset Hormonal Imbalances to Lose Weight

There is good news! All the things we’ve been talking about are the “4 pillars of health” that I’m always talking about.

  1. Nutrition.
  2. Exercise.
  3. Sleep.
  4. Stress and emotional wellbeing.

Pay attention to the four pillars and your hormones will naturally reset themselves, helping you to lose weight!

Connect with Lisa Hissock

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Author Bio

Dr Orlena is a health coach. She helps busy mums go from "I can't lose weight" to feeling fit and fabulous. Find out more about her here.


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