10 Steps to Balance Hormones Naturally to Lose Weight & Transform Your Life (part 3-3)
Do any of these sound like you? Rapid weight gain, bloating, puffiness, low libido, can’t lose weight, moody, irritable, depressed, low self-confidence, fatigued, tired, need caffeine, brain fog, acne, skin rash, brittle hair and nails. These are just a few signs and symptoms that something is going on inside the body. The cause of it all- an imbalance of hormones. I’m wrapping up this 3 part series by outlining how to balance your hormones naturally to finally lose weight and transform your life.
In part 1, I discussed why the typical calories in versus calories out method is not in fact the key to weight loss, as well as how under-eating and overtraining causes weight gain and weight loss resistance. In part 2, I outlined how to calculate the amount of food you should be eating, as well as the best food and exercise for you based on body type.
To bring it all full circle, I’ve dedicated part 3 to providing information on how to balance your hormones naturally to finally break through the plateau and lose weight, gain self-confidence, relieve pain or fatigue, and ultimately, feel amazing. A lot this information is what I educate people on in private consults. However, I truly believe the Lord put me on this earth to coach and educate others about how to improve their health and wellbeing, so it is my honor and privilege to serve each of you with every bit of knowledge and information and provide information for free to to help you heal.
It’s All About Hormones
Hormones are your body’s chemical messengers that affect processes such as metabolism, sexual function, reproduction, mood, etc. I’ve come across plenty of clients that improved diet and started exercising, yet still unable to lose weight, improve their food or change their health markers. I have learned in my years of studying nutrition that the underlying cause is almost always, yep you guessed it, hormones. The hormones that go out of balance most often include thyroid, estrogen, progesterone and testosterone.
Thyroid - every cell of your body needs thyroid hormones to function at its fullest capacity; most thyroid problems will most show up on standard blood work.
Estrogen - the female hormone that gives women breasts and hips and keeps joints lubricated; men have it too, although at far lower levels; estrogen dominance is the main reason women have a harder time losing weight regardless of age, when compared with men.
Progesterone - helps to balance and neutralize the effects of excess estrogen. To balance to the estrogen/progesterone ratio, I I highly recommend seed cycling.
Testosterone - the male hormone that gives men muscles; women have it too at lower levels (unless PCOS is a concern); low testosterone in women has been linked to multiple problems.
The 7 Hormones of Metabolism
Growth hormone - Growth hormone (GH) aids in muscle synthesis and repair, boosts energy and improves fat metabolism.
Adiponectin - Adiponectin is one of the chemical messengers that regulates inflammation, oxidative stress, and fat oxidation (breakdown).
Cortisol - Cortisol, when chronically elevated, stores fat and breaks down muscle.
Insulin - Storgage hormone that responds to blood sugar. Stores fat for energy.
Glucagon - Glucagon does the opposite of insulin. This hormone releases fat from your fat cells to burn for energy.
Leptin - Leptin is your satiety hormone. You want leptin circulating for fat loss, but you must also get the message from the brain to burn fat, which requires balancing the other hormones.
Ghrelin - Grehlin is the opposite of leptin, singling hunger signals. One bad night of sleep can increase ghrelin levels.
Each of these hormones effect our metabolism, mood, energy and ability to lose or gain weight. Mind Body Green relays how, “many people have been taught that hormone balance always requires pills, injections or creams, but it's possible that all you need is a change in the way you live. Food, lifestyle and stress management are of utmost importance.” So how do we balance them? Let’s take a look!
10 Steps to Balance Your Hormones Naturally
Detoxing is a natural process that our bodies go through each and every day. Unfortunately, we have inundated our body and liver with so many processed foods, toxins and chemicals that our body does not detox as it should.
Everyone should detox. I find it beneficial to do 4 detoxes a year, 1 every season, and support the body’s natural detox abilities every day with whole foods, liver support, and the removal of chemical toxins. The type and duration of your detox will depend on the current signs and symptoms you are exhibiting, something I assess with each of my clients in a test and questionnaire.
