We often talk about how the simple things matter with weight loss. Whether learning to skip the starch at dinner, walk on your lunch break, or substituting your processes snack foods for veggies and hummus, but we often miss the opportunity to talk about the simple habits that are negatively affecting our weight loss. As we have discussed in many articles, current research tells us that weight loss is far less about calories than we once thought and far more about balancing our fat burning hormones over our fat storing hormones. From insulin to leptin and ghrelin, we have learned that our habits greatly affect our hormone levels, which in turn affect not only our hunger, but our body’s ability to burn fat effectively. Changing some of our simple habits can really help us to tip the scales in the direction that makes weight loss less of a fight. Every little bit helps, so read below to make sure your habits maximize your body’s hormonally driven metabolic function.
- Skipping the cardio. We know that metabolically speaking, strength training is the gold standard for revving the metabolic engine round the clock. But there is an interesting fact that many often skip when considering cardio. Cardiovascular exercise actually helps to stimulate ghrelin production which naturally helps to decrease the appetite. This hormonal action is actually triggered when we produce sweat from exercise. Make sure not to go crazy with the exercise as overdoing it can cause an increase in hunger, but aiming for 20-30 minutes of interval training or even intense walking or jogging intervals can help maintain the hunger/satiety hormonal balance. Always be careful though of the mental triggers that often result from cardio, the “I worked hard so I’m sure I burned enough to eat…” triggers.
- Jumping on “the wagon” again. Yo yo dieting wreaks havoc on hormonal balance. From leptin to ghrelin to even estrogen, the body’s delicate hormonal balance is turned upside down when we make drastic changes in our diet quickly (part of the reason that we only encourage one new change every 1-2 weeks in the heart in motion program). When our hormones are disrupted, we are cranky, tired, and hungry which causes us to “fall off the wagon” which perpetuates the problem even further. Careful weekly changes are the best way to go to allow the body to adapt accordingly without disrupting the hormones.
- Caffeine chug. Don’t worry. Keep reading. Nobody is going to take away your morning java. But listen for a minute to understand. Disrupted cortisol levels are one of the more commonly known reason for stalled weight loss and abdominal fat. Having a cup of coffee in the morning is totally fine, but try to stop there. Continued exposure during the day of caffeine can keep those “fight or flight” hormones higher than necessary, causing the body to hold onto fat even without the extra cream and sugar. John’s Hopkins school of Public Health found that cortisol levels raised significantly every time that study participants ingested caffeine, so it is best to keep consumption to one cup in the morning and stick to decaf tea and water during the day. If you want to take it a step further, try mixing half caf/half decaf for your morning brew as well.
- Indulging your sweet (or starch) tooth. Weight loss is NOT JUST ABOUT CALORIES. It is about hormones. Indulging your sweet tooth over time causes insulin resistance as well as leptin resistance. Both cause cravings ans stalled weight loss. Decreasing the sweets and starches over time and replacing them with whole foods like fruits and vegetables is the best way to reverse this hormonal imbalance.
STEP(S) FOR THIS WEEK:
- Keeping it simple this week, we outlined 4 of the most commonly missed habits that can upset our fat loss hormones in favor of cravings and fat gain. As we have been discussing over the past few weeks, HORMONES are the KEY to weight loss, weight maintenance, balancing cravings, mood, and disease prevention. The food we eat is information to our bodies and has the power to turn hormones on and off. Take control today by making simple changes to rebalance your hormones through your habits.