How to Balance Hormones to Lose Weight? – 12 Natural Ways
Weight loss is about a lot more than “eat less and move more”, it often comes down to hormones that aren’t balanced. Naturally balancing hormones to lose weight, makes weight loss sooo much easier!
If you have been on a weight loss journey, and you’ve reached a point where it feels impossible to lose weight because the scale just isn’t moving. You’re NOT alone!
After struggling with losing weight yet again, I concluded nothing was working for me. I was over 40, and I was determined this would be the last time I would have to lose this weight. I wanted natural alternatives because I wasn’t interested in hormone therapy to lose weight.
Let’s talk about how we can naturally balance hormones to lose weight.
How to balance hormones to lose weight naturally
In my house we believe there is a time and place for medical intervention. That time and place is after we try things naturally. Fixing things with a pill sounds great until you read all the side effects. Come on… “Anal Leakage”, is not something I even want to think about.
When you can’t get the scale to move, and it feels like your just not getting anywhere it’s time to make some adjustments. And it’s often an issue with hormones. But the good news is, it’s easier to balance hormones out naturally once ya have a little knowledge under your belt.
You keep asking yourself “Why am I putting on weight?” And it’s probably hormones, but there is good news!
It is easier to balance hormones naturally than you might think
There is deeper way to look at how to balance hormones for weight loss. Hormones are the chemical messengers that control the natural activity in your body. When your hormones are out of balance, your body may store weight in unhealthy locations, can’t process sugar properly, has stress-related fatigue and mood issues including irritability. Forget about dieting–let’s focus on naturally balancing hormones for reaching your weight loss goals.
To understand how to balance your hormones naturally, a it’s important to understand the basic science behind hormones. But have no fear, I will break the science down into non-science geek terms so it’s totally understandable.
Science holds the key for restoring the natural hormonal balance of your body.
The natural way to lose weight is to lower our caloric intake, and increase activity. Are ya hearing “eat less & move more?) As much as I hate this statement, we all know this. But the issue is doing this too drastically, and repeating the cycle over and over causes massive issues with hormones. And as we age, one of the key hormones for metabolism declines naturally, so this can leave ya in a hell of a pickle.
If you’ve been on the diet cycle for life, and you’ve passed 40, then it’s time listen up.
Weight gain over a certain age may not have anything to do with poor diet and lack of exercise. Recent trends in Americans have shown that weight increases significantly with age, even in people who maintain healthy diets and exercise regularly. This weight gain has become the main cause for concern in America. This is where hormone imbalance and the science behind it, is your weapon of choice!
Before we talk about how to balance your hormones, let’s go over a big chunk of the symptoms so you know where you stand.
Hormone Imbalance Symptoms
Hormone imbalance symptoms aren’t just cramps, zits, inability to lose weight and weight gain. There are a ton of various symptoms that most don’t even associate with hormone balance. I know I didn’t when I started my journey 8 years ago.
You’re probably wondering “How can you tell if your hormones might be out of whack?“, besides cramps, zits and weight gain.
Hormone imbalance is something we think of in puberty and menopause, but in reality 85% of women have dealt with hormone imbalance and didn’t even realize it.
The thing that kills me is that most hormone imbalances can be resolved naturally if we know what to do. So I’m giving you the symptoms and then how to fix that hormone imbalance naturally.
Hormone imbalance symptoms include a whole ton of fun stuff:
- cravings (sugar, salt, specific foods)
- weight loss plateaus
- uncontrollable eating (binge)
- decreased metabolism
- thyroid disorders
- hot flashes
- brain fog
- thinning brittle hair
- reduced sex drive
- increased appetite (hangry much?)
- facial hair growth (have you checked for your chin hair lately?)
- unexplained weight gain or weight loss
- difficulty sleeping
- puffy face
- blurred vision
The more of these symptoms you have (and there are more), the more you should pay attention below. Because right about now (I’m hearing song in my head….)
Reaching ONEderland and Don't Know Where to Start?
If you're new here, and you don’t know where to start on your journey? I lost 120 lbs and I have kept it off for almost 7 years. Check out the following podcast episodes to get you started.