If you can put a check mark to at least 3 of the symptoms below, it is time to detox!
Cravings (sugar, carbs, candy, etc.)
Bloating and gas
Bad breath or foul smelling body odor
Joint pain or joint stiffness
Fatigue or feeling run down
Dry or brittle hair, skin or nails
Depression, mood swings or PMS
Less than 1-2 bowel movements per day
Brain fog or inability to concentrate
Weakened immunity and frequent colds
Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
Important! Before starting any detoxification protocol, you must address the foundations first. Check out Thinking of Detoxing? Make Sure You Address 5 Things First for more information.
To help your body detoxify better every day you should aim to:
Consume 6-8 serving of veggies every day, preferably the green, cruciferous vegetables
Drink 1/2 your body weight in ounces of filtered water per day; I use this filter and this water bottle because they remove pathogens and heavy metals that sneak into normal bottled waters and refrigerator filters
Aim for ~30-45 grams of fiber each day. Why fiber? Fiber helps break down and remove estrogen from the body. Without fiber, estrogen will recirculate in the body. Good sources of fiber include veggies, oats and fruit. To get enough fiber, I personally use and recommend this fiber supplement.
Seed Cycle - I wrote a whole blog post on how to seed cycle and its benefits here.
2. Reduce Stress
Stress inhibits our bodies ability to detox and balance hormones by hindering our organs and systems. Diseases are directly related to our mental state. Vise versa, laughter and happy thoughts lead to wellness. To balance hormones, you should try deep breathing. Breathing properly is such a powerful tool for releasing stress-reducing hormones.
One of our stress response hormones, cortisol, is often termed as our "fight or flight" hormone. One of the best ways to manage cortisol is through stress management by doing something you enjoy and that brings you peace of mind: cooking or baking, walking in nature, gardening, journaling, reading, listening to music, taking a bubble bath, or getting a massage to name a few.
Is your cortisol out of wack? Here are some signs and symptoms to look out for:
Unintentional weight gain/ can not lose weight
Headache or backache
Not sleeping well
Feel groggy in the morning and wired at night
Diarrhea, constipation, bloating or heart burn
Low sex drive
Catch colds or other infections easily
Unable to recover from workouts
To reset your cortisol: take 1mg melatonin (my favorite brand) every waking hour for 7 days. For example, take 1mg melatonin at 8:00am (or whenever you wake up) and every hour on the hour after that, so 9:00am, 10:00am, 11:00am, etc. until you fall asleep that evening. This method was created by Dr. Rakowski, an amazing doctor.
3. Practice 12-Hour Fasting (Not the Suggested 16)
Intermittent Fasting is the buzz word these days. Unfortunately, these extended fasts that go beyond 12 hours are creating some serious health problems and hormone imbalances. For the majority of people, fasting beyond 12 hours increases cortisol, the stress hormone we talked about earlier. If you are in a stressful situation, your body will shut down your sex drive and fat burning hormones to produce cortisol to manage the stress. A 16 hour fast over time is stressful, even if you do not perceive the stress externally.
As a result, the stress response will lower the thyroid and aggravate the adrenals. Instead, try to do a 12 hour fast, which might look like this: finishing your last meal by 8:00 pm and consuming breakfast at 8:00 am the next morning. You can follow any 12-hour time frame that fits your schedule, but try to have your last meal 2-3 hours before bed to allow for adequate digestion.
4. Stabilize Blood Sugar
Blood sugar, blood sugar, blood sugar! Do you wake up in the middle of the night? Do you crash mid-day? Do you get shaky after meals? Do you feel hangry (hungry and angry) if you do not have food? These are some common questions you might find in the Nutritional Assessment Questionnaire (NAQ) that I and other Nutritional Therapy Practitioners use with clients to assess blood sugar, one of the foundations for health.
