Are you struggling to lose stubborn belly fat, despite maintaining a healthy diet and working out on a regular basis? If you’re doing all the right things and still can’t seem to shrink your waistline, hormones might be to blame.
Hormonal imbalances are closely associated with belly fat, especially in postmenopausal women. Issues like estrogen dominance can cause some women to pile on abdominal fat, particularly after 40.
Some studies indicate that women who take hormone replacement therapy after menopause may carry less weight around the waistline. However, there are plenty of natural ways to balance your hormones, from eating more veggies and cutting caffeine to getting eight hours of sleep each night.
Many symptoms of hormonal disruption are subtle, mimicking common issues like depression and insomnia. So, how can you tell if your hormones or your habits are causing weight gain? Here are five hints that hormones are the culprit.
You’re gaining weight despite eating a healthy diet
If you’ve always had a relatively flat belly but suddenly develop a lot of resistant abdominal fat, hormones might be to blame. “The body becomes more insulin resistant as we age, especially after menopause.” explains Dr. Gregory Lindson, MD, author at HRTGuru Hormone Replacement Clinic. “Therefore, estrogen dominance leads to insulin resistance and makes the body store fat instead of burning it.”
You’re always tired but can’t fall asleep
Once again, blame cortisol. High cortisol decreases thyroid levels, which can cause weight gain. It also decreases the growth hormones the body needs to repair itself and maintain good health. If you’re caught in a vicious cycle of fatigue, insomnia, and weight gain, hormones might be at fault.
Your moods are all over the place
Thanks to fluctuating estrogen levels, many women who are approaching or undergoing menopause face mood swings along with their weight gain. It’s not uncommon for women to experience depression or anxiety as they enter menopause, and it’s easy to feel down about unsuccessful weight loss attempts.
Instead of dwelling on your weight, focus on incorporating nutritious options like vegetables and lean meats into your diet. Healthy eating habits can prevent insulin resistance and keep you feeling fuller longer.
You’re under a lot of stress
No matter your age, chronic stress can negatively impact your hormones. Sometimes referred to as “the stress hormone”, cortisol increases when the body goes into survival mode. Cortisol tells the body to store fat instead of burning it, which can lead to significant weight gain if you’re stuck in a prolonged stressful situation.
You crave sweets
Insulin resistance also increases hormones like leptin, which tells the body when to stop eating. While more leptin might seem like a positive thing, the opposite is true. When leptin levels remain elevated over time, leptin receptors stop sending signals to the brain that your stomach is full. Without receiving these signals, you’re more likely to overeat.
Can You Reset Your Hormones?
Finding hormonal balance to banish belly fat can be tricky, especially when so many symptoms reinforce each other. It’s hard to get a good night’s sleep, for example, if you’re constantly stressed out, and who has time to eat right when they’re exhausted?
While some women choose to take hormone replacement therapy, there are some simple lifestyle changes you can make to balance your hormones without medical help.
Diet is crucial to losing hormonal weight, and some doctors suggest making radical changes in what you eat. Dr. Gregory Lindson, MD recommends going 40 days without foods and beverages containing sugar, caffeine, and alcohol. An anti-inflammatory diet that emphasizes vegetables, without dairy and gluten, can also help some women drop hormone-related fat and avoid insulin resistance.
When you eat – plays a key role in weight loss. Intermittent fasting may be beneficial; particularly the 16:8 method. This means that you fast for 16 hours and eat during an eight-hour period every day. Dieters can fast during the night or the day, making the 16:8 method a convenient option for most people.
Intermittent fasting is especially effective when paired with a good exercise routine, like regular high intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts. These short, intense routines kick the metabolism into overdrive, and many are only 10 minutes long.
Finally, getting enough rest can work wonders for weight loss, and it’s just plain good for you. Not only do people overeat more when they’re tired, the cortisol connection makes weight gain more likely for individuals who don’t get enough sleep. Most people do best with seven or eight hours a night.