Posts Tagged ‘Hormone Weight Loss’

9 Strategies for Staying Health at Work

Let’s face it, most of us eat more meals and spend more time at work then we do at home. With working lunches, parties and stocked snack drawers and fridges, our workplaces can have more food traps and temptations to lead us astray from our diets than anywhere else. At home we have more control of what is brought into our kitchens, at work, not so much. So what can you do to stay on the right nutritional track while at work? Here are some strategies you can implement now.

A little planning goes along way – Take a little time over the weekend to plan your meals and snacks and do any necessary prepping like washing and cutting fruits and veggies. This will save you some time during the workweek. No one wants to get up early to pack lunch or do it the night before. Set aside an hour or two on Sunday afternoon to wash, prep and portion your healthy snacks and meals.

Pack your own snacks and meals – We all know making our own meals from fresh, whole foods is better for our waistlines and wallets than eating out every day. Does your office occasionally order in for a working lunch or meeting? You can take a pass from the takeout by eating what you brought. Also, there are a lot of BPA-free storage containers and bags on the market now, so buy some of those to pack your food in.

Drink lots of water – Avoid the bottled water in the work fridge. Instead, buy a large BPA-free water bottle that you can fill up in the morning with purified water from home and drink from it throughout the day.

Create a buddy system – Find a friend or two at work with whom you can lend and receive support. If you have someone watching your back, you’re less likely to grab that doughnut in the morning or have that piece of cake at the birthday party.

Pack a piece of dark chocolate – Have trouble passing up that piece of cake, as mentioned in the above point? When packing your lunch for the day, add a piece of dark chocolate to your bag and get your sweet fix that way instead of eating a big piece of cake.

Don’t dine at your desk – Never mind that our desks are often filthy, germ-filled areas, but eating at your desk is a distraction to mindful eating. Plus, lunch is meant to give you a break. Hence the term lunch break. So step away from your desk, eat in the cafeteria or break room with co-workers or if it’s nice outside, take your lunch outdoors and enjoy some fresh air and just get out of the office!

Communicate with coworkers – Let your coworkers know that you’re trying to stay on track. If they’re aware then maybe they won’t unknowingly tempt you with sweets by coming to your office or desk with diet derailing treats. Even better, start a healthy movement at work and get everyone involved.

Take a stroll – Grab your buddy and take stroll in the afternoon. It’s good to get out of the office and if you tend to get the 3:00 slump in the afternoon, a short walk will wake you up and energize you. Plus, a walk will help relieve stress and it’s better than grabbing a sweet, a soda or a cup of coffee as a pick me up.

Take the stairs – Why take the elevator when you can take the stairs? Climbing the stairs is good for your heart and helps you burn calories.

Artificial Sweeteners are Worse than Sugar

Despite recent news stories you may have seen stating that artificial sweeteners might help keep pounds off, I’m here to tell you that not only can artificial sweeteners lead to weight gain, but they can also cause serious side effects. Artificial sweeteners are actually worse than sugar because they are man-made chemicals and are not recognized as food.

Aspartame (Equal) breaks down into methyl alcohol, a chemical that is poisonous to the human body. It’s associated with a number of side effects, including decreased vision, hearing impairment, seizures, migraines, memory loss, irritability, anxiety, hives and hyperactivity. Sucralose (Splenda) has been linked to migraines and low thyroid.

The way these zero-calorie sweeteners lead to weight gain is by tricking the brain into expecting more calories, thereby promoting desire for sweet foods. In an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association, one researcher summed up study results this way: “Although low-calorie sweeteners are a dietary staple for many individuals trying to maintain or lose weight, an emerging body of evidence suggests these substances offer little help to dieters and may even help promote weight gain.”

Taking into account the aforementioned side effects and the fact that no one really knows the exact implications of sweeteners on hormone balance, but given the evidence so far, it makes sense to avoid them. That isn’t to say consuming regular sugar is okay either. It is best to start retraining our taste buds and bodies to rely less on sugary foods. Read this article for some tips on cutting back sugar without even realizing it.

The fact is consuming too much sugar is one of the main triggers of hormone imbalance. Instead, try using natural sweeteners like honey, agave or Stevia instead. Stevia comes from a shrub in South America and it has been used by Indians for hundreds of years. Agave comes from the Mexican cactus and has minimal impact on your insulin response and can be used in high temperatures.

Is it time for a pantry clean out?

