3 Tips to Hack your Hormones to Support Your Weight Loss Goals
By: Jillian Genovese MS, RD, founder of A Full Plate Nutrition, Inc.
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Too often I see and hear of women hitting wall after wall in their effort to lose weight. This is usually a result of the traditional dieting approach: eat less, do more. The problem with this is that it does not consider hormones. In fact, more often than not, the “eat less, do more” approach exacerbates hormonal imbalances and can slow or halt progress altogether.
Women’s health is different. It just is. Hormones play a major role in our well-being and ignoring or overlooking their impact can be a major reason why your efforts are not measuring up to your goals. And- I’m not just talking about our female sex hormones. I’m talking thyroid hormones, hunger hormones, cortisol (a steroid hormone from the adrenal glands), sleep hormones, and blood sugar regulators like insulin. These are all things the traditional, old-school, diet mentality just simply does not consider. When it comes to women, a holistic approach that works toward full-body wellness is the key to finally getting the needle to move and achieving sustainable results.
While everyone has unique needs when it comes to nutrition and lifestyle, there are a few things every woman can do to support their health and weight loss goals:
#1: Balance your blood sugars.
Making simple and strategic diet changes that support balanced blood sugar levels throughout the day is one of the first things I work on with my clients and is the foundation to The Full Plate Program. Eating in a pattern that reduces blood sugar spikes and crashes helps to get cravings and appetite under control. When we eat unbalanced meals that spike our sugars too high, a subsequent crash is inevitable, leading to carb cravings, sugar cravings, and insatiable appetites- a triple threat when it comes to staying on track.
Erratic blood sugars also tax the thyroid, increase cortisol production, and can cause imbalances between estrogen and progesterone. When the thyroid is taxed, our metabolism can slow. When we have an overproduction of cortisol, we are more vulnerable to fat storage or stubborn weight loss. When we have imbalances between estrogen and progesterone, we can hold on-to water weight, body fat, and get that overall “puffy” feeling or look.
Though there are targeted recommendations for each individual, the first step you can take toward managing your blood sugars is to include protein and fiber in every meal and snack. Is a fruit cup or muffin your go-to in the morning? Pair it with a protein like Greek yogurt to buffer your sugars from spiking too high.
#2: Prioritize protein.
It is not uncommon for women to be undereating protein. Especially as we age. Fun fact: we can lose as much as 8% of our lean body mass every decade after 30. YIKES! This is biiiiigggg nono. We do NOT want to lose muscle. Muscle keeps our metabolism strong and healthy, it protects our bones, and keeps us looking tight and lean. Protein is key to maintaining your lean muscle but activating those muscles through strength exercises is also crucial! So, keep up with your Pilates and weight work-outs ladies!
Protein is also important because it contains essential amino acids that are required by the body for hormone production and metabolism. If we are not properly producing or metabolizing our hormones, that means we are not hormonally efficient. Not enough protein can slow our thyroid. It can also lead to out of whack estrogen and progesterone levels.
To get started, a good goal is to aim for 20-30g at each meal. This equates to about 3-4 oz of poultry, meat, or fish. One small container of Good Culture cottage cheese or Greek yogurt is also an easy and simple way to get you pretty close to hitting that mark.
#3: Eat MORE happy hormone beauty-foods.
There are some foods that support happy hormones, and other foods that are … well… less supportive. As a general guideline, limit processed foods and refined carbohydrates. Even those “healthy” ones like protein bars, keto breads/cereals/cookies/muffins, and “low fat” or “low calorie” products. When you think of the foods you eat, try to make at least 80% of your intake come from wholesome foods that are as close to as they appear in nature. Purity is what we are going for here: less processing, less additives… less junk.
With that said, instead of thinking of the foods you want to limit, think of all the foods you should EAT MORE of. Foods like dark leafy greens, beets, cruciferous veggies (like cauliflower, broccoli, and kale) dark chocolate, avocado, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, and flax seeds are all things to include more of because they are high in specific nutrients that benefit women’s health and happy hormones.
Please remember these are all general guidelines! Every person is different, and it is the personalization of any wellness plan that leads to true success that is sustainable. If you are interested in working one-on-one with Jillian to develop a custom and tailored plan that works specifically for your needs, wants, and goals, email firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com to learn more and get started! NOTE: If you are on the fence, Jillian offer’s free 15-minute discovery calls to see if working with her is the right move for you!