Calories, Hormones and Weight Loss

Weight loss is more complex than a simple calories-in and calories-out equation. Many years of weight loss research has shown that both hormones and caloric balance are equally important and go hand in hand for permanent weight loss success.

Science does not support diets that recommend going extremely low on calories and fat. When the body falls too low in terms of calorie intake, it enters starvation adaptation mode. In order to protect you, your metabolism slows down to conserve energy. Fat stores are saved due to what your body perceives as an emergency situation. Your body uses lean tissue or muscle to provide the calories it needs to function. This leads to a loss of muscle mass, which in turn lowers metabolic rate and slows weight loss. This is why so many desperate men and women eating very low-calorie diet and skipping meals are not losing a pound.

A very low-calorie diet is not realistic, nor can it be maintained in the long term. Therefore, if you do lose weight on a very low-calorie diet, you will quickly gain it back, when you once again start to eat normal amounts of food.

In the first 30 days of a healthy weight loss program, you will need to eat quite often. Your caloric range will be approximately 1300 to 1500 calories daily. During the 30 days the food you consume will be dense in nutrients and light in calories. Eating the proper amount of proteins, fibre and fat will keep you feeling more satisfied your energy level up and your weight down.

Hormonal Balance

Hormonal health is a critical factor in weight loss and disease prevention.

Eating too many high-glycemic index carbohydrates in the form of white bread, pasta, potatoes and sugary cereals will over-stimulate the hormone insulin, a fat-storage hormone.

High-protein diets trigger the release of a hormone called glucagon, the opposite of insulin. Glucagon breaks down fat and in turn pounds are lost. Such diets make you lose weight initially; they are not sustainable or healthy over time. Eventually the weight is gained back.

Stress levels can upset hormonal balance, causing an increase of the hormones cortisol and adrenaline.

Fat cells around the belly love to attract cortisol, creating a situation of fat storage and increased risk factors for disease.

Hormones need to be balanced for weight-loss success.

Other hormones involved in the “weight-loss game” include:

  • Growth hormone – released from the pituitary gland in the brain, growth hormone secretion increases with aerobic exercise. During exercise the growth hormone increases the use of body fat.
  • Endorphins are your “feel good” hormones. They help to boost energy, suppress appetite and reduce tension and anxiety. The more you exercise, the more sensitive you become to endorphin release, making longer workouts easier.
  • Testosterone – plays a role in increasing basal metabolic rate and decreasing body fat. Women have approximately one-tenth of the testosterone of men; these levels decline as they approach menopause. Men’s testosterone starts to decline at approximately age 40 and up.
  • Estrogen – can boost libido, basal metabolic rate and mood. Decreases with age but can be increased by a certain degree with exercise in women.
  • Thyroid hormones - raise the metabolic rate in the body and help you to burn more calories. Stress, lack of exercise and genetics can affect thyroid function.