Nobody wants excess fat hanging around the waist. However, for many people, it is actually the first place it goes as well as the last place it leaves. You should not lose belly fat just to look better because carrying that extra weight around your abdomen isn’t good for your health. In addition, carrying extra weight around your abdomen may be a sign of a hormonal imbalance.
In case you have trouble losing weight, your hormones may be to blame. In fact, your hormones play a significant role in each aspect of weight loss, such as your cravings, your appetite, your metabolism, and where you store your fat. It is important to understand that any type of hormonal imbalance can sabotage your weight loss effort, regardless of your exercise and diet habits.
These Hormones Affect Your Weight Loss Efforts
Abdominal fat can also accelerate your aging process, and elevate your likelihood of diabetes and heart disease. An effective weight-loss program to get rid of belly fat includes proper diet, sleep, exercise, and motivation, since these elements work together to promote fat loss. But, here are also 6 types of hormonal imbalance that can interfere with your weight loss effort:
- Low Growth Hormone
- Low DHEA
- High Cortisol
- Low Testosterone
- High Estrogen
- High Insulin
- Controlling Growth Hormone
Your growth hormone affects each cell in your body and has a great effect on your appearance, actions, and feelings. Additionally, this hormone is released while you are sleeping and exercising. It is vital for healthy body composition, bone density, muscle building, and tissue repair. In addition, a 2007 study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism showed that belly fat in postmenopausal women could be associated with increased inflammatory markers, low growth hormone secretion, and elevated likelihood of cardiovascular disease.
Water: Water is among the most effective methods to elevate Human Growth Hormone levels completely naturally, along with testosterone. If you consume plenty of water on a daily basis, you are constantly hydrated that can help your hormonal system function optimally.
Lemons: Lemons are an alkaline-forming fruit that can balance your body’s pH levels. This can help improve the function of your hormonal system.
Beets: Beets are an alkaline-forming vegetable that can also balance your body’s pH levels.
Whey Protein: If used with resistance training, whey protein can greatly increase the production of Human Growth Hormone. In fact, whey is an excellent source of growth improving amino-acids that boost muscle growth. When buying whey, don’t buy products packed with fillers, coloring agents, and sweeteners such as asesulfame K or aspartame.
Raisins: Raisins are abundant in L-Arginine, i.e., an amino-acid that boosts the secretion of growth hormone. They can also help elevate testosterone levels because of their high amount of boron.
Nuts: Most types of nuts are high in L-Arginine that boosts Human Growth Hormone production.
Parmesan: High-quality, organic Parmesan and other types of cheeses made from raw milk possess growth elevating peptides that boost the production of this hormone.
Watermelon: Watermelon is a great source of L-Citrulline, i.e., an amino-acid that transforms into arginine in your body, as well as arginine that can elevate the production of this hormone completely naturally.
Eggs: Organic eggs are rich in potent growth factors, such as vitamins K, D, E, A and most forms of vitamin B; all the essential amino-acids; EPA; DHA; growth elevating peptides; etc.
Algae: Algaes, such as Spirulina or Chlorella can help elevate the secretion of this hormone.
Raw Cacao/Chocolate: Raw cacao/chocolate is high in tryptophan that can stimulate your pituiary gland to create more dopamine and Human Growth Hormone.
Greek Yogurt: It can also increase the production of this hormone since it is high in L-Glutamine.
Grass-fed Beef: This type of meat abounds in bio-active amino-acids, such as L-Argininealong, L-Glutamine, L-Valine, L-Leucine, L-Ornithine, and substances, such as coenzyme-Q10 and carnitine that all help elevate your Human Growth Hormone levels.
Coconut Oil: Coconut oil stimulates the production of this hormone about 30-90 minutes after consumption.
Goji Berries: Goji berries are packed with nutrients, which make them extremely beneficial for your hormones.
Fava Beans: They are abundant in L-Dopa that can elevate the production of this hormone as well as boost testosterone and dopamine.
Pineapple: This fruit elevates your Human Growth Hormone levels if consumed before bedtime because it is rich in natural substances, which help release serotonin and melatonin.
- Regulating DHEA Levels
Your adrenal gland can naturally produce a hormone known as DHEA, which has a great impact on all systems in your body. Furthermore, this hormone affects your body’s ability to gain muscle and lose fat. It can also boost your libido and help you feel energetic, motivated, and youthful.
This hormone can also:
- Block or decrease the activity of carcinogens
- Help lower stress and fear
- Boost your mood and promote sleep
- Increase your good (HDL) cholesterol levels
- Promote weight loss
- Help maintain your cardiovascular health
- Improve your skin health
- Boost your energy
- Improve your sex drive
- Fight erectile dysfunction
- Boost your immune system
- Enhance your memory
DHEA and cortisol have opposing effects, which means your DHEA levels get decreased with cortisol release during depression or stressful situations. This means that you should elevate your DHEA levels in order to alleviate your depression symptoms because elevated DHEA levels help block the adverse effects of your stress hormones. It is recommended to practice meditation and yoga to reduce your stress levels.
Foods like soybeans and yams can increase your body’s ability to produce DHEA. Yams are actually used to make synthetic DHEA supplements. It is important to know that in case your body has enough of this hormone, it won’t produce any more, regardless of your diet. Moreover, foods like those rich in omega-3 fatty acids, including olive oil, flax seeds, and salmon may also help your body more effectively use its naturally created DHEA.