One of the key things to do as you get ready to start the Hormone Weight Loss Diet, or any journey for a healthier life, is to get rid of everything in your kitchen that might wreak havoc with your diet and restock with healthy foods, beverages and snacks. If you don’t have forbidden products in your kitchen, you won’t be tempted to eat them in a moment of weakness. Your family might not be happy with you at first, but it’s for your own good, and their own good, too.

Make sure you remove everything that contains hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats, refined carbohydrates like white flour and white sugar, and high fructose syrup. In addition, get rid of and don’t purchase tomato products in cans; buy them in glass bottles. No sodas, sugary cereals, movie theatre buttered popcorn, salty chips and nuts, sugary juices, and the like.

Try to buy organic food that is antibiotic and hormone free as often as possible. A number of food chains such as Whole Foods, Wild Oats, and Trader Joe’s make purchasing organic foods easier. And most grocery chains now carry their own lines of organic foods. Also, make sure that you’re drinking clean, filtered water.

Now that you’ve cleaned out the forbidden products, it’s time to replace your pantry with healthy products to keep you on track to achieve weight loss.

  • Healthy oils for cooking, baking and salad dressings – extra-virgin olive oil and canola oil
  • Flavorful nut and seed oils for stir frys and dressings – toasted sesame oil, walnut oil, flaxseed oil and sunflower oil
  • Vinegars – balsamic, red-wine, white-wine, apple cider
  • Olives – green or kalamata
  • Unsalted nuts and seeds
  • Low-salt canned beans or dry; just give canned ones a good drain and rinse prior to using
  • Lentils
  • Low-salt canned tuna or salmon; even better look for the tuna and salmon in the pouch
  • Steel-cut oats for oatmeal and homemade granola
  • Unsweetened, dried fruits for oatmeal, granola and DIY trail mix
  • Dark Chocolate with 605 cacao or unsweetened cocoa
  • Quinoa is a great replacement for rice and pasta
  • Green tea to brew your own iced tea
  • Honey or stevia for a natural sweetener in place of sugar and artificial sweeteners
  • Natural peanut butter, almond butter or sunflower seed butter
  • Unsweetened nondairy beverages to make delicious fruit smoothies

12 Belly Busting Strategies for the Summer

We all hate our belly fat, mostly because it is unsightly; however, scientists also have a special interest in belly fat because it is so different than the fat in other parts of our bodies. The major problem with belly fat is that it is actually its own endocrine organ. It can produce hormones and inflammatory molecules, and it has enzymes that turn testosterone into estrogen. In small amounts, that’s ok, but if there is a lot of belly fat and the majority of testosterone is being turned into estrogen in men or women, the result is reduction in the amount of lean muscle mass created, which contributes to weight gain.

Here are 12 strategies you can put into action today in order to bust your belly fat and lose weight this summer.

  1. Cut liquid calories – Don’t waste calories on high sugar, high caloric beverages like soda and juice. Instead, drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, to flush fat and salt from your system and to fight bloat. Add a few slices of lemon or lime to your water for a dose of Vitamin C, which helps fight ab flab. In the summer, it is easy to reach for the fruity alcoholic beverages like daiquiris and margaritas, but those drinks are like liquid sugar and alcohol is high in calories, so limit your intake.
  2. Eat healthy protein sources – Make sure to eat some type of protein source with each meal or snack to keep blood sugar stable. Protein also sends a satiety signal to the brain so you stay full for a longer period of time. Just balance out the protein by adding some vegetables and healthy fats to aid the liver’s capability to process the protein.
  3. Change up your workout – A mix of strength training and interval exercises, workouts that alternate high-intensity effort with low-intensity effort, is the best combination for balancing hormones, losing weight and building muscle mass. It’s summer though, so switch up your workouts with some outside activity like hiking, rowing, swimming, water polo or biking.
  4. Fill your plate with high fiber fruits and veggies – Summer is primetime for fruits and vegetables, so fill your shopping carts with these high fiber foods. Fiber slows the absorption of sugars from your digestive tract to your bloodstream. Fiber also helps you feel full and aids in digestion and elimination of waste. When you eat a lot of fiber, you help shrink your waistline.
  5. Nix the bottled water – In the summer it is important to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, but ditch the plastic water bottles. Instead, fill an eco-friendly reusable bottle like nalgene brand with filtered water and carry that with you throughout the day. The chemicals in the plastic are endocrine disrupters and mimic estrogen, contributing to hormone balance and weight gain.
  6. Relax – high levels of the stress hormone cortisol cause an increase in the production of belly fat. When you’re stressed, your body releases cortisol, which slows down your metabolism and encourages the storage of abdominal fat. The abdominal fat in turn starts sending more cortisol into your bloodstream and the whole process starts over again. Learning how to relax is the only way to break this cycle. Find a stress management technique that works for you – deep breathing, journaling, personal time, meditation, yoga, massage, etc.
  7. Get enough sleep – A good night’s sleep is important to reversing adrenal fatigue. Not getting enough sleep disrupts our sleep hormones melatonin and prolactin and makes us gain weight. Steps to improve your sleep include making sure your room is quiet, dark and the adequate temperature; going to bed early; avoiding refined sugars and caffeine close to bedtime; refraining from using the computer or watching television 30 minutes before bed and do something relaxing before bed like reading or taking a warm bath.
  8. Grill out – Take advantage of the warm weather but cooking out on your grill. It’s a relatively healthier way to cook and you can throw lean meat, seafood and veggies on the grill. Just avoid sugary or salty marinades. If using a marinade, make your own with olive oil, vinegar and herbs.
  9. Shop the farmers market – buy your fruits and vegetables at your local farmers market or produce stand. The produce at these places tends to be more local, which means it had to travel a far less distance, so it is fresher, will last longer and usually less expensive. Look for organic varieties to limit the number of pesticides you consume.
  10. Plan ahead – A little planning can make a big difference. Spending some time planning your snacks and meals will keep your eating on track and you’ll be less reliant on eating out or grabbing something unhealthy.
  11. Find a friend – Having a friend, significant other or family member to eat healthy with and work out with will help you stay on track. You’ll motivate one another and keep each other accountable.
  12. Take advantage of the longer day – After dinner, enjoy the extended daylight by going for a walk or swim, of course just wait 30 minutes before jumping into the pool.