- What are Macros
- Will Macros Work For Me?
- Making Weight Loss Easy
- Binge eating is taking me off track... or is it?
- 5 Reasons For Weight Loss Plateaus
- Have You Told Yourself Weight Loss Is Too Hard?
And while you're here ya should definitely grab guide to get started balancing those hormones, the pre work no one talks about to starting macros.
Balance Blood Sugar for Weight Loss
You may not realize this, but blood sugar drives cravings and hunger…
Do ya’ know the “sugar high” you feel after eating a candy bar (or two?)? Well this is a blood sugar spike. This spike gives you short lived energy and a sense of well being. But it also spikes insulin and this hormone spike has repercussions on the downside of the spike.
So you maybe asking “Does balancing blood sugar help you lose weight?”
The answer to this is a resounding “YES!” Keeping blood sugar steady prevents insulin from overflowing the cells, this means your body has is able to burn fat for energy between meals. Sooo in the long run balancing your blood sugar keeping the insulin flow steady will cause weight loss.
What are some ways to keep our blood sugar levels balanced?
This is one of my favorite questions! There are some little known ways to balance blood sugar, and I love to share.
- Eat a fat, fiber and protein together each time you eat. We call this the “Complete 3”.
- Don’t eat between meals/snacks.
- Eat smaller meals more frequently (think every 2-4 hours)
- Drink 1/2 your bodyweight in ounces of water
- Eat whole foods made with love
Now that you have some ways to keep your blood sugar balanced. Let’s talk a little about Insulin and specifically how a blood sugar spike effects it and sets you up for weight gain instead of weight loss.
How do we ensure our insulin levels remain balanced?
Insulin will remain balanced when we balance our blood sugar most of the time. We talked about this above, all 5 of these items are key in keeping blood sugar and insulin balanced. These are some healthy ways to help control blood sugar levels and insulin levels.
So when does this not work?
This doesn’t work when you have become insulin resistant.
WebMD defines insulin resistance as:
“Insulin resistance is when cells in your muscles, fat, and liver don’t respond well to insulin and can’t use glucose from your blood for energy. To make up for it, your pancreas makes more insulin. Over time, your blood sugar levels go up.”
When you are insulin resistant, it becomes really important to exercise and move your body so your muscles improve at using the glucose (sugar) from your blood for energy, so your body stops making more insulin. It’s also very important to manage your food intake and balance your macros. Knowing how much protein, carbs and fats your eating so you can give your body what it needs to lose weight.
With all of this you’re thinking this is all great Michelle, but “How do I balance my hormones to lose weight?“
That’s up next, below are 12 of the steps to do just this!
EXPLORE THE POSSIBILITIES
START FIXING HORMONE IMBALANCES ON YOUR WEIGHT LOSS JOURNEY WITH MACROS
Create Your Diet to Balance Hormones and Lose Weight Naturally
1. Eat Enough Protein at Every Meal
To lose weight quicker, increase metabolism and reduce the muscle loss associated with aging,and lose weight quicker we need protein. Protein is the first part of the diet to balance hormones and lose weight. The CDC reports that women get a mear 15.8% of their calories from protein. This is not nearly enough for hormone balance.
One of the first things we do in Macros 101 is track everything we eat without judgement. We do this to find out out how much of this very important macro is eaten on a daily basis. Increasing your protein intake is a step in the right direction to balancing those hormones naturally!
2. Avoid Sugar and Refined Carbs.
Now, don’t read this as cut all carbs from daily life… no, no, no (did ya hear my mom voice there?)
Carbs are the second part of the diet to balance hormones and lose weight. Our brains need carbs! If you have cut your carbs below 30% of your daily intake and you are experiencing brain fog, depression, anxiety and overwhelm… this could be your culprit.
What our bodies don’t need is added sugars and processed carbs (think cookies, pastries, food from a box or bag).
How sweets and processed foods leave you feeling empty and wanting for more even after a short period of time?
Avoiding “bad” carbs such as sugar , refined white flour, and processed snacks can help regulate your insulin levels, which will then in turn help regulate your glucagon levels and help you lose weight.
