Most of our lives, as women, are spent comparing ourselves to others. Those we see on tv, our friends, family, and co-workers are all used to guide us toward deciding what is good and beautiful.
About the time we begin to accept the way we look, the way we feel, and decide to stop comparing ourselves to others our bodies begin to take a turn for the worse. The weight begins to build again and we don’t feel as good about ourselves.
This is because perimenopause has taken hold with its hot flushes, headaches, and weight gain. You are not alone – this is a very common occurrence that many women experience.
Although it’s common, it is not mandatory.
Keeping the 7 hormones that most affect weight loss during menopause balanced will help you avoid those unwanted symptoms.
Estrogen & Progesterone
Known as the two primary hormones in women, estrogen, and progesterone work together to keep the female reproductive system function properly. While estrogen is the hormone that controls your mood, it also maintains cortisol, insulin, and other metabolic hormones.
The counterbalance is progesterone, which encourages calming and sedating effects in the brain while keeping your insulin and thyroid hormones balanced.
What happens when unbalanced? – The most common result is known as estrogen dominance. This may cause mood swings, irregular periods, fat gain from changes to the hormones that control your metabolic rate.
Other changes you may notice include elevated cortisol levels, increased appetite due to changes in leptin and ghrelin levels, and decreased physical activity which all lead to a caloric excess and fat gain.
Menopausal Changes – As you near menopause, your ovaries will stop producing as much estrogen while your progesterone levels remain the same. This causes a smaller gap which can lead to sensitivity to insulin, resulting in fat storage around the abdomen. Making a few changes to your lifestyle will help you fight some of the side effects.
Your body is dependent on insulin to control how your body uses or stores glucose and fat. It signals your liver, muscles, and fat cells to use the glucose from your blood as energy. Once your body has enough energy, the liver will then begin storing it as glycogen to be used later. Once those stores are filled, any excess energy will be converted to fat.
What happens when unbalanced? – Due to a lack of physical activity, or an unhealthy diet, anyone can have a decreased insulin sensitivity. This causes the insulin levels to rise and requires more of it to extract the glucose from your blood. Since higher levels are needed, your body will begin converting the excess energy to fat much more quickly and cause problems with your hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin.
Menopausal Changes – When you reach menopause, your insulin sensitivity will decrease. The decrease is due to a combination of muscle loss because of less physical activity, and because estrogen helps sensitize insulin. At Elevation Fitness Centre Burleigh Heads we can will help you make lifestyle and diet changes that improve your “metabolic protection” throughout menopause.
Cortisol is commonly known as the “stress hormone.” It is released on a regular basis throughout your day, such as when you wake up, exercise, or experience acute stress. Its main role is to help your body maintain its functionary processes. However, it also plays a huge role in your nutrition. It keeps your energy balanced by selecting the right type of macronutrient (fat, protein, carbohydrate) your body needs to function.
What happens when unbalanced? – If you enter an extremely stressful situation or experience chronic stress, cortisol levels will become elevated. This will trigger an increased intake of high carbohydrate foods, resulting in excess calories and high insulin levels. This combination will create a fat gain, muscle loss, and lowered immunity.
Menopausal Changes – Since estrogen levels decrease during menopause, you may also find things causing more stress than they once did. You may also notice that physical and psychological challenges are more stressful. You can fight the effects the reduced insulin and high cortisol levels have on your stress levels with the help of the friendly staff at the best gym on the gold coast Elevation Fitness Centre. Be sure to see Ali to arrange a time to chat or any of our friendly staff on the desk during staff hours
Thyroid hormones regulate every cell and organ in your body. They are what control the speed at which your body functions – your metabolic rate. These hormones – thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) – control your heart rate, body temperature, how quickly your body replaces dying cells, how fast your digestive tract works, and how quickly your body burns calories and gains or loses weight.
What happens when unbalanced? – Calorie restriction, over exercising, too few carbs, and changes in other hormones greatly affect your thyroid hormones. As an example, you can enter a “plateau” when trying to lose weight because your thyroid hormones are too low.
The balancing of thyroid hormones is a complicated process through which the hypothalamus tells the pituitary gland to release a thyroid stimulating hormone so that your thyroid gland will release the two thyroid hormones. T4 can be turned into T3, but if your cortisol level is too high the process is hindered and your levels of active T3 hormones becomes out of balance.
Menopausal Changes – Having too much or too little estrogen can cause your body to produce low levels of T3. Lower levels of T3 slows your metabolic rate, decreases body temperature, and cause you to become tired and less active. The right amount of lifestyle and diet change will help you manage your thyroid hormone levels.