The Health Benefits of Spices and Herbs

Eating healthy to balance our hormones and promote weight loss doesn’t have to be boring, despite what you may think. It’s amazing what the addition of herbs and spices can do to pump up the flavor of a meal and make it more interesting. In addition to flavor, many herbs have excellent health benefits. You can find a full list of acceptable condiments, spices and herbs in chapter 13 of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Hormone Weight Loss, but I have outlined a few, along with their health benefits, for you below.

Cinnamon – known to help stabilize blood sugar and reduce insulin resistance

Turmeric and Garlic – both are wonderful anti-inflammatory agents

Parsley – inhibits tumor formation; is a good source of folic acid and B vitamins, which promote heart health and it has rich sources of antioxidants including flavanoids, Vitamin C, and beta-carotene  

Oregano – the oils in this spice are an effective anti-bacterial agent, it contains numerous phytonutrients that function as potent antioxidants, and is a very good source of fiber.

Fennel – provides antioxidant protection and immune support from Vitamin C; the fennel bulb is a good source of fiber, which may help to reduce elevated cholesterol levels and prevent colon cancer and its good source of folate and potassium have additional benefits for heart health

Cayenne Pepper – the high concentration of capsaicin has been studied for its pain-reducing effects, its cardiovascular benefits and its ability to help prevent ulcers.

Ginger – has multiple health benefits including gastrointestinal relief, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and relief of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.

Lavender – essential oils from this herb are extracted for its medicinal purposes. Add lavender essential oil to your moisturizer or a spray water bottle to relieve chaffed, irritated or burned skin. Lavender has natural antiseptic properties so use lavender oil instead of harsh rubbing alcohol to treat cuts and scrapes.

On the other hand, condiments you should avoid include:

  • Barbecue sauce with high fructose corn syrup
  • Fat-free salad dressings with partially hydrogenated oil
  • Ketchup with high fructose corn syrup

Detoxifying your Body to Improve Hormone Balance, Increase Metabolism and Help Lose Weight

Detoxification is a process by which your body transforms toxins and medications into harmless molecules that can easily be eliminated from your body. In order to be healthy and achieve weight loss, your body has to have the ability to detoxify well. We’ve talked a lot about toxin exposure – BPA and pesticides in our food and phthalates and parabens in household and cosmetic products – and how to reduce exposure to these toxins. But how do you help your organs and body remove these toxins? That’s what we’ll discuss today.

It’s possible that toxic exposure is as big a contributor to obesity as poor diet and sedentary lifestyle. Understanding the best way to keep your detoxification organs healthy and to overcome problems associated with exposure to high levels of toxic environmental chemicals will help with weight loss. With simple lifestyle choices and utilizing some appropriate nutrients, you can keep your detoxification organs working well and increase your body’s ability to remove toxins. Common symptoms of toxin buildup in your body include headache, fatigue, muscle aches, asthma, allergies, skin disorders, and chronic infections.