The CDC reports that women get 48.2% of their calories from carbs. The problem with this, is that most of those calories are processed carbs. These processed foods don’t have the natural sugars or fiber your body needs for hormone balance. And it doesn’t leave enough room for the balance of macros our bodies need to naturally balance your hormones.
Whole food, unprocessed carbs come with the kind of sugar our brains need and the fiber that the hormones in our digestive tract need to be in balance. Too many carbs, or carbs not high in fiber send the blood sugar out of balance.
How do we ensure our insulin levels remain balanced?
When the blood sugar is out of balance you are one starving lady, that is exhausted, and feeling like a moody witch (you can substitute a different letter there if ya like.)
So it’s key to balance blood sugar for weight loss, it’s too hard to lose weight when your soooo hungry and crabby, you might just eat your childs face off if they ask the wrong question the wrong way.
When you are overweight, the insulin levels in the body goes off-balance, making it harder for you to shed pounds.
So let’s talk the next piece of this food puzzle – fiber!
3. Consume a High-Fiber Diet
Are you seeing a trend here? Carbs contain fiber, and you need this fiber for hormone balance in the digestive tract. Hormone balance in the digestive tracts leaves you feeling full longer so you eat less. This full feeling is a direct result of balanced blood sugar which leads to weight loss.
This is the third part of the diet to balance hormones and lose weight, add more fiber. But just a quick warning, increase slowly to avoid stomach upset.
Are you seeing how, you might be able to balance your hormones naturally just by monitoring the food ya eat?
Added bonus, all these tips work together to fix sooo many of the symptoms of hormone imbalance listed above.
Eating more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, you’re also eating fiber. The goal is to eat whole grains that are processed as little as possible, and don’t have added sugars.
Okay… gonna get a little science geeky below. If science scares you read the highlights and skip the rest. 🙂
Benefits Of Fiber
A benefit of eating more fruits and vegetables are increased phytosterols, these are found in the fruits and vegetables. Phytosterols are antioxidant-rich molecules that can lower your risk of weight gain and heart disease by decreasing the bad cholesterol. Antioxidants are a subject for another day… but they are a good thing when it comes to health!
PubMed, a directory of medical research articles, had a ton of research on the benefits of a high-fiber diet, the article below exands on many of them. It’s also a great place to start researching the “real science” behind naturally balancing your hormone… if you need more validation.
“Individuals with high intakes of dietary fiber appear to be at significantly lower risk for developing coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and certain gastrointestinal diseases. Increasing fiber intake lowers blood pressure and serum cholesterol levels.”
The fiber also helps balance blood glucose when consumed with a Fat and Protein simultaneously. This balancing of blood sugar helps to balance the insulin level hormones to speed up weight loss. And this is where balanced blood sugar for weight loss begins happening.
4. Consume Healthy Fats
Okay, the 4th part of the diet to balance hormones and lose weight is to eat healthy fats. According to the CDC women really like to eat fats, they come in at 35.1% of all calories consumed.
Controlling hormonal imbalances that cause weight gain is a major factor in successful lifestyle change (otherwise known by some as dieting). Supporting your body with healthy fats to balance hormones will lessen the chances of overeating, boredom, and cravings, and help you mindfully take care of yourself.
The problem is, there is a real difference between healthy fats, and the fats we get in the traditional diet. And often we aren’t distributing them equally by getting them all in one or two sittings.
Fats Vs. Healthy Fats
Healthy fat’s fuel your metabolism, drive the chemical reaction that creates female hormones, balance blood sugar weight loss, and make you feel full longer.
Now there are a couple of different scientific perspectives on adjusting your diet to balance hormones. One believes it can be done, and one doesn’t. Because nothing in life is easy.
So I come at this from my perspective. For 42 years, I wasn’t able to control my weight.
I rode the weight loss rollercoaster, losing over 100 pounds at 21, at 32 and again at 42.
When I implemented the natural method outlined here and used macros as I have them set up in my Macros Done Right!™ framework, I was able to not only lose weight, but I have maintained that loss for 8 years. I did this as I entered perimenopause and I’m maintaining through menopause.