Do you know that you can not burn body fat when your glucose is too high? To test this, I highly recommend testing your blood sugar with this glucometer (pictured). To burn body fat, your blood sugar level should be between 70-95 mg/dL. If it is not, you must must must address balancing your blood sugar! Your fasting blood sugar level should be less than 100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L), and ideally below 95 mg/dL. A fasting blood sugar level from 100 to 125 mg/dL (5.6 to 6.9 mmol/L) is considered prediabetes. A fasting blood sugar level of 126 mg/dL (7 mmol/L) or higher on two separate tests indicates that you have diabetes.
You should also use the glucometer (if unavailable, this one is my next best pick) to test your blood sugar before meals and 2-3 hours following a meal. Ideally, your blood sugar should measure in the 70-95 mg/dL. If not, you must work on balancing blood sugar. Additionally, when blood sugar is not in the range, you will not tap into fat stores. Although people advocate for multiple meals a day, this way of eating never allows the blood sugar to fall into the “fat burning” range of 70-95 mg/dL. There are exceptions to every rule, and those with disease, adrenal problems or hypoglycemia should aim to eat more often until they bring their body back into balance.
Did you know you burn the most body fat when your body is in a parasympathetic state, at rest. This is why sleep is so important! If you’re waking up multiple times throughout the night from a blood sugar imbalance, you are missing an opportunity to burn body fat throughout the night. For more info on how to eat to balance blood sugar, check out part 2.
5. Strength Train 2-3x Week
To regulate your sex hormones and increase insulin sensitivity, you should incorporate strength training. Low testosterone and high estrogen can cause symptoms such as low energy, mood changes, low sex drive, and more. Strength training stimulates the release of human growth hormone, HGH, a hormone that aids in building muscle and burning fat. HGH also increases insulin sensitivity, which helps control blood sugar and regulate testosterone and estrogen.
When heavy weights are lifted the body responds with increase in the growth hormone levels in order to start the anabolic process of regenerating the muscle tissue. As already mentioned this increase also leads to higher usage of fat for energy after the training session. -Sakazova
ND Natasha Turner also suggest that, “Just 30 minutes of circuit training can produce enough stimulus to burn fat, build muscle and balance hormones.” Females, we do not have enough testosterone to “bulk up”, so lift weights and strength train 2-3x a week to balance hormones, boost mood, sleep better and lose fat.
6. Decrease Inflammatory Foods
Inflammation makes health conditions worse, including hormonal imbalances, mental disorders and bone loss. For many people, foods like processed dairy, gluten, alcohol, sugar, processed snacks, omega-6 refined oils, and soy can increase inflammation and cause hormone imbalance. Additionally, various food sensitivities and inflammatory foods can lead to leaky gut and inflammation, throwing hormones out of balance even more.
For chronic inflammation, I recommend following an anti-inflammatory diet or elimination diet. If autoimmunity is a cancer, you might consider the Autoimmune Paleo Diet (AIP, which include the elimination of lesser known food irritants such as nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, white potatoes, peppers, and aubergines and respective nightshade spices), coffee, chocolate, nuts, seeds and more. For more information on AIP, check out the following posts: What is The Paleo Autoimmune Protocol and The AIP Survival Guide.
If you are local, I offer a food sensitivity testing as a service, where I am able to test which foods bring your body into allergic tension. To set up an appointment, simply email via my contact page.
7. Increase Anti-Inflammatory Whole Foods
The key component to reducing inflammation is by nourishing your body with anti-inflammatory, nutrient dense, properly prepared whole foods. So many people are worried about just the macronutrients, but this fails to account for critical micronutrients, as well as the preparation of the food. The best anti-inflammatory foods are your fruits and vegetables and Omega-3 sources of fat. Aim to eat a bunch of anti-inflammatory foods every single day!