Your body has four main detoxification organs: the kidney, the liver, the skin, and your gastrointestinal tract. Each of these has a different ability to break down the toxins and to detoxify medications. These abilities are based on your genetic makeup but are also modified through your diet, lifestyle, and environmental exposures.

Detoxification is mainly accomplished in two phases in your liver. In phase I, enzymes change the toxic compounds or medications into intermediate metabolites, or compounds. This is the first line of defense, and if it’s not functioning well, you’ll have toxic buildup in your body. In phase II, other enzymes convert the intermediate metabolites created in phase I into molecules that dissolve in water and can easily be removed from your body. This is where the kidneys and gastrointestinal tract come into play. Your skin, the fourth detoxification organ, is the body’s largest absorptive organ. It lets water, minerals, medications, and toxins in and out of the body. Its main goal is to protect the body from invaders, let in water to maintain hydration, keep you cool by sweating and remove toxins.

There are many nutrients you can take in supplement form to aid detoxification, and those are listed in chapter 12 of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Hormone Weight Loss. Some common nutrients like herbs, green tea, vitamin C and B vitamin complex can make a big difference in the health of your liver. Saunas and steam baths and colon hydrotherapy are also good ways to detoxify your body.

Tips for Monitoring Portion Sizes and Servings

Over the past 20 years, Americans have witnessed an increase in portion sizes as we have watched our waistlines bulge. Restaurant meals, whether at fast food chains or fancy restaurants, have gotten larger as we equate the quality of the restaurant with getting more food for our money. Restaurant meals aren’t the only culprit; packages containing snack foods and soft drinks are getting larger and now contain multiple servings per package. This has made it more difficult for people to know what a normal serving size is and even more difficult to eat only that amount.

Here are some guidelines for the most confused serving sizes:

  • 2 tablespoons of nut butter = the size of a ping-pong ball
  • 3 ounces of cooked meat = the size of a palm or deck of cards
  • 3 ounces of grilled fish = the size of a checkbook
  • 1 ounce of nuts = the size of one handful or 2 shot glasses

In The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Hormone Weight Loss, I cite two studies, one in relation to meal size and one in relation to snack consumption, that both showed Americans have a tendency to eat more when offered. You can avoid overeating due to “portion distortion” in many ways. One of the best tips you can follow is learning to read food labels to determine the actual serving size and the number of servings per package. What you read might surprise you. It also goes back to the topic of conscious eating, which I shared in last week’s issue; instead of being distracted when you eat, be aware of where you are, what you’re eating, and how you’re feeling.

Here are some strategies for controlling your calorie intake with smaller portions:

  • At restaurants, ask for the meal to be divided in half, plating half of it and putting the rest into a doggie bag to take home.
  • At home, serve reasonable portions of food on individual plates, and keep the rest of the food in the kitchen and off the table. Also serve food on smaller salad plates.
  • If eating in front of the television, put a reasonable portion of food into a bowl and leave the rest in the kitchen. An even better strategy is to restrict the food you eat in front of the TV.
  • Because you tend to consume food more easily when you have easy access to it, keep healthy options like high-fiber fruits and nuts out in front.

Supplements to Aid Weight Loss

Vitamins and minerals ensure that thousands of reactions take place in the body to maintain a healthy metabolism, balanced hormones, and good health. A deficiency with just one vitamin can create a chain reaction that slows your metabolism and brings your health down along with it. Nutrients in our food can be depleted by any number of factors, so it’s important to make up for this depletion with supplements such as a quality multivitamin.

To support hormonal balance, weight loss, and good health, there are some key ingredients to look for when choosing a multivitamin.

  • Vitamin A, which supports thyroid function, enhances your metabolism and allows for weight loss.
  • B vitamins, which have many weight-loss qualities including helping metabolism, keeping adrenal glands healthy, converting carbohydrates into energy and breaking down fats and protein.
  • Vitamin C, an antioxidant that is important during times of stress and vital for virtually all aspects of wellness, including healthy metabolism. Low levels of Vitamin C correlate with excess weight and might promote cravings for sweet or salty snacks, or beverages that are sugary or contain stimulants, such as caffeine.

Multivitamins don’t contain adequate Vitamin D, and it is estimated that only four percent of Americans consume enough Vitamin D, so taking Vitamin D in supplement form is important. Vitamin D plays a major role in overall health, but in weight loss terms, it helps the pancreas release insulin and endocrinologists have discovered that weight-loss success is more likely for those taking Vitamin D.

