Are you a woman over 35?
I guess, probably so as are most of my clients.
Well the key to losing weight at this age, and keeping it off is hormone balance.
Hormones are not just about puberty, pregnancy, PMS and menopause. They actually regulate so much of how we look, feel, think and perform every day.
So here’s the main culprits…..
- Stress – our main stress hormone is cortisol. Cortisol is released from our adrenal glands to help us deal with stress or ‘perceived danger’ and is an essential survival mechanism. Its job is to pump sugar into our blood and muscles for extra energy to ‘fight or flight’. But modern life is so full of stressors that our cortisol can be too high for too long and we don’t give ourselves a chance to rest. And all that extra sugar in our blood gets stored as fat, especially around our middle. And the resulting blood sugar dips make us crave more sugar and carbs – a vicious cycle
- Thyroid – as we get older (especially us girls), our thyroid gland can suffer. Thyroid hormones are needed in every cell of our bodies to produce energy and help them do their job. So when we don’t have enough, our whole system can slow down and make us feel tired, lethargic, foggy, depressed and of course make it very hard for us to burn fat. And too much stress also suppresses our thyroid!
- Insulin – this is the hormone that regulates our blood sugar. It’s also our fat storing hormone, so whenever we eat sugar or carbs that we are not burning off, the extra glucose gets stored as FAT. Too much insulin not only increases our risk of obesity, but also diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
- Oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone – these are our sex hormones that determine our femininity and reproduction, but also help keep our bones, heart and brain healthy. As we get towards our peri-menopausal years and beyond, they can fluctuate and decline, causing all kinds of symptoms, including carb cravings and stubborn weight gain.
Great being a woman innit?!
But don’t panic just yet.
You can do a lot to help yourself and here are my top 5 foods to help balance those hormones.
- Protein shakes – Having a protein shake in the morning not only gives you a good dose of complete protein, but also fills you up and balances your blood sugar (keeping that insulin in check), reduces your cravings and keeps your energy levels up till lunchtime. Just make sure you are using a good quality un-denatured organic whey protein,or even better, non-dairy rice and pea protein and not the over-processed mass market ones.
- Cruciferous veg (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, watercress, kale, rocket, bok Choy, Brussell sprouts) – this group of vegetables are super hormone balancing foods. They help to detoxify excess oestrogen, keeping your levels in check and is also protective against some oestrogen driven cancers. Make sure your veg is organic if at all possible though – pesticides can wipe out any of these benefits.
- Avocados – my favourite healthy fat, avocados are low carb and rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, including Vitamin K, C, E, A, B vitamins, potassium, zinc, magnesium and phosphorus. In fact they contain more potassium than bananas, and more fibre than many other fruits. They also make you feel full for longer, reducing cravings and keeping your energy stable.
- Coconut oil – coconut oil contains saturated fats called Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT’s) which don’t need to be digested in the gut, instead go straight to the liver to be quickly converted into energy, giving your metabolism a nice boost (helping your thyroid and increasing fat burning!).
- Nuts and seeds – nuts and seeds are a really easy (and tasty) way to get healthy fats, protein, vitamins and minerals into your diet. Flaxseeds (or linseeds) help to detoxify excess oestrogen. Chia seeds are rich in Omega 3 and fibre. Nuts are also a filling snack with plenty of nutrients, and if you haven’t tried all the different nut butters out there, you’re missing out (hazelnut butter mixed with raw cacao is my healthy version of Nutella!).
And the easiest way to get this little lot in your daily diet?
Make a green smoothie each morning. Add veg, almond milk or water, whizz it up and volia!
Add in some lifestyle tweaks to reduce stress levels, increase your sleep, move more and reduce your chemical exposure, and your hormones will reward you with a faster metabolism, a leaner belly, balanced moods and super charged energy levels!