Hormones never seem to tire of rearing their heads and reminding us ladies who's boss. Sometimes it can feel as if we're just acting out the kind of day our hormones decide we're going to have today. But did you know it's possible to harness the power of those hormones and use it for good — namely weight loss? If you curse your hormones every time your period rolls around (or every time you cry during an iPhone commercial), it's time to make a change! Read on to discover how to wake up your weight loss hormones daily.
Get those Zzzs
A good night's rest is one of the most underlying aspects of good health, but it can also play a big role in the weight loss department. Six to eight hours of sleep can help raise your leptin levels, a hormone that when low, tells your brain that you're hungry — even if you're not. Even more is that research has found that excess body fat can cause a condition known as leptin resistance, which means your brain isn't affected by leptin even though your body contains higher levels of it. Not good for those trying to slim down. So getting a full night's sleep is more important than ever!
Along with myriad other benefits, getting your sweat on can ramp up irisin levels, which helps your body produce more fat-burning brown fat (as opposed to white fat). Produced by muscle tissue and released during exercise, irisin will help burn fat.
Lift those weights
Similar to the effect irisin has on the body, lifting heavy weights produces more testosterone. And before you freak about testosterone, know that it's natural and important to have — even as a woman. While women do have teeny-tiny T-levels in our bodies, those testosterone levels can help play a role in weight loss. Testosterone helps with fat burning and muscle building (aka the perfect recipe for losing weight), so add in some heavy lifting to your routine.
Pro tip: By "heavy" we mean that you should only be able to get through 3-4 sets of 6-10 reps each. Try squats, deadlifts and assisted pullups.
Eat more seafood
Next time you're at the grocery, look for iodine-rich seafood (tuna, cod, shrimp). Iodine helps regulate your thyroid hormone production. (Your thyroid produces various thyroid hormones like T3 and T4 that control how many calories you burn just by sitting!) The thyroid plays an important part in maintaining a healthy weight.
Get your macros at every meal
Protein, fat and complex carbs are incredibly important when it comes to weight loss. Your body needs all three to live in a healthy limbo, and having them all there will only enhance your weight loss results. Specifically, they will improve levels of hormones that slow down the food in your GI tract, which means you will stay fuller longer! (Cholecystokinin, glucagon-like peptide 1 and peptide YY are those gastric-delaying hormones we're talking about.)
Pro tip: A meal like an avocado and veggie omelet with a piece of whole grain toast is the perfect breakfast with staying power.
Eat folate-rich foods
Lentils, asparagus and spinach are full of folate, which boosts serotonin levels, which counters cortisol levels. Cortisol is the hormone responsible for your nosedive into potato chips after a long, stressful day at work. (It's called the stress hormone for a reason!) Oh, and did we mention high cortisol levels lead to abdominal fat gain? Serotonin directly correlates with cortisol, so the more folate-rich foods you're eating, the less stressed you'll be.
Follow these general guidelines and your hormones will finally be back on your side of the weight loss battle!