How to Balance Hormones for Weight Loss

by Shannon Hyland-Tassava

About Shannon Hyland-Tassava

Shannon Hyland-Tassava has more than 16 years experience as a clinical health psychologist, wellness coach and writer. She is a health columnist for the "Northfield (Minn.) News" and has also contributed to "Motherwords," "Macalester Today" and two essay anthologies, among other publications. Hyland-Tassava holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Illinois.

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Diet and exercise are the building blocks of successful weight loss, but other factors also affect your weight loss. Hormones affect multiple aspects of your physiology, and a hormone imbalance can make it difficult, or nearly impossible, to lose weight. But don't despair -- there are steps you can take to promote hormonal balance, feel good and lose weight.

Step 1

Consult your doctor about your weight and hormone levels. Before making any changes or attempting to self-treat any suspected hormone issues, discuss your concerns with your health-care provider, who can run hormone tests to check for various deficiencies and assess your current and ideal weights.

Step 2

Get enough sleep. In recent years, the link between adequate sleep and a hormone affecting weight gain has become more clear. According to a study by Shahrad Taheri and colleagues published in the Public Library of Science Medicine online journal, participants who obtained insufficient sleep exhibited higher levels of ghrelin and lower levels of leptin and were heavier than longer-sleeping individuals. Ghrelin and leptin are hormones that affect appetite. Specifically, if ghrelin is elevated and leptin is low, appetite increases, which can lead to unwanted weight gain.

Step 3

Find healthy ways to reduce stress, such as through exercise, yoga, meditation, spending time with friends and family or a pleasurable hobby. Stress affects your weight because of its effect on a stress hormone, cortisol. According to Columbia University Health Services, your cortisol level goes up when you're under stress, and if your stress is ongoing, the result may be chronically elevated cortisol levels. Since cortisol stimulates appetite, high cortisol can lead to weight gain and interfere with successful weight loss. In addition, cortisol might play a roe in depression, which often causes overeating and weight problems. To best control your cortisol levels, identify positive ways you can rein in your stress level and your cortisol level as well. Simply taking up yoga or going for a midday stroll might help manage your stress.

Step 4

Complement your sleep and stress-management efforts with a reduced-calorie, balanced diet and regular exercise. To lose weight, you must take in fewer calories than your body burns off through activity, so diet and exercise are crucial for weight-loss success. Fortunately, in addition to helping with weight loss, good nutrition and regular exercise also promote better mood, improved stress levels and higher-quality sleep -- all of which work together to help you lose those extra pounds. Some forms of exercise, such as weight training, also affect your hormone levels to promote fat loss.

Warning

  • Consult your doctor for medical clearance before beginning any weight-loss or exercise plan. If you have concerns about your hormone levels, discuss them with your doctor and follow treatment recommendations.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.