4 Ways Your Hormones Can Help You Reach Your Weight Loss Goals

Hormones play a key role in so many elements of human life. From our growth, to our reproductive cycles, to elements of our health and fitness goals, we rely on hormones We may curse our hormones for making us moody each month but we should probably take a moment to appreciate them. They can help us build muscle, fight cravings, and boost our metabolism. Here are 4 things you can do to naturally boost your hormones and make losing weight feel like a breeze!

1. Curb your cravings all day long

Leptin is most commonly referred to as the "satiety" hormone. After being released from your body's fat cells, leptin acts on the  hypothalamus (in the brain) and does battle with ghrelin, the "hunger hormone." If you are overweight or obese (or eat lots of fructose and added sugar), you may experience leptin resistance. When you eat large amounts of sugars, your body cannot process it fast enough as an energy source and the extra gets stored as fat. The more fat you have, the more leptin your body produces. And if you have a large amount of leptin in your body (or any hormone, for that matter), you develop a resistance to the message it is sending. In the case of leptin, this means that your brain doesn't pick up the signal that you're full and you keep eating, prompting weight gain. BUT, it turns out that most women have low levels of leptin which leads to an increase in appetite. Your fix: Get some sleep. Lack of sleep dramatically reduces leptin levels, according to a study published in the  Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. This is why people with sleep disorders, like sleep apnea, have a difficult time with weight, says Brian Quebbemann, M.D., a bariatric surgeon with the Chapman Medical Center in California. Research suggests that women need between 6.5 and 8.5 hours of sleep every night. It is also important that you go to bed at the same time each night and wake up at the same time each morning. Get yourself going on a regular sleep schedule and you will notice a difference.

2. Build fat burning muscle

We most often associate testosterone with being a primarily male hormone. It is true that men have far higher levels of testosterone than women, but that doesn't mean women don't have any. In fact, testosterone is important when it comes to building muscle. Quebbemann reminds us that the more muscle we have, the more calories we burn -- even when we are doing nothing at all. Your fix: Grab something heavy! Lifting weights is the greatest way to release testosterone says  Pat Gilles, C.S.C.S., a Wisconsin-based trainer. You should be lifting weight that is heavy enough that you can only do three to four sets of six to ten reps with good form. Even better, add some compound lifts like squats, deadlifts, and assisted pull-ups. These moves use more muscle fibers, which spurs testosterone, says Gilles.

3. Give your meals staying power

When you eat, your intestines release  cholecystokinin, glucagon-like peptide 1, and peptide YY (otherwise known as CCK, GLP-1, and PYY). Follow us here for a second: all of these hormones slow the movement of food through your GI tract. This slow movement means you, quite literally, stay full after your meal, preventing you from overeating! Your fix: Eat protein, fat and complex carbs at every meal. Your first step should be to include 20 to 25 grams of protein at every meal. Research from the University of Cambridge has found that high-protein meals, lead to the greatest increase in these hormones. Then, include vegetable fats and fiber from your complex carbs. These foods will boost those satiety hormones and keep you feeling full and energized all day long. No more 3 p.m. energy crash! If you'd like some healthy, balanced meal and snack ideas to get yourself started, check out the BodyRock Meal Plans!

4. Get your metabolism straightened out

Your thyroid is located in the back of your neck and produces thyroid hormones, including T3 and T4 which control how many calories you burn when at rest. Typically, autoimmune diseases are the cause of thyroid hormone disruptions. So, if you suddenly gain weight, your hair starts to fall out or you experience extreme fatigue, call your doctor. However, it isn't entirely uncommon for healthy women to experience occasional dips in thyroid hormones that leads to a slower metabolism. Your fix: Eat more seafood. An iodine deficiency can cause your thyroid to misbehave. Try to eat more iodine rich foods like shrimp, tuna, and cod. If eating seafood isn't really your thing, one of the best sources of iodine is seaweed. Just make sure you read the label on the package as iodine content can vary widely between brands. There you have it! Isn't it time you got your hormones to work FOR you and not AGAINST you? Source: Women's Health

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