If your idea of losing weight is still stuck on the old-fashioned calorie control approach – think again! Or worse – if you rely on your will power – think even harder (that is an exhaustive topic in its own right)!
Weight loss science has long evolved and weight loss has become what it always should have been – a lot more than a number on your scales, for sure.
World is slowly realising that successful weight management starts from within… from nourishing your body as well as mind. By being kinder to yourself from the thoughts and beliefs you have about yourself to being kinder to your body by giving it the nourishment in the right balance so it can thrive instead of being deprived.
We are finally learning, or at least appreciate that we need to educate ourselves, about our bodies and how it functions so that we can eat for health and longevity – and weight management will sort out itself. These days, we can literally abandon the scales knowing that we are good!
Good for our body’s health and that shape is nicely coming along too.
How about that for body positivity! Loving our bodies just the way they are whilst we are building them healthier and better so this vessel can serve us well in whatever our purpose in life is – to raise a healthy, happy family or change the world – which is, kind of, the same thing, don’t you think?
By focusing on what IS – we only perpetuate its existence. Focus on health and becoming the best vision of you – you may be surprised how far THAT takes you instead of being obsesses with the number on the scales!
If you are not there yet and feel you are somehow behind this attitude towards your own health and wellness, don’t worry. It is never too late to start the journey the right way. Perhaps, keeping on reading for starters…
So, how do you get from that place of feeling heavy, lethargic, knowing you are not taking good care of yourself to actually not only losing weight, but also having energy, feeling good about yourself, having spring in your step?
The answer is as simple as – to make your wellness goals a reality – nutrition is the key and, more importantly, eating to balance your hormones related to weight management and metabolism. In the process, it is about repairing diet-related inflammation that exists in the body. Quality over quantity, right? Equally, quality of food is not measured in calories, but what it does within the body – does it feed & nourish your cells or does it damage them.
When our hormones are unbalanced – we age faster, develop disease as well as put on weight as they play a critical role in how body gets energy from the foods that we eat, which is known as metabolism.
So, let’s focus on some hormones that are specifically related to weight management – they are what we need to look at when trying to understand reasons for our hunger, cravings and, ultimately, weight gain:
LEPTIN is THE master hormone that regulates body weight. It is a hunger hormone produced by the body’s fat cells and it helps decrease our appetite. When body fat levels are low, leptin levels decrease and appetite is stimulated; when fat mass rises, the opposite occurs. Basically, after we have eaten, it tells our brain that we had enough and we are not hungry any more, we can stop eating and can get more active so we can use up the energy we have just eaten and stored. So, you can see, it is a very useful hormone and our body’s natural weight control mechanism.But, easier said than done, right?
Leptin was only discovered in 1994, however, with obesity epidemic raising since the 70s and 80s, the obvious question was – why do we continue to eat and are getting bigger? Why Leptin is not doing its job? It wasn’t until 2004 when it was discovered that the reason why Leptin was not signalling back that we are full so we can stop eating is because Leptin was being blocked in the brain!
The answer to what is blocking Leptin is the key in understanding obesity epidemic and understanding why YOU have cravings and hunger and just can not get to your weight goal or, even if you do – why it is difficult to keep the weight off!
INSULIN is the second most important hormone related to weight management. It is also the answer to what has been found to be blocking Leptin!
What this means is that we have to significantly lower insulin levels in order to manage our weight more effectively. And the main culprits that raise Insulin levels are sugar and flour. Other starchy foods like white potatoes and white rice, when eaten on its own, especially in their processed form, like crisps and cereals, will do that too.
In a nutshell, until Insulin is brought right down to the baseline levels – our brain will keep telling us we are hungry and need to eat more! This, in turn, keeps rising insulin levels, which causes insulin resistance and more insulin production. These constantly elevated insulin levels drive circulating fat into your existing fat cells and block the release of stored fat. This makes it difficult to lose weight and, not only that, it is how we develop diabetes and other inflammatory and weight related diseases.
So, the only way to prevent leptin being blocked as a result of insulin rising is to adopt clean, anti-inflammatory eating plan that will help control insulin levels at every meal and snack. This is achieved by balancing the protein-to carbohydrate ratio at each meal coupled with the use of small amounts of healthy fats known to be anti-inflammatory.
So, changing our diet is the only way to effectively manage our weight!
DOPAMINE is another hormone linked to weight management and it affects our cravings. Foods like cookies, pasta, bread, cakes, fruit juices, fizzy drinks, etc., when consumed, release dopamine in the brain and body is then very quick to respond telling us that we do not need that much dopamine, which brings it right down. Reduction in dopamine makes us lose ability to feel the same pleasure that we originally had when dopamine levels were normal. This creates a vicious cycle of us going back to those foods and feeling more and more hooked, lacking energy and even feeling depressed.
These are the signs of an addiction and it has been proven scientifically that sugar and flour are as addictive as drugs such as cocaine and heroin. There are even parallels in how they are made. They all come from natural, innocent plants (sugar from sugar cane, beets, etc.; flour from wheat, barley, etc; cocaine from coca plant; heroin from a poppy), however, when you take their inner essence, purify it and refine it into a white powder through processing – those wholesome plants are turned into drugs.
And it is the addictive pathways in the brain that are to blame for us not being able to stop eating cookies until the whole packet is gone or that makes us drive in our PJs to the petrol station at night. Sugar and flour create conditions in the brain that set us up for insatiable hunger and cravings.
But, cravings DO go away when we stop flooding the brain with dopamine and hunger is managed when we stop raising insulin levels. And knowing this is liberating as it puts us right back into the driving seat as cravings & hunger lose grip.
I will mention a couple of other hormones that are linked with weight management and metabolism:
CORTISOL can help control blood sugar levels, regulate metabolism, and help reduce inflammation, amongst many things. It has a controlling effect on salt and water balance and helps control blood pressure.
Cortisol is a hormone that the body produces under stress and can hinder our ability to lose weight. We all need some cortisol, but problems arise when its levels are elevated to extremes due to, as an example, lack of sleep, excessive exercise, fasting, inflammation, alcohol consumption, etc., as each put body under stress.
Excess insulin can increase cortisol production too. Cortisol levels naturally rise in the morning, making it essential to eat a fully balanced breakfast in the morning in oder to stop it signalling the body to break down muscle for energy. To keep cortisol under control, the solution is, no surprises there, to follow a clean, anti-inflammatory diet, eat frequently, use high levels of high quality Omega 3 supplements that has been proven to help further relieve inflammation. Also, reducing overall stress through meditation and good night’s sleep is essential too.
ADIPONECTIN is another hormone that plays a role in insulin resistance. It increases fatty acid oxidation, which improves insulin resistance, so eating diet high in Omega 3 fatty acids as well as supplementing with high quality Omega 3 has been shown to increase circulating levels of adiponectin.
So, our diet and food intake play a huge part in hormone regulation. All our hunger and cravings and, ultimately, weight gain come from the quality and balance of foods that we eat and calories, indeed, are irrelevant. Focus on calories and fad diets keep us in the vicious circle of dieting and constantly falling short on living in a body that is aligned with how we want to show up in the world – full of energy, vitality, healthy, feeling really good!
I hope information was useful and please feel free to reach out to me with your own challenges, I would love to help!
Until next time,
Yours in Health,