Not only am I maintaining but the women in my programs are losing weight and keeping it off, even when life gets in the way.
This tells me it works.
Want to know more about the different scientific research? Check out this article listed at the US National Library of Medicine Food as a Hormone
5. Eat Fatty Fish Often
Continuing along on the theme of Fat’s in your diet, one of the most important fats for women to consume are Omega 3 fatty acids… and you guessed it, Omega 3’s are found in Fatty Fish. My fav is salmon, but it’s also found in herring, mackerel, halibut, rainbow trout and tuna.
Omega 3’s are important because they offset the inflammatory foods we eat and the Omega 6 fatty acids we consume which are also inflammatory, and Omega 3’s are found in every cell membrane in our body. This makes them the king of fats!
Omega 3 fatty acids are crucial for brain health, mood regulation and hormone balance.. eat fatty fish!
6. Avoid Over Eating and Under Eating
This is a tricky one because it’s not a bad idea to eat small, frequent meals throughout the day. But going overboard and skipping meals can sabotage your weight loss efforts!
The key is to listen to your body and you will know when it’s time for a meal!
“Avoiding Overeating”, feels like a no brainer, but imbalanced hormones causes us to feel emotions extra strongly, increases cravings and causes us to think with a portion of the brain that isn’t logical. So this is where the statement I make all the time comes in “Weight loss is about more than eat less and move more”.
If you’re feeling out of control with food, it could be one more symptom of imbalanced hormone rearing its ugly head.
7. Drink Water
Depending on which statistic you read, you body is made of between 50-60% water. This water removes toxins from our bodies. It’s also part of the chemical transaction that occurs when hormones are made, and it keeps the blood flowing in our body. The blood stream is the transportation system of the hormones we create. It doesn’t do any good for our body to create the miracle hormones if they aren’t traveling our bodies to their intended destination.
8. Drink Green Tea
Green tea is a metabolism booster and contains a compound that reduces the release of the stress hormone cortisol. It has also been studied in women with PCOS, and drinking green tea show a statistically significant improvement in fasting insulin levels, and free testosterone as well as weight loss. So green tea helps with stress, and the difference in insulin levels would decrease hunger thereby decreasing weight.
Having hormones that are balanced is important for weight loss. Drink green tea and gain the vitamins and minerals it provides, to help balancing both insulin and cortisol.
9. Stay Away From Sugary Beverages
Sweet beverages tend to spike insulin and once that spike drops, hunger increases. Balancing the insulin hormone will help to maintain energy throughout the day, which will make it easier for you to stick with your diet.
When insulin levels become too high, such as what happens with a lots of extra sugar in the diet, that leads to high insulin levels, the cells aren’t able to use the sugar for energy and it is then stored as fat.
To prevent high insulin levels, avoid sugary drinks , choose whole-grains instead of refined grains, eat more fiber, eat healthy fats, cut down on portion sizes, eat plenty of protein, and get plenty of exercise to help you lose weight.
10. Learn to Manage Stress
Some stress is good, too much stress causes a total mess in your body. It makes good sleep difficult, it causes cravings and it causes weight gain. How do you eat when you’re stressed? Most women dive into the nearest sugar laden item they can find.
How does the stress hormone cortisol sabotage weight loss?
This is because cortisol wants more sugar to keep production high. It’s a natural feedback loop meant to keep you safe. But sadly we are no longer running from saber tooth tigers, so we don’t need that boost of energy. Our body can’t tell the difference between a 300 item stress inducing “todo” list and a saber tooth tiger.
Now you’re asking…
“How is this overproduction of cortisol related to weight gain?“
Well, cortisol is the hormone that’s released when you’re under chronic stress. It can increase your appetite and reduce your ability to burn fat for energy. It also increases primarily your waist.
But how about…
How does the stress hormone cortisol sabotage weight loss?
Our stomachs have “special” fat cells. These cells have their own receptors, they collect the used up cortisol in the form of cortisone and convert it back to cortisol. In turn it turns immature fat cells into mature fat cells allowing them to expand.
The expansion causes weight gain.
Managing stress is key in managing cortisol production. Your body needs downtime.
