We have been told for years and years that what we put in our mouth is the deciding factor of making us gain weight or lose weight, not hormones, the whole calories in versus calories out argument. We are told time and time again if you want to lose weight, you have to lower your calories well, this is a myth, and here I will explain why.
Studies have shown that lowering your intake of calories slows down your metabolism, making the number of calories we expel go down. If you reduce the calories, you take in. You will also lower the calories you burn off because your metabolism slows down with it.
Three hormones called Ghrelin, Leptin, and Insulin are the main hormones that tell the body I’m full stop eating or I’m hungry so eat, insulin tells the body to store fat.
Insulin is also what controls blood sugars, so all those times you fell off the diet wagon and binged on junk food, it had absolutely nothing to do with you being greedy or having no willpower. It was because your hormones were telling your body to eat more. You could even say your own body has been sabotaging you in your weight loss efforts.
On top of these three hormones, we also have cortisol and dopamine. These stress and reward hormones can play a massive part in making you feel hungry or not hungry. When all these hormones are active, you will probably find it impossible to lose weight no matter what you put in your mouth.
Leptin – Satiety hormone
Leptin is the hormone your body produces, telling your body you are not hungry, so you now do not need to eat anything else. This Leptin hormone turns itself off in many people, so you no longer receive the signal telling you to stop eating, leading to overeating and obesity.
Ghrelin – Appetite hormone
Ghrelin is the hormone that tells your body I’m hungry, so you need to eat more. If this hormone is active, there will be a tendency to overeat even when you are full because the hormone was confusing the body by sending the wrong signal, making you eat more.
Insulin – Storage hormone
Insulin is secreted by the pancreas allowing the cells to take in glucose, either for energy or storage for later use. It also stops the fat cells from breaking down. People who constantly eat a high sugar diet can eventually become resistant to insulin. Ultimately, if you overeat sugar, insulin stops having an effect, leading to insulin resistance and then type 2 diabetes.
Cortisol – A stress hormone
Cortisol is a very clever hormone, especially in a state of stress. If we came across a bear in the woods, for example, cortisol would kick in and give us the strength to either stay and fight off the bear or run away as fast as possible. This is why it is also often referred to as the fight or flight hormone, fight being, stay and fight or flight run away as fast as you can.
In some people who have experienced high levels of stress either from childhood trauma, accident, or even toxins, the cortisol hormone is high, which can significantly impact the person daily making. It may even affect sleep and cause weight loss or even weight gain.
Dopamine – Reward hormone
Dopamine is the reward hormone. When we eat or ingest certain things, the body gets rewarded with a massive dose of dopamine which makes us feel good. People dealing with addiction like smoking, drugs, alcohol and even food have some form of issue with dopamine. It makes them feel good, so they keep doing it.
Unfortunately, when we keep doing the same thing repeatedly, whether it be drinking alcohol, smoking or doing drugs, the dopamine hit gets less and less effective, so we have to have more and more to get the same results. This is where addictions come from. Regulating hormones can not only help with weight loss. It can also help with addictions.
How to control hormones
Diet and lifestyle
The first step to controlling your hormones is by changing your diet and lifestyle. The Ketogenic diet is perfect for balancing hormones and controlling blood sugars because you cut back on eating vast amounts of carbohydrates, sugar and processed food. These things cause dopamine releases to switch off the hunger hormones and cause insulin spikes. Eat more green leafy vegetables, fat from healthy sources like fatty fish, butter, olive and coconut oils and protein from meat and fish.
Control blood sugars
Once you have chosen to change your diet and lifestyle, your blood sugars will most likely take care of themselves. Lowering carbohydrates and sugar also reduces the need for insulin. You must stick to eating three meals per day and no snacking in between. Snacking causes insulin to be released, and insulin, as we already know, is the fat-storage hormone, so we want to avoid snacking in between meals altogether.
Sometimes this is easier said than done. We all have an amount of stress in our lives, whether that’s work, home, children or even past experiences, sometimes we cannot avoid stressful situations, but we do have a choice about how we deal with them,
- Take time out for yourself – even if it’s only half an hour a day to do something that makes you feel relaxed, like a soak in the bath with some essential oils or magnesium salts.
- Meditation – Find a peaceful spot where you will not be interrupted, light a candle and empty your thoughts of all those negative thoughts and feelings.
- Gentle exercise – something like yoga or short walks. If you are stressed, you should avoid high-intensity exercise as this can have the opposite effect on what you are trying to achieve.
- Talk to someone – we all know that having a good natter can help you feel better, whether that is with a friend or family member or even a professional. Learning to talk about how you feel can be hugely beneficial for our mental health and well being.
- Get more sleep is difficult, especially as getting more sleep or even any sleep can seem like an impossible task.
- Try to create a healthy sleeping environment, only use your bedroom for sleeping (although being a bit frisky from time to time is acceptable for that dopamine release :P)
- go to bed the same time every night, if you have a TV in the bedroom try to avoid watching it up to 15 mins before bed, set the alarm if you have to but have a book by the side of your bed and read it for those 15 mins before you go to sleep this will help you to switch off.
- Keep a diary and write in it every night. This will help with overthinking once you do get to bed.
Find out more information about why should I do a ketogenic diet.