Other vitamins and minerals for weight loss include:

  • Chromium, an essential nutrient involved in the regulation of carbohydrate and fat metabolism. Chromium has been recognized for its beneficial effect on reducing blood sugar levels, burning calories, decreasing sugar cravings, reducing fat and decreasing cortisol.
  • Selenium, acts as an antioxidant and is required for proper thyroid function.
  • Zinc, another trace mineral, is good for your metabolism, helps insulin do its job and necessary for healthy thyroid function.
  • Calcium, is required for breaking up fats and energy production. Too much though can reduce thyroid function and make it more difficult to lose weight.
  • L-Carnitine, is helpful for weight loss by converting stored fat into energy.

Enhance Hormonal Balance: How Unbalanced Hormones Can Affect Your Weight

We talk a lot about the best ways to maintain balanced hormones – eat appropriately, get enough sleep, exercise, eliminate toxins and reduce your stress levels – but what happens around age 40 when our hormones start to naturally decline?

In the years leading up to menopause, known as perimenopause, women start having hormone fluctuations starting with lower progesterone. Add in some stress and your progesterone lowers even more because your body will use it to help make more cortisol. Once menopause hits, your estrogen will begin to fall significantly, and you might notice an increase of fat around your belly. This happens because some of estrogen’s functions are to increase metabolism and insulin sensitivity. As perimenopause and menopause progress, symptoms might increase including hot flashes, weight gain, difficulty sleeping and a host of other problems. Some women can relieve these symptoms with lifestyle changes, supplements and herbs, while other women might choose to replace missing hormones with replacement therapy.

Men can’t escape weight gain due to hormone imbalances either. As men age, testosterone – a hormone with many functions to help maintain weight – starts to decline. And due to lifestyle habits, many men under the age of 40 have low testosterone levels for their age. Low testosterone leads to increase fat mass and weight gain, which then sets off a chain reaction that often leads to fatigue, depression, inflammation, and further weight gain.

We’ve talked a lot about how stress can lead to hormone imbalances and weight gain, but another side effect to stress concerns the thyroid. The thyroid is in charge of metabolism. If your cortisol is high due to stress it tells your body to conserve energy, therefore your thyroid secretes less active hormone and reduce your metabolism, leading to weight gain.

If you’re still having trouble overcoming symptoms of hormone imbalance even after making lifestyle changes, you may want to consider hormone replacement therapy. However, it’s very important to find a physician that specializes in hormone testing and is dedicated to treating the underlying cause of your symptoms and not just your symptoms. A physician who understands bioidentical hormones is also important because they have the correct shape to fit into all the receptors on the cells in your body.

Control Emotional and Stress-Induced Eating this Holiday Season

Author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Hormone Weight Loss, Alicia Stanton, MD, offers tips to reduce emotional eating

Enfield, Conn. (November 1, 2011) – The holiday season is meant to be a time of joy, but for some it can be stressful. There’s so much to do and never enough time to do it, and money is tighter than ever for many people. It’s enough to stress out even the calmest personalities and trigger emotional eating. To avoid this annual trap, Alicia Stanton, MD, leading hormone health expert and author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Hormone Weight Loss, provides some tips to regain control of eating habits and manage stress during the holidays.

“Stress wreaks havoc on our cortisol and insulin levels, which is why during stressful times our bodies crave sweet and starchy foods,” said Stanton. “People who are normally restrained eaters are more likely than others to eat more during times of stress. Stress eating is a way to soothe or suppress negative emotions, but it can really derail weight loss efforts.”

Dr. Stanton offers these tips for combating stress eating:

  • Tame your stress – if stress contributes to your emotional eating, try a stress management technique like yoga, meditation, etc.
  • Check to see whether you’re really hungry – Is your hunger physical or emotional? If you ate recently and your stomach is rumbling then you’re probably not really hungry. Give the craving a little time to pass.
  • Keep a food diary – Writing down what you eat, when you eat, how much you eat and how you’re feeling when you eat, may show a pattern over time revealing your connection between mood and food.
  • Get support – You’re more likely to give in to emotional eating if you lack a good support network. Lean on family and friends or join a support group.
  • Remove temptation – Don’t keep supplies of comfort foods in your home if they’re hard to resist. And if you are feeling stressed or sad, postpone your trip to the grocery store until you’re sure that you have your emotions in check.
  • Don’t deprive yourself – Let yourself enjoy an occasional, small treat to help curb cravings.
  • Get enough sleep – If you’ve tried self-help options, but still can’t get control of emotional eating, consider therapy with a professional mental health provider.