How Hormones Affect Your Diet

6 Mar

I attended a conference this past weekend put on by Can Fit Pro that featured Dr. Natasha Turner, the leading naturopathic doctor in Toronto.  I bought one of her books while I was there called Carb Sensitivity and although I have yet to read it, I did take down a lot of notes during her lecture.  I heard a lot about food and the effects it has on our body – some of which I already know – but I also learned some interesting new things.  So my job now is to share what I know with you, my loyal readers, in order to arm you with the proper ammunition you need to fight off illness, weight gain, rapid aging, etc., etc…and to help get you or keep you looking young, lean and healthy 🙂

The old adage about calories in and calories out is a farce.  Don’t believe it!  Not all calories are created equal.  Don’t think that if you had a piece of cake today worth about 500 calories that you can simply erase that by burning 500 calories on the elliptical tomorrow.  That piece of cake does more damage to your insides than simply adding 500 calories to your daily allotted limit.  The ingredients in that cake have given your body a sugar spike which directly affects your insulin levels and this, in turn, affects other hormones in your body which in turn can affect your digestion and can also affect your sleep, which then affects not only your mood but your ability to make sound choices in your meal planning, which causes you to eat more food that is causing your body harm, and that vicious cycle just continues.  Do you really think that would happen if you had ingested about 500 extra calories worth of green vegetables???  Not likely.

To tell you absolutely everything I learned in this one day conference would mean converting my 15+ pages worth of notes into this one blog and that would not only take me all night but it would make this blog too long and I’d probably lose most of you.  Instead, I have summarized what I took home as being the top 10 points that I not only think you should know (because I think you should know everything I know when it comes to food) but that I think are good bits of information which can help each of you in your daily lives.  If you can take anything away from what I have learned, take note of these points:

  1. Our HORMONES control every aspect of weight loss including our appetite and cravings, where we store fat and how well we can burn it (i.e. metabolism).  Hormonal balance + calories in/out = weight loss.  In other words, when you are able to keep your hormones balanced and have a proper balance of calories in vs. calories out, only then can you achieve successful weight loss.  Calorie restriction is NOT the way to lose weight.
  2. Chronic STRESS (something which most of us suffer from) increases your cortisol level.  High cortisol is what contributes to making people fat.  It interferes with your thyroid hormone, boosts abdominal fat storage (belly fat), eats muscle fibre and it slows the repair of metabolically active muscle cells.  All of this combined = weight gain.  Oh and believe it or not…even using our iPhone, iPad, IPod Touch, whatever, can cause stress because it forces us to multi-task.  It’s time to slow things down and try to learn how to focus on one thing at a time.  Your health depends on it!
  3. SLEEP SLEEP SLEEP – do not underestimate the power of sleep and the profound effect it has on your diet.  Studies show that subjects with less than 5 hours of restful sleep per night are heavier than their counterparts who have the recommended amount of sleep.  Adults need anywhere from 7 1/2 to 9 hours of restful sleep each night and teens need about 10 hours every night.  Sleep helps control appetite and lose weight.
  4. WATER – start each morning with a glass of lemon water (drink it through a straw to protect your tooth enamel).  Drink 2 glasses of water before each meal in order to help fill your belly.  This will help you eat less at your meal.  It also helps your body eliminate which is extremely important to your digestive system.  That is all I am going to say about elimination…
  5. MEAL PLANNING – eat within 1 hour of rising.  Eat every 3-4 hours to stabilize blood sugar levels in your body and to keep your metabolism working.  Eat at the same time every day (when possible).  Each meal must contain protein, carb and fat at a ratio of 35%P/35%C/30%F.  Eat the protein on your plate first.  Always eat a balanced meal within 45 minutes of finishing a workout.
  6. FOODS TO AVOID – processed meats, artificial sweeteners, farm salmon and peanuts should be avoided at all times.  There is nothing good about them.  Foods you should try to avoid at least 80% of the time are saturated fats, large mercury fish, raisins, figs and dates.  Soy should be consumed in very limited quantities (about 1 serving a day) and is best when fermented.
  7. CHEATING – you should have a cheat meal (or as I like to call it…a “Treat” Meal) once a week.  Make sure to have that as your last meal of the day.  If you have it as your first meal, your body tends to want to eat like that all day. SO TRUE!
  8. INFLAMMATION – inflammation, high insulin, high cortisol and high estrogen are all contributing factors to weight gain.  You cannot lose weight if you are inflamed and the more fat you have the more inflammation your produce.  Cellulite, migraines, depression, sleep deprivation, gout, eczema and heartburn are just some of the symptoms of inflammation.  It’s good to know what foods are inflammatory to you (it varies with each individual).  The only way to know which foods are causing inflammation is to do an elimination diet.
  9. INSULIN – is the only hormone that is always telling your body to store fat.  It encourages the storage of energy as fat and regulates how your body will use that energy.  It is the most destructive hormone in our body, yet without it, we would die.  Excess insulin symptoms include increased appetite and carb cravings (think about how you feel with a hangover), poor concentration, irritability, anxiety and mood swings, fatigue, water retention and/or bloating, weight gain, especially in the belly area.
  10. CARBS – all carbs, regardless of form, end up as sugar in our bloodstream.  Good carbs (i.e. fruits and vegetables) convert to sugar in much smaller amounts and at a slower rate than bad carbs.  They are usually higher in fibre which helps make us feel full quicker and also decreases the amount of insulin released from the body and at the speed of which that insulin is released.  Our bodies need good carbs.  Stay away from any and all of those protein based diets.  They wreak havoc on your hormones!

That is all I am going to leave you with for today.  I’ll be sure to write more as I begin to read her book and find out more fascinating facts about the effects of food and our hormones.

Until next time,

Have a fit and fabulous day!



2 Responses to “How Hormones Affect Your Diet”

  1. Jennifer March 6, 2013 at 11:14 am #

    Hi Lisa,
    Why did they suggest staying away from dates and figs?

    Thanks! Jenn

    • Lisa Pisano March 6, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

      Raisins, figs and dates are just some of the fruits that are high in sugar. Even the natural sugars found in fruits can, when dealing with hormonal issues, can negatively affect your body. These fruits cause insulin spikes in your body which creates an imbalance in your hormones. In moderation they are fine but if you find that you feel differently after eating any of these types of foods, you should consider an elimination diet to see what foods your body deals with most effectively.

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