Weight loss and health is more than calories in vs. calories out. For longevity and decreased disease rates you have to watch not only what you eat, but maintain stress and sleep. And… you need to balance hormones. Yep hormones is where’s it’s at. There are so many and they have so many functions. Health is a dynamic. When one hormone or hormone system is out-of-order, you’re kind of screwed. How do I know? Do you know anyone with a thyroid problem? I’ve noticed the last few years that I know several (if not a lot) of people who have issues with their thyroid. Usually it doesn’t just stop there. It’s an axis. My sister started out having thyroid complications, but then her adrenal glands became affected. She is now unable to produce sufficient cortisol (cortisol allows you to deal with stress, it’s part of your fight or flight), a disease known as Addison’s. Now she is faced with taking steroids for the rest of her life. The steroids are itching to get at her stomach lining and do damage. Her risk for diabetes, MS and osteoporosis have skyrocketed. All because her hormones got out of whack and her immune system became compromised.
But there is more with hormones: weight loss, sleep, hunger, muscle tissue, sex drive and more. Insulin is needed, however chronically elevated levels are not good and can lead to inflammation (which chronically can lead to diseases and aging). When you have too much circulating you also begin to spiral down a slippery slope gradually headed towards diabetes. That is why I avoid foods like grains, starches and sugars which will spike insulin. Instead of running off of sugars, I depend then on fat to provide energy and satiety. There are no highs and lows, plus there are no cravings.
Hunger, this one I don’t cover as often but hunger is controlled by hormones as well. Foods with protein and fats release hormones that allow you to fill fuller and satisfied. Carbohydrates on the other hand to not sustain, that’s why you crave them shortly after eating. Many overweight individuals have difficulties ever feeling full because they have jacked up leptin levels, as well which pull the ‘hey stop eating’ trigger. I’m going to tie in sleep a little here too. Ghrelin is released while sleeping. If you do not get enough sleep you don’t produce enough, therefore your appetite will be higher. I can testify to this. On days where I’m dragging ass from lack of sleep, I want to eat more.
Sleep, let’s visit this. Your hormones are restored while you are sleeping. This is especially important for your muscle tissue (and for growing children, it allows for optimal growth hormone restoration). Over exercise tends to be a trend nowadays, but you need sleep and rest to benefit from your hard work in the gym. Your body restores while resting. Think about aging too. Aging (biologically speaking) is associated with a deterioration or breakdown of the body. A decrease in muscle mass is associated with getting older. However, the longer you hold on to it and maintain, the slower your pace of aging (and the firmer/toned your body is). Search the blog for sleep articles (there are plenty trust me it’s one of my favorite topics and something I think is unbelievably underestimated as a key to health, longevity, and weight loss).
Stress, I mentioned cortisol. Again, like insulin (and inflammation for that matter) cortisol is something you need- for when that saber tooth tiger jumps out at you, but you need balance. Too much stress, both physical and mental, can be toxic to the body. Like I mentioned it can lead to inflammation. We’ve got to manage stress. Whether it’s taking on less (doing fewer things better), meditating, time management, or exercising less we have to figure out for ourselves. For instance: I personally like walks. They’re like walking meditation (I call it walking mindfulness actually) for me.
Balancing hormones can lead to a long healthy life and weight loss. Control insulin, manage stress, and sleep more!