By Natasha Turner, ND Best-selling author of The Hormone Diet Take the Hormone Type Quiz to determine your hormone type. Try 10 recipes from The Hormone Diet.
Weight loss is a delicate process, dependant upon healthy hormonal balance. Let’s consider the three main hormone types that influence body composition and some handy tips that you can apply today to get back in balance. Find out your hormone type by taking this quiz.
The Hungry Hormone Type: Insulin and Cortisol Imbalance
Although insulin plays an essential role in healthy body function, an excess of it will certainly make you fat. Too much insulin not only encourages your body to store unused glucose as fat, but also blocks the use of stored fat as an energy source. For these reasons, an abnormally high insulin level makes losing fat, especially around the abdomen, next to impossible.
Another hormone responsible for unwanted belly fat is cortisol. Cortisol is the hormone responsible for helping us deal with long-term stress, as compared to adrenalin, which is involved in the immediate response to stress. An elevated cortisol level destroys muscle fibers, suppresses immunity, affects memory and concentration, can weaken bone mineral density and contributes to cancer. It can cause increased body fat, particularly around the abdomen, by adversely affecting blood sugar and insulin levels. High levels of cortisol are also very detrimental because it leads to other hormonal imbalances. Together, these two hormones will have you battling an insatiable appetite and craving carbs late at night.
Your Hormone-Balancing Solution
Phosphatidylserine: This product negates the bad effects of stress hormone on the muscles and the brain cells. Taken before bed, 100 mg of this product may be calming and improve your sleep too. White beans, cabbage, barley, rice and carrots are also rich in phosphatidylserine.
Incorporate yoga into your workout regimen to lower cortisol while still working to increase muscle strength. One -two times per week will improve stress-related conditions such as depression, anxiety, high blood pressure and cardiac disease.
Holy basil has been found to reduce cortisol and help the body adapt to stress. It also improves blood sugar balance and the activity of insulin in the body. Take 2 gel caps a day for at least a month.
Balance your protein, fat and carbohydrates for three meals and two snacks each day and consider a non-pysllium fiber supplement to improve insulin sensitivity.
Drink 2 to 4 cups of green tea each day to improve fat burning and glucose regulation in the body. As an added bonus, enjoying it with a meal can lower the blood sugar spike brought on by starchy carbs.
Increase cinnamon in your diet. Just one-quarter to one-half teaspoon a day can improve insulin response and reduce blood sugar levels in 40 days.
Have blueberries in your smoothie daily. This has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity by 22% in six weeks.
The Moody Hormone Type: Serotonin and Dopamine Imbalance
Balancing serotonin is critical for effective weight loss. Though serotonin is typically recognized as a brain chemical, most of this neurotransmitter is produced in our digestive tract. Serotonin exerts a powerful influence over mood, emotions, memory, cravings (especially for carbohydrates!), self-esteem, pain tolerance, sleep habits, appetite, digestion and body-temperature regulation. When we’re depressed or down, we naturally crave more sugars and starches to stimulate the production of serotonin.
Serotonin’s partner in crime, dopamine, is the neurotransmitter that’s heavily involved in the pleasure center within the brain. It is released in high amounts during activities such as eating, sex and other naturally enjoyable experiences. Many researchers today agree that dopamine is one of the reasons that foods can be addictive. We also know stress stimulates the production of dopamine, which provides us with more energy, drive and motivation, just as the addictive stimulants chocolate, caffeine, sugar and cigarettes can.
Your Hormone-Balancing Solution
5 HTP: This is a precursor to serotonin, which means when you take it, your body will make it into serotonin. This product is often used to assist with carbohydrate cravings, binge eating, anxiety, depression and insomnia all of which are symptoms commonly associated with low levels of serotonin. The typical dose is 50 to 200 mg per day.
Rhodiola may enhance learning capacity, memory and mood regulation. It may also help fight depression by stimulating the activity of serotonin and dopamine. Take 200 to 400 mg each day, preferably in the morning.
The best food sources of serotonin-boosting tryptophan are brown rice, cottage cheese, meat, peanuts and sesame seeds. Sources of tyrosine to increase the production of dopamine include almonds, avocados, bananas, dairy products, lima beans, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds.
Coffee may also stimulate dopamine release, but remember to not go overboard on the caffeine!
Meditating or focusing your mind on one thing will improve serotonin levels. Exercise, sex and massage also help to boost these mood hormones.
The Sluggish Hormone Type: Low Growth Hormone, DHEA and Melatonin
Growth hormone affects just about every cell in the body. Not surprisingly, it also has a major effect on our feelings, actions and appearance. This youthful hormone is released during deep sleep and while we exercise. It’s essential for tissue repair, muscle building, bone density and healthy body composition. A study from the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism linked abdominal obesity in post-menopausal women with low growth hormone secretion, elevated inflammatory markers and increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Growth hormone release naturally declines as we age, but poor quality sleep and low melatonin can cause growth hormone production to drop off even further. Without sufficient melatonin, we lose the rejuvenating and fat-burning benefits of growth hormone and become susceptible to abdominal weight gain. Melatonin is a powerful antioxidant that maintains youthfulness, improves sleep, perks up libido and boosts energy and resistance to infections. It affects your ability to fall asleep, stay asleep and your sleep quality.
The final component of our anti-aging trio, DHEA, is a precursor to the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone and is also one of the most abundant hormones in our body. It is known to support healthy immunity (particularly autoimmune function), aid tissue repair, improve sleep and counteract the negative effects of cortisol. It influences our ability to lose fat and gain muscle. Together, balancing these three hormones will have you looking and feeling younger, longer – not to mention a slimmer waistline.
Your Hormone-Balancing Solution
7-Keto DHEA: According to research, 7-Keto enhances metabolism effects, promotes fat loss, protects us from the harmful effects of excess cortisol and appears to prevent the decrease in the metabolism known to occur when we’re dieting. Take 25 to 100 mg twice a day.
Melatonin: Take 0.5 mg under your tongue per day at bedtime to aid sleep. To improve your natural melatonin production, sleep in total darkness (consider blackout curtains!), wearing light clothing or nothing at all.
Walnuts: Research from the University of Texas Health Science Center found that walnuts are a source of melatonin. Top your salads or side dish with 1 tablespoon a day.
Tart cherry juice: In one study published in Natural Medicine Journal participants boosted their exogenous melatonin intake by 85 mcg a day by enjoying this tasty tart drink. The results? There were significant increases in time in bed, total sleep time, and sleep efficiency total with cherry juice supplementation. I recommend drinking 1/2 to 1 cup an hour before bedtime for best results.