Balanced hormones are a thing of beauty – you know, when everything is humming along perfectly – no acne, no mood swings, no brain fog. Sounds like something you’d like to have a little more of…hormone balance, especially if it means getting to or staying at a healthy weight. Read on to find out how you can actually lose weight, balance hormones, and stave off excess fat for good.
INSULIN: One of the most important changes you can make to your diet in order to balance hormones is to eliminate or strictly decrease your consumption of sugar. From a standpoint of balancing your body’s insulin response, this means all sugar – especially added sugar from processed foods. Excess insulin essentially tells the pancreas to dump more insulin, recruit the liver to also push sugar into the bloodstream. The excess sugar is then stored as fat in the liver and eventually fat in the body.
CORTISOL: Decreasing cortisol through decreasing stress plus, improving sleep quality, timing, and consistency. Cortisol has been one of the favorite hormones to talk about for some time, and rightly so. Excess cortisol sends a message to the body to store fat. So, making a commitment to reduce stress and improve sleep should be a simple decision. So, why are so many people still not doing it? It’s simple – our lives are on “high-octane go-mode” all the time! My secret weapon to this is meditation. Even with less sleep and a busy lifestyle, meditation is shown to decrease cortisol and reduce stress – in as little as 5 minutes per day!
GROWTH HORMONE: Increasing growth hormone is like the little “wonder hormone” that keeps you young, lean, and energetic. But we decrease growth hormone as we age…UNLESS, we introduce strength training. Ideally, high volume, moderate to high intensity (75% of 1RM) done with minimal rest periods in between sets has been shown to have the best response as far as increased growth hormone. What’s more, growth hormone is most often secreted at night when the body is resting and muscles are growing and repairing. So, back to point #2, get your sleep!
Remember that hormones work together like little messengers, delivering changes and adaptations in the body. When you affect one, you often affect others. So, finding a balance in training, eating, sleeping, resting, recovery-type exercise modalities like yoga, pilates, and tai chi or qi gong are all extremely valuable in balancing hormones as we age.
For a start to balanced hormones with exercise, consider incorporating total body strength sessions 3x/week, High intensity interval training 1-2x/week and a long slow distance cardio session 1-2x/week. Balanced training, eating, and sleeping = balanced, happy hormones.