Weight Loss

9 Ways to Control Your Weight with Hormones

hormones

There are multiple factors that impact your weight including eating and lifestyle behaviors, genetics, environment, and most significantly, hormone production.

Hormones have significant influence over your weight due to their impact on how much fat you do or do not store and what your appetite looks like. Luckily, research has found that there are ways to influence your hormones and help control your body weight.

1.  Balance out your insulin levels and decrease insulin sensitivity.

Insulin is a hormone that gets released by your pancreas throughout the day, and especially after you eat. It plays a critical role in fat storage, communicating to the cells so that they know when to store fat and when to absorb blood sugar.

When insulin levels increase due to overeating or excessive consumption of sugar, simple carbohydrates, and processed foods, it can cause health issues that are associated with heart disease and type 2 diabetes (for example: high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol, etc.).

Don’t worry though! There are ways, backed by research, to control your insulin levels and ensure that you keep your weight down.

  • Get regular physical activity. Try walking or jogging at least 30 minutes a day.
  • Cut out or decrease the amount of sugar you consume. Too much sugar can elevate insulin levels and increase insulin resistance.
  • Decrease carbohydrates in your diet. If you want to decrease your insulin levels, eating a low-carbohydrate diet is the way to go.
  • Eat more protein. Although this can actually raise your insulin level after you consume it, it actually leads to a more long-term decrease because of it’s aid in shedding belly fat.
  • Eat more healthy fats. Omega-3s have shown to decrease insulin levels.
  • Eat more foods rich in magnesium. Some studies have found that people who are insulin resistant have decreased levels of magnesium. If you struggle getting enough of this essential vitamin in your diet, try a supplement.
  • Drink green tea. This tea has been linked to benefits such as lowering blood sugar levels and insulin levels.

2.  Decrease your production of leptin.

hunger-hormone-628x363Leptin is a type of hormone called the “satiety hormone” because it plays a key role in making you feel full after you eat. It communicates with the brain when there is enough fat storage, and producing that “I’ve had enough” feeling.

People who are overweight often have increased levels of leptin, sometimes up to 4 times the amount of those in people with normal weight.

How can you make sure that these levels stay low? Try these tips:

  • Get regular physical activity. Try walking or jogging at least 30 minutes a day.
  • Cut out or decrease foods that cause inflammation. Drinks high in sugar (such as soda) and foods with trans fats all increase inflammation.
  • Eat more anti-inflammatory foods. Fatty fish is a great anti-inflammatory.
  • Sleep more. Cutting into your sleep time can actually decrease your levels of leptin and make you hungrier.
  • Take supplements. Supplements like fish oil and alpha-lipoic can help you lose more weight and might decrease your leptin levels.

3.  Increase your ghrelin levels.

They call this one the “hunger hormone” because it does just that — it tells you when you’re hungry.

These levels are higher right before you eat and then decrease around an hour after you’ve eaten. That is, unless you’re overweight. Studies have found lower levels of ghrelin in people who are overweight and obese so immediately following their meal, levels drop only slightly, making people feel hungrier for longer.

To decrease your ghrelin levels try to:

  • Avoid sugar. Sugars like high-fructose corn syrup and high sugary drinks can hinder the ghrelin response after meals.
  • Eat more protein. Protein consumption can significantly decrease ghrelin levels and help you feel more satisfied after eating.

4.  Reduce your cortisol levels.

Often known as the “stress hormone,” high levels of cortisol have been linked to obesity and excess belly fat.

Stress

To decrease cortisol levels:

  • Practice meditation and listen to soothing music. Both of these activities can increase relaxation and lower cortisol levels or keep them from rising too much.
  • Eat a balanced diet. Getting the nutrients you need and being sure to consume an adequate amount of calories will lower your levels.
  • Sleep more. Cutting into your sleep time can increase your cortisol levels by up to 50% to 80%.

5.  Maintain estrogen levels.

Both estrogen levels that are too high and too low can contribute to weight gain.

In studies with obese women, researchers found that estrogen levels were particularly higher. Similarly, when estrogen levels drop during menopause fat storage shifts to the belly which promotes insulin resistance.

To manage your estrogen levels try doing the following:

  • Change your diet. Eat more fibrous foods, flax seeds, and cruciferous veggies (like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, etc.). All help estrogen levels.
  • Get regular physical activity. Try walking or jogging at least 30 minutes a day.

6.  Decrease your neuropeptide Y (NPY) levels.

NPY plays a role in appetite stimulation and is essential for times of fasting or when food is scarce. Levels of this hormone also increase during times of stress.

indexWhile this hormone is particularly helpful for telling your body “eat more carbs, food is limited” during times of food deprivation, it’s not so great for your waistline.

To lower your NPY levels try to:

  • Eat more protein. Not getting enough protein might be signaling to your body that food is limited, making you hungrier, so you eat more, so you gain weight.
  • Make sure you’re not fasting too long. While intermittent fasting has proven to have multiple benefits, there’s also research out there that suggests if you push it past the 24-hour mark you could actually be increasing you NPY levels.
  • Eat more fiber. Getting more fiber feeds that good bacteria in your gut and decreases your NPY levels.

7.  Increase glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1)

This hormone is key in stabilizing your blood sugar levels. A low level of GLP-1 can leave you feeling hungrier.

To increase GLP-1:

  • Change your diet. Eating more protein (found in foods like fish and yogurt), anti-inflammatory foods (e.g., fatty fish), and leafy greens (e.g., kale and spinach) has all shown to increase GLP-1 levels.
  • Take a probiotic supplement.

8.  Increase your levels of cholecystokinin (CKK).

As another “satiety hormone,” higher levels of this are linked to a reduction in food intake.

To increase your levels of CKK try consuming more protein, healthy fats, and fiber with your meals.

9.  Increase peptide YY (PYY) levels.

imagesLast but least, this is another hormone that controls your appetite — telling you when you’re full or not. Higher levels of this will help lower the amount of food you consume and can help you lower risk for obesity.

Increase your PYY levels through a diet high in protein and fiber and low in carbohydrates.

Additional Tips

Overall, you might have noticed some similarities in these tips to increase or lower certain hormones. If you’re concerned about whether you’re getting the right amount of nutrients you need, consider speaking with a dietician to come up with a meal plan that fits your needs.

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