- Regulating Cortisol
Whenever you experience stress, your body starts releasing the hormone known as cortisol. Cortisol is not harmful to your health if secreted in small doses. However, in case you suffer from chronic stress, increased levels of this hormone over time may result in mood, memory and sleep problems. This may also result in abdominal obesity.
Dark Chocolate and Cacao: Dark chocolate possesses naturally occurring antioxidants that can increase your body’s ability to slow the production of cortisol and reduce inflammation.
Zinc: Many studies have proven that zinc could help block the production of cortisol. This means that you can lower your stress levels by eating foods high in zinc such as cacao, pork, chicken, mushrooms, beans, beef, pumpkin seeds, nuts, seafood, and spinach.
Spinach: Spinach abounds in magnesium that helps balance cortisol production in your body.
Barley and Beans: Since these foods abound in phosphatidylserine, you should incorporate them in your diet in order to help enhance your sleep and calm your nerves.
Omega-3 Fat: Many studies have found that omega-3 fatty acids can help fight inflammation and decrease cortisol levels. In case supplements and pills do not excite you, include omega-rich walnuts, flaxseed, sardines, haddock, and mackerel into your diet.
- Increasing Testosterone Levels
Testosterone is actually a male sex hormone that can affect your sex drive. That’s not all, it also plays a role in sperm production, hair growth, and muscle and bone health. Your levels of testosterone can decrease as your belly fat transforms it to estrogen, and also with elevating stress.
Low testosterone levels have been associated with heart disease, osteoporosis, obesity, and depression. Research conducted at the University of Washington showed that men with low testosterone were at a higher risk of developing a potbelly and other type of body fat. Additionally, researchers concluded that testosterone could also prompt body fat loss when deficient levels are replaced.
Furthermore, other symptoms of low testosterone levels include reduced motivation, drive, stamina and strength; and a loss of muscle tissue.
- Brazil nuts
Oysters: Oysters possess zinc that helps elevate testosterone, sperm production, physical endurance, and muscle growth.
What’s more, vitamin D can also help your body absorb calcium. This vitamin also plays a role in your immune system function, bone health, and other body functions. It is also associated with increased production of testosterone and longer life.
You can increase your vitamin D levels by getting adequate sunlight; and consuming egg yolks, certain mushrooms, or fatty fish like eel, tuna, mackerel, trout, and salmon.
- Regulating Estrogen Levels
In fact, estrogen dominance occurs when your estrogen levels are at a higher level compared to other sex hormones, especially progesterone. Signs of estrogen dominance include breast cancer, headaches, irregular periods, fibrocystic ovaries and breasts, and obesity with fat accumulating in your mid-section.
You can regulate your estrogen levels through your daily diet. Namely, plant-based foods possess natural chemicals known as phytochemicals or phytonutrients, which can help protect plants from bugs, fungi, and germs. These chemicals have also been found to have potent estrogen-like activity. In addition, 2 nutrients called lignans found in flax seeds and nuts; and isoflavonoids found in soybeans are transformed by the beneficial bacteria in your digestive tract into compounds with estrogen-like capabilities. Your gut flora should be in a healthy balance in order to get the benefits from these phytonutrients.
Foods high in phytoestrogen include legumes, soy products, seeds, and nuts. Flaxseed oil possesses the highest total phytoestrogen content. Also, sesame seeds, tofu, tempeh, soy milk, soybean, apples, anise, fennel, ginseng, rice bran, wheat germ, pomegranates, carrots, mung beans, alfalfa, rice, yams, lentils, dried beans, barley, oats, berries, and wheat are also rich in phytoestrogen.
- Regulating Insulin Levels
Insulin is actually a substance, which helps process sugar in your bloodstream and transports it to cells where it is stored as fat or utilized as fuel. If you have high blood insulin levels, you are at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, belly fat, and type-2 diabetes.
The main culprits of increased blood insulin levels include excess sugar intake or excess refined carbohydrate intake. This means that you should eliminate packaged low-fat foods, sodas, sugary beverages, and processed foods from your diet. You should also increase your consumption of beneficial fats, fiber and protein.
Insulin resistance may also be caused by high blood pressure, a family history of diabetes, too much stress, overindulging in alcohol, a lack of exercise, and excess body fat, particularly around your abdomen.
In 2002, Diabetes Care published a study that showed a high-protein diet helped the participants get rid of stubborn belly fat compared to a low-protein diet. The study included 54 obese women and men suffering from type-2 diabetes. Participants who followed the high-protein diet experienced a significant drop in abdominal and total fat mass and a great decrease in bad (LDL) cholesterol levels.
Women should get 25 g per meal and 20 g per snack, whereas men should get an extra 5 g of protein per snack and 10 g per meal. Of course, these amounts are a good place to start depending on your workout schedule and body size. Keep in mind that increasing your intake of protein can keep your blood sugar levels under control, thus reducing your appetite and promoting weight loss. That’s not all, protein can also boost your appetite-regulating and fat-burning hormones if you consume it in the right amounts. Protein-rich foods include omega-3 eggs; lean, organic turkey and chicken; cottage or ricotta cheese, and shellfish, like scallops.
Consuming more high-fiber, whole-grain foods and dark green veggies; while reducing your alcohol consumption; and avoiding foods that possess added sugars and trans fats can help in regulating insulin levels.