So, you think you are doing everything right. You have it all covered. Calories, exercise, meditation… but that scale is still not moving. Could something else, something inside your body be playing spoilsport? Perhaps you’re missing something vital here.
It seems most of us don’t consider or simply side step the important impact hormones can have on our weight. When some of those hormones racing in our body go out of whack, they can stubbornly refuse to let your scale tip to the left.
So what does one do about it?
Hormones sound complex (after all, there are about 200 of them working in the body) – but it is not that difficult to tame them as long as you keep working on balancing the right ones on a regular basis.
The goal is to gently reset them – turn on those that help us lose weight and keep in check those that help pile the pounds – on a day to day basis.
Keep Oestrogen on Your Side
Why? This can be the most troublesome hormone in the fat department. Both deficiency and overload can turn you into a weight gaining machine. BTW, both men and women are at risk of an oestrogen overload.
Signs of the problem: Low oestrogen levels show up as abdominal obesity (the fat from the hips and thighs shift to the abs), so look out for that. Bloating, cold hands and feet, hair loss are other symptoms. Mental fogginess, hot flashes, night sweats and temperature swings are signs of its deficiency.
Daily tips: Eat less meat and more fibre (read: vegetables and fruits) and keep processed foods out of the pantry to avoid overload. And this is interesting: DON’T aim to get too thin. A healthy bit of padding helps oestrogen production.
Insulin is Important
Why? Insulin is the body’s sugar regulator. Lack of it can seriously make you fat.
Signs of the problem: Lethargy, hunger, brain fog.
Daily tips: Small frequent meals are the way to go. Try not to eat just a carbohydrate meal – always pair it with a protein source to keep levels stable. Good fat sources like olives, avocado, fatty fish, nuts and seeds are a big help – as also a high fibre diet.
Track Your Thyroid Hormone Tirelessly
Why? It is responsible for keeping your metabolism in shape, and the higher the metabolism the easier it will be for you to stay in shape.
Signs of the problem: You feel cold or sluggish all the time.
Daily tips: Eat a good source of vitamin C (orange, amla, lemon), enough B complex (whole grains, seeds, banana), selenium (mushrooms, tuna, eggs, seeds) and go out in the sun to get enough vitamin D. Steer clear of highly processed and junk foods as these trigger auto immune flare-ups.
Also, throw that cancer stick out – smoking significantly messes up the thyroid gland. So much for smokers smoking to stay skinny!
Cosy Up With Melatonin
Why? This sleep hormone helps you stay rested and sleep well. And ‘sleep debt’ (carrying over sleep) is associated with higher weight.
Signs of the problem: Fatigue, impaired memory and lack of concentration.
Daily tips: Consciously work on getting your sleep cycle in order. Pile on B6 rich foods (chicken, fish, peas, asparagus, banana). Eat foods that have natural melatonin: kiwi, cherries, pineapple, walnuts and spices like fenugreek and mustard seeds. And of course, the age old totka: warm milk before bed (it actually works!)
Keep Cortisol Low by Hook or by Crook
Why? When cortisol rises, it makes our body hoard fat as it encourages conversion of blood sugar into fat for long-term storage. Plus, it is also liked to food cravings and addictions. No one wants that!
Signs of the problem: Irritability, frequent headaches, anxiety, high blood pressure.
Daily tips: Count the coffee cups (not more than two or three in a day) as it elevates cortisol dramatically. Keep stress levels down (yes, breathe in, do yoga) as even daily stress, if not controlled, can bathe our body in an overload.
Finally, the important thing to understand is that ALL our hormones are interconnected, and they work together synergistically – so even if ONE is out of whack, it can start a bad cascading effect. Don’t let that happen, for the sake of your weight and health.
(Kavita Devgan is a weight management consultant, nutritionist, health columnist and author of Don’t Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People.)