By Dr. Keara Taylor, ND
Weight gain can be the result of a variety of factors. The foods that we consume and the amount that we move our bodies impacts the capacity of our body to burn or store energy. However, this is only part of the picture!
An incredibly important piece of the weight loss puzzle that is often overlooked is hormonal health. There are a few key hormones that are important to get into balance to support your weight loss goals. Here are three key hormones that we want to consider when it comes to weight management, as well as a few tips on how to balance them!
Insulin – Insulin is secreted when we eat sugar and carbohydrates, which break down to glucose. It responds to the increase of blood glucose and encourages cells to uptake the glucose to be utilized. If it doesn’t get used as energy, it is stored as glycogen and fat.
Tips to balance insulin: Aim to reduce the amount of sugars and refined carbohydrates that you consume. Include protein and fat with your meals, as this will reduce the spike in insulin secreted. Finally – move! Exercise helps our cells to respond to insulin, so include as much movement in your day as possible – go for a walk around the block after your meals, take the stairs, just get the movement in wherever you can!
Cortisol – Cortisol is one of our stress hormones. It is released when we are under long term, chronic stress, and is known to affect both the use of energy in the body as well as our appetite. High levels of cortisol have been linked to abdominal obesity, or fat around the midsection.
Tips to balance cortisol: Find pockets of your day to relax into your parasympathetic or ‘rest and digest’ part of your nervous system. This will calm down the stress response and help to activate the body’s relaxation pathways. A great way to do this is to take 3 long, deep breaths before your meals, and before you go to bed.
Thyroid – Our thyroid hormones control our metabolism and energy expenditure from a cellular perspective. These hormones are also responsible for our heart rate, perspiration, and so many other processes in our body.
Tips to support your thyroid hormones: Nutrients are really important for the optimal production of our thyroid hormones. Eating a varied diet is key, and some specific foods include brazil nuts, which contain selenium (just 3 a day gets you a good dose!) and pumpkin seeds, which contain zinc.
Weight gain can be incredibly frustrating, especially if you don’t understand why it is happening. As I mentioned in the beginning, it is usually the result of a number of factors, which can be both physical and emotional in nature. Looking at balancing these three important hormones through the tips provided can be a great starting place. I would also encourage you to work with a health care practitioner well versed in hormones to understand how these hormones (and many more!) are affecting your symptoms and weight management goals!