Some benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids include but are not limited too: decreasing your chance of heart attack or stroke, improving brain function, reducing the chance of kidney disease, alleviating pain and stiffness, improving mood quality, and lessening the chance of mood disorders such as ADD and ADHD. Some of the best sources of Omega-3 fats:
Wild-Caught, Low-Mercury Seafood (Mackerel, Salmon, Trout, Sardines, Herring, White Fish, Anchovies) - from Vital Choice
Cod Liver Oil
Organic Chia Seeds
Pasture-raised Egg Yolks
Organic Flax Seeds
Properly prepared foods is something that most people are not educated on. A few things to keep in mind are not overcooking your food or using high heat temperatures unless searing (you can cook out all the good nutrients from high temperatures and cooking the food too long), cooking with the right oils (you should only cook with high-heat stable oils like grass-fed butter, avocado oil and coconut oil; do NOT heat olive oil… cooking with olive oil or other low-heat stable oils can create free radicals).
8. Remove Xenoestrogens + Endocrine Disruptors
Beyond diet, you want to minimize environmental toxins to be able to support your body’s natural elimination pathways. One way to do this is by removing sources of xenoestrogens. Xenoestrogens are chemicals found in plastics, makeup, cleaning products, nonstick cookware, the birth control pill and more that mimic the actions of estrogen in the body. Some signs of estrogen dominance include:
Weight gain around butt, hips and thighs
Bloating and/or fluid retention
Moodiness, depression and anxiety
Low or non-existent libido
If you are unsure if a product is toxic or unsafe, check the label for ingredients like fragrance (a huge no-no) and use resources such as the EWG Skin Deep Database, where you can search some of following: shampoo, laundry detergent, dishwashing soap, cleansers and cleaners, cosmetics, deodorants, toothpaste, shaving gel, and lotions and get the product toxicity score. Don’t be surprised when your “natural” face wash has a toxicity score through the roof. Thank you FDA…
Also, do not feel like you have to remove everything at once. Think, one thing at time. I always tell people to just swap things out as they run out. I wrote a personal post on why and how I switched over to safe products here and the amazing response from it.
9. Avoid Overeating
Inundating your body with too much food, even if it is healthy food, does not allow the body to rest. It takes energy to digest meals, so if the body is always wasting energy on digesting, it will not have the ability to filter out toxins or modulate other tasks. In other words, there is no space for house-keeping. Balancing your food intake is imperative to a healthier metabolism and a balance of hormones.
10. Stop Guessing & Run Tests
If you’ve been suffering for awhile, there are things you can do to put the suffering to an end. I’d be more than happy to discuss your current signs and symptoms to recommend the best testing or lab options. If you have good insurance, I would highly recommend ordering the following tests, as these will help provide the full picture of what might be going on:
Comprehensive Metabolic Panel – provides an overall picture of your body’s chemical balance and metabolism
Lipid Panel - Total cholesterol, HDL and LDL, Triglycerides
Thyroid Panel – helps evaluate thyroid gland function and diagnose thyroid disorders
After you receive your blood work, we can set up a consult via in person or Skype to go over it. Nowadays, lab ranges are so far from optimal that your test might reflect “in range” even though you still feel terrible. I can break it down for you and offer nutritional support and guidance
Comprehensive Testing for Special Cases
For advanced hormone testing, I recommend ZRT Labratories (even more so than the Dutch test)!! I will need to order the lab for you.
For those with chronic illness and digestive problems, such as a suspected parasite or H. Pylori, SIBO, Candida, autoimmune disease, IBD/IBS, inflammation, food sensitivities, or skin condition, I recommend Dr. Stephen Cabral’s Comprehensive 3-day Stool Test.
Any fad diet can help you lose weight for a short period of time, but only a true wellness system can help you keep it off for good. -Dr. Cabral
Your body is a vessel. You only have one, and it is the body God created specifically for you! Diseases and dis-eases are robbing so many people of reaching their fullest potential. The health care industry is not helping, so sometimes we must each take control of our own health and body! For questions, comments, concerns or more help, please reach out via my contact page and I will be in touch <3