3 Hormones That Can Make or Break Your Weight Loss Efforts

 

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Do you find yourself eating less, exercising more, and not losing a pound or an inch? If so, hormones may be to blame. Hormones are chemical messengers that are responsible for triggering or regulating bodily functions. When hormones are out of balance, negative effects within the body can result, including weight gain. Cortisol, insulin, and serotonin are just a few of the hormones that can and do play a significant role in making or breaking your weight loss efforts.

Insulin

Insulin can play a vital role in making or breaking your weight loss efforts. No matter how many calories you remove from your diet and no matter how many exercises you incorporate into your daily routine, if insulin is not stable, you may feel the need to eat more. In fact, according to Dr. Mercola, on his web site Mercola.com, explained that insulin is the central part of the weight loss equation and the reason 200 million Americans are overweight is because they have impaired insulin receptor sensitivity. An overabundance of insulin can prevent your fat-burning hormone, lipase, from releasing fat into your bloodstream to be used as fuel. So, instead of using fat for fuel, your body will use carbohydrates and amino acids from your muscles. The key to weight loss success, according to Mercola.com, is to have LOW levels of insulin so your body can produce large amounts of hormone-sensitive lipase and burn fat all day so you can look thin and slim. People with high insulin levels should also avoid overeating, especially refined carbohydrates and processed foods, and get regular exercise.

Serotonin

Serotonin is a naturally occurring neurotransmitter in the brain, which plays a vital role in whether or not your dieting efforts will succeed. Serotonin can also affect your appetite, mood, sexual arousal, perception of pain and body temperature. Consuming high carbohydrate foods will increase serotonin levels in the brain, whereas low serotonin levels will cause your body to crave carbohydrates. Furthermore, researchers at the Beth Israel Deaconess Research Center (BIDRC) found that decreased serotonin is linked to increased appetite. Therefore, weight loss can occur when you increase your serotonin levels either through diet, supplementation or both. SAM-e and 5-HTP are supplements that may be of assistance in weight loss, and it has also been used for depression. Consult with your doctor before taking these supplements, especially if you are already taking medication for depression.

Cortisol

Cortisol is known as the stress hormone, which is responsible for the flight or fight syndrome. This hormone plays a key role in metabolism, helping to determine the best source of energy – protein, carbohydrate, fat – for your body to use.  Chronic or long-term stress can increase cortisol levels and cause metabolic and hormonal imbalances that lead to weight gain. Too much cortisol not only increases your appetite and craving for unhealthy foods, but also lowers testosterone levels in women and men. Lower testosterone can mean the loss of lean muscle, causing your body to burn calories less efficiently. Remember that muscle burns more calories than body fat. To keep your cortisol levels in check and lose weight, you need to incorporate stress reduction techniques, such as meditation, yoga, and tai chi; and get regular exercise such as cycling, hiking or walking; and get at least 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep. In fact, according to Shawn Talbott, Ph.D., author of the book called “The Cortisol Connection,” says that getting just two nights of restful, sound sleep can be more effective at reducing cortisol than a lifetime of stress-management classes. And, lastly, taking certain supplements, such as DHEA, may also be helpful for lowering cortisol levels in men and women, according to a University of Pittsburgh study published in the “Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology” in February 2003.

So, as you can see, it is important to watch calories and include exercise; however, it is equally important to be aware of your hormonal balances, as well.