A big response to a recent post on how oestrogen affects leg shape has got me digging deeper into hormones and their impact on our shape, especially leg shape. The number on the scales isn’t always a simple reflection of the calories we consume vs the number we burn, especially on our lower torso. Often the real key to losing unwanted fat on thighs, hips and buttocks and gaining positive energy lies with our hormones.
As many experts have discovered, weight loss resistance is nearly always hormonally based in women, and this is especially true around menopause. When hormones are out of whack at this time in life it has a big effect on our weight – not to mention our mood – and it is possible to reset this and break poor eating patterns, but not necessarily by watching calories or the scales.
99% of weight loss resistance is hormonal. Which is why the calorie-in/calorie-out hypothesis doesn’t always hold up when it comes to diet and weight loss
Calories matter, more to some people than others, but hormones also matter. In fact, to put things in context, most people who struggle with weight also have a hormone imbalance and weight loss becomes easier once hormones are back in sync – they really do control how efficiently a calorie makes you fat.
Most diets don’t work for women, because they fail to address the hormonal root causes that are the most common reasons for weight loss resistance, like excess cortisol, insulin and/or leptin blockage and estrogen dominance.
90% of the time, cortisol is the main hormone that’s out of whack and it ends up disrupting over hormones too. Your body makes cortisol in response to stress, but most of us run around stressed too much of the time, and our cortisol is off as a result. High cortisol levels wreak havoc over time, depleting your happy brain chemicals like serotonin, robbing your sleep, and making you fat – hello muffin top, feeling wired but tired and irritable! High cortisol is also said to be linked to depression, food addiction and sugar cravings.
How to reset it? Try these Legology Lite-style tweaks:
- Add B vitamins and omega-3s to your diet: food wise that means more milk, cheese, eggs, fish and meat
- Think about taking up meditation or yoga
- Have a massage once or twice per month: my Cellu-Lite Salon Secrets For Legs oil was absolutely made for this kind of treatment – use it at home or take it to your massage therapist and ask them to use it
- Limit alcohol and coffee, or ideally switch to green tea, which contains L-theanine, an amino acid that reduces stress without sedation
- Eat extra dark chocolate (80% cacao or higher)
Cortisol is the main disruptive culprit where hormones v weight go with the body. Other hormones, however, also cause issues:
Insulin is a fat-storage hormone and insulin resistance or an insulin block means your cells can’t absorb the extra blood glucose your body makes from the food you eat. When that happens, your liver converts the glucose into fat, so insulin resistance usually causes weight gain and sugar addiction.
Oestrogen dominance is when you have too much estrogen compared with its counter-hormone, progesterone. Having too much oestrogen in the body causes symptoms including weight loss resistance, moodiness, PMS and heavy periods. Read more about this here.
High leptin causes weight gain and excessive hunger. Leptin is nature’s appetite suppressant – it tells your brain to stop eating when you’ve had enough. When you are overweight, your fat cells produce excess leptin. When your brain gets bombarded with leptin signals from too many fat cells, it shuts down; leptin levels keep rising, receptors stop functioning, your body doesn’t get the leptin signal, and you don’t feel full. You keep eating the wrong foods in an addictive pattern, and you keep gaining weight.
Your thyroid acts as the gas pedal of your metabolism, managing how fast or slow you burn calories. When the thyroid is sluggish, it can cause weight gain, fluid retention, hair loss or thinning, depression, and constipation, among other problems.
HOW DO YOU RESET YOUR HORMONES?
The best way to get your hormones back on track and reinstate a healthy weight is to correct hormonal misfires with changes to the way you eat, move, think, and supplement. Start with diet: In my experience, 80% of weight loss is determined by the hormone/food interaction, so you want to eat in a way that optimises your hormones. Here’s my priority list:
CHANGE THE WAY YOU EAT & DRINK
If you’ve read the Legology philosophy you’ll know that we advocate limited processed foods, refined carbs and sugars in the diet. One of the reasons for this is that these foods can aggravate a sluggish lymph and tendency to hang on to the water weight that compromises leg shape – especially chunking up thighs and knees.
It makes sense to do away with alcohol too for 21 days if you are looking to reset your hormones.
A single glass of wine can reduce a woman’s metabolism by more than 70% – it’s temporary, but it adds up if you drink most evenings
Make sure to keep moving, and choose forms of movement that you love so you are happy to do it regularly. All activity helps promote the lymph – which helps to reduce bloat and water weight; so which exercises affect cortisol most? The experts say that burst training – exercising at 90-100% of your maximum heart rate followed by 30-60 seconds of lower intensity exercising or resting – and adaptive exercise like Pilates are more likely to stabilise cortisol than running is. Burst training is especially good and comes without the cortisol-raising side effect of a long run. It’s also effective at raising the growth-and-repair hormone that maintains your lean body mass, a crucial indicator of how your body is biologically ageing.
By which I mean take time to look after yourself from top to toe but especially your legs where hormone misfiring manifests. While thighs – generally characterised by a high density of fat cells – have oestrogen receptors which bind with high affinity to oestrogen they are also at the mercy of the lymph which, if sluggish, collects around those cells and causes the lumps and bumps we identify as cellulite.
Air-Lite Daily Lift For Legs, my hero deep drainage cream, was made for this time of life – to offer the right kind of support at the right moment in the right place: it works to promote the lymph, so a daily application of Air-Lite after body brushing is one of the biggest favours you can do your legs at this time in life.