Leptin & Ghrelin
Leptin and ghrelin and necessary hormones in appetite control. Leptin is the appetite regulating hormone released from fat cells. Ghrelin is the hormone that increases your appetite and plays a major role in body weight.
The more body fat you have, the higher your leptin levels will be and the lower your appetite. Ghrelin, on the other hand, is not affected by body fat and comes from your stomach. It is the hormone that signals hunger and activates the reward center of the brain. This means that ghrelin is also responsible for our emotional hunger that causes us to eat those high-fat, high-carbohydrate foods.
What happens when unbalanced? – These hormones do not work appropriately if you are overweight, binge eat, or are in the dieting cycle. These two hormones become unbalanced because the brain becomes resistant to leptin (the appetite suppressant) due to restrictive eating. It is important that you eat a balanced diet that includes high-quality foods.
Menopausal Changes – The lower levels of estrogen in your body effect the amount of leptin your body produces, causing a decrease in leptin levels while your ghrelin levels seem to rise. Your sensitivity to the leptin will be reduced making it more difficult to keep the hunger hormones balanced.
Diet and Lifestyle Changes that Will Balance Your Hormone Levels Through Menopause
Even though you may feel as though you are losing control as you get older, you can gain back that control. Making a few diet and lifestyle changes during your 30s will help you balance your hormone levels through menopause.
- Include Protein in Your Daily Diet
As you create your nutrition plan, by yourself or with the help of Ali who is our in house nutritionist at Elevation Fitness Centre Gold Coast gym, make sure you include plenty of protein. The protein will help regulate your appetite and maintain lean muscle. It is recommended that you eat 1.6 grams of protein for every kg (0.73 lbs.) of body weight.
- Aim for High-Quality Protein with Each Meal
You will be able to hit your protein goal, manage blood sugar, and keep insulin in check with high-quality proteins. The amino acids in proteins such as Include poultry, red meat, fish, eggs, and Greek yogurt, are used as an energy source and aids in repairing muscle tissues.
- Eat Plenty of Leafy Green and Cruciferous Vegetables
Vegetables such as leafy greens, cauliflower, and broccoli help your body metabolize estrogen. Plus, they have compounds that help your body remove chemicals that mimic estrogen or induce cancer.
- Avoid Highly Processed Carbohydrates
These foods do not add much nutritional value. Instead, aim to eat high-quality carbohydrates such as fresh fruit, whole grains, and root vegetables. Your insulin and stress levels will be kept at lower levels.
- Eat Fruits and Carbs in Moderation
It is important to eat fruits and carbohydrates, but too many can quickly increase your glucose and fructose levels causing your insulin levels to rise. You can still enjoy your berries and fruit, or that baked sweet potato after a workout, but remember to do so in moderation.
- Include High-Fiber Grains, Fruits, and/or Vegetables with Every Meal
Eating 35 – 45 grams of fiber each day will help keep your gastrointestinal (GI) tract in optimal health. Plus, keeping your fiber levels balanced aids in weight maintenance. Include foods such as broccoli, lentils, Brussels sprouts, blackberries, avocados, and oatmeal at every meal.
- Lower Your Caffeine Intake
You may enjoy your caffeine in the morning to get you going, but avoid drinking it all day. Caffeine increases your cortisol levels and increases stress levels.
- Include Apple Cider Vinegar in Your Daily Diet
Drinking a dessert spoon of apple cider vinegar before a meal with carbs will reduce your fat storage. Plus, it is also a natural insulin sensitizer. You can always mix it with a glass of water or eating it on a salad.
- Remember Strength Training
Make sure you include strength training as part of your exercise routine. It will help you maintain muscle mass and improve fat burning efforts. You can also find the improved mobility and stress reduction a great benefit.
- Manage Your Stress
Find ways to manage your stress. Doing something each day to manage your stress will help keep your cortisol levels low. You can use deep breathing exercises, or be sure to join us in one of our yoga sessions at Elevation Fitness Centre in Burleigh Heads and be sure to keep an eye on the Group Class timetable on our website.
- Don’t Let Yourself Become Deficient in any Nutrient
Low nutrient levels can cause many hormonal unbalances. Magnesium for insulin and stress management, vitamin D for bone health and hormone balance, and vitamin C for metabolizing cortisol and synthesizing hormones are three you should focus on.
- Include Supplements
There are a few supplements that can help you balance your hormones. DIM will keep estrogen levels balanced. Rhodiola rosea or holy basil will help reduce stress. Fish oil help you metabolize estrogen, keep cortisol levels low, and improves your insulin sensitivity.
Again if you are wanting more information simply drop by the desk at Elevation Fitness Centre Burleigh Heads and speak to Ali or one of the friendly staff and we are more than happy to help with information and guidance.