By Louise O'Connor, Naturopath + Wellness Coach

Balance Your Hormones For Permanent Weight Loss

Your hormones are powerful messengers directing appetite, metabolism, sleep, blood sugar control and most importantly your sense of well-being.

If you exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, and still struggle to lose weight it could it be your hormones.

Could fine-tuning your hormones be the answer to lasting weight loss?

Here are six reasons why your hormones may be working against you.

1. The Appetite Hormones
There may to more to dieting than just willpower. Your digestive system is capable of synthesising an array of hormones that control your appetite. These hormones are part of a complex system that evolved to help the body deal with periods of famine. Two of the most potent hunger hormones are leptin and ghrelin.

Leptin is secreted by fats cells and sends a signal to your brain when you have eaten enough. Overweight individuals can develop leptin resistance making them unresponsive to the controlling effects of leptin. Ghrelin is produced in the stomach and has the opposite effect. Ghrelin is often called the hunger hormone; it drives the appetite, stimulating the desire for high-calorie foods.

Expert tip: To kick patterns of overeating focus on mindful eating. Practice portion control and select healthy foods to delight the senses.

2. Check Your Stress Hormones
Do you ever ask yourself why do I wake dog-tired and then struggle through the day? These are the tell-tale signs of adrenal fatigue, a state of exhaustion caused by low adrenal function.

The adrenal glands regulate your critical fight or flight stress hormones to help you deal with the demands of modern day life. Over time too much stress weakens the adrenals. Individuals with this condition usually overeat in an attempt to bolster lagging energy and then end up gaining weight.

In addition to fighting fatigue the major stress hormone tells your body where to store fat. This hormone, called cortisol causes greater weight gain around the middle which is a big risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

Expert tip: A plentiful supply of B group vitamins, particularly vitamins B5 and B6 can help recharge the adrenals.

3. Insulin Controls Blood Sugar Levels
One of the key goals to enhancing weight loss is to improve insulin activity. Insulin is a hormone released by the pancreas in response to elevated sugar in the blood.

A diet high in refined carbohydrates can cause the pancreas to secrete vast amounts of insulin. In combination with a lack of physical activity this can contribute to development of blood sugar problems. An insulin controlling plan is needed. Eat regularly during through the day to help stabilise your blood sugar levels. Choose healthy foods and avoid high fat, high sugar foods. Getting your quota of 6-8 hours of sleep can also improve insulin action.

Expert tip: Chromium is an essential nutrient to assist blood sugar control. Chromium nicotinate and picolinate supplement forms are more bioavailable.

4. Low Thyroid Warning
Without doubt a well functioning thyroid is crucial to keep your metabolism humming. Thyroid hormones are like a throttle, boosting your body’s ability to burn calories.

An under active thyroid, or hypothyroidism will slow metabolism to a crawl making it almost impossible to lose weight. If you are worried about hypothyroidism a fad diet won’t work. Restricting calories slows metabolism. This is the body's natural response to conserve fuel during periods of starvation.

Instead choose a natural thyroid diet to help you achieve slow, steady weight loss.

Expert tip: Bladderwrack (Fucus vesiculosus) is a prized thyroid tonic traditionally prescribed to treat weight gain associated with hypothyroidism. This herb is a rich source of iodine, a mineral essential to thyroid hormone production.

5. Time To Get Happy
If you suffer food cravings that are hard to ignore you may have a hormone imbalance that triggers compulsive eating. Serotonin is the body’s primary mood regulating hormone. It has a powerful effect on your mood and appetite. Low levels can result in powerful desires for sugary foods, even uncontrollable food binges.

Choosing nutritious foods that nourish the nervous system can help curb cravings. Serotonin is naturally produced from protein foods. Good sources of protein include fresh fish, lean red meat, organic poultry, organic eggs or secondary protein such as wholegrains, legumes, activated nuts and seeds.

Expert tip: Emotions play a big part in food cravings. Allow time to relax and bring focus to your life. Yoga, meditation and deep breathing exercises are powerful tools to calm the senses.

6. Menopausal Weight Gain
Menopause marks an important stage in life. It is also the time when hormone fluctuations can lead to a range of symptoms including fatigue and weight gain. Many clients report they feel ‘tired, grumpy and weighed down by life’.

These symptoms are the unmistakable signs that too much stress has been a dominate feature of their lives. They have relied on the energy of the stress hormones to help them cope, arriving at menopause with adrenal glands that are simply exhausted.

When called upon to prop up declining oestrogen the adrenals are unable to meet demand. Without the adrenals ability to buffer the impact of declining hormone production from the ovaries women experience more severe menopausal symptoms.

Expert tip: Withania (Withania somnifera) has long been used by Ayurvedic practitioners as a rejuvenating tonic. It is particularly indicated for nervous exhaustion due to long term stress.

Author's Bio: 

Louise O'Connor, Naturopath + Wellness Coach writes and educates on weight loss and natural thyroid health. Visit her at The Natural Weight Loss Programs website.