Stop Stress Eating with Simple Habits
11. Get Consistent, High-Quality Sleep
How does sleep help with natural hormone balance?
Sleep recharges you, it helps your body recover, and sometimes it feels amazingly hard to get.
One of the most important, yet lost pieces of information is that you need an optimal amount of sleep to naturally balance your hormones. After strategically-timed nutritional changes and consistent movement, you can foresee changes in your hormones that will benefit your weight loss.
Sleep is just one of many factors that affect the optimal hormone balance.
How does sleep affect cortisol and stress?
Consistent sleep, helps to reset cortisol and lower your stress level, so it’s key in reducing hormonal belly too. But it also has an effect on how your body processes insulin and your hunger levels.
A lack sleep leads to increased hunger levels because it plays with our hunger and satiety hormones. Leptin and ghrelin tell us when we are full and when we are hungry. A lack of sleep makes us hit that “sooooo hungry” I could eat a whole elephant right now point.
Just think about this:
How easily stressed and anxious you become on days when you’re sleep deprived?
This stress and anxiety cause an increase in cortisol, which leads to sugar cravings, which often leads to a binge.
Your body has an overflow of cortisol, and as it turns into cortisone, the special fat cells in your stomach grab it up. And then it expands the fat cells in your stomach. and now you have extra fat you don’t want… and definitely can’t find the 6 pack abs.
Just an FYI… sleep is important!
Checkout the infographic to find some ideas to help you get better sleep to start on your natural hormone balancing journey.
12. Engage in Regular Exercise
I prefer the word movement over exercise…
Exercise sounds like a chore.
Our bodies were designed for movement and we simply don’t get enough of it. (As I sit here writing this post, I’ve been working on for two days).
Movement or exercise is good for your health, but too much exercise causes more stress on your body. So like everything else in life, moderation is key!
Exercise in a form that you love and enjoy is a huge part of a new lifestyle. Exercise works to balance some key hormones in our bodies.
How do we ensure our insulin levels remain balanced?
Exercise or movement helps reduce insulin levels and increase insulin sensitivity.
Insulin has several hormonal jobs. It helps the cells in your body take in the sugar from carbs from the bloodstream, and it also pulls the amino acids you get from protein into the cells from the bloodstream.
Why is insulin important to weight loss?
If the sugar isn’t used it turns to fat. If the muscle can’t get the amino acids in its cells you lose muscle and this causes things like slowing metabolism and osteoporosis. Neither are a good thing.
There are more advantages to movement as simple as walking. Activity has been found to increase the level of hormones that typically decline as we age. Primarily hormones responsible for maintaining our muscles.
Those muscles are important! More muscle means and increase in metabolism.
The focus here is how to balance hormones to lose weight naturally. I gave you 12 natural steps, and these steps answer the biggest questions I always get:
1. How do you “reset” your hormones, or jump-start your metabolism?
The best way to start this process is to start simple. That is why I created the free guide: 3 Simple Tips to Balance Hormones for Weight Loss. You can’t do all 12 of these at once. That is a recipe for disaster! These 3 tips are the starting place to reset your hormones AND jump-start your metabolism
2. How do hormones cause weight gain?
Hormones are the bodies regulating system for almost every internal system in our bodys. They regulate metabolism, mood and development to name a few. When our hormones are out of balance our metabolism goes into the toilet so we gain weight.
3. What is the typical hormonal imbalance that causes us to hold onto, or have trouble relinquishing weight?
This is a loaded question. Because hormones are responsible for so many systems in our bodies. If you don’t have any problems with emotional eating or stress eating, then I would say insulin, and estrogen are two of the biggest culprits. But if you are an emotional eater, then Cortisol is your bad boy. Hormone imbalance makes intuitive eating a joke because it makes you feel hungry when your not, and it slows your metabolism so even a slight increase in calories causes weight gain.
4. What causes hormones to go haywire?
Hormone imbalance happens from life stresses, lack of movement, poor nutrition, age and sometimes it’s just genetics (gotta love that). When you combine all of these together your hormones become imbalanced.
5. Which begs the question: how do I balance my hormones to lose weight?
I am a fan of small simple steps over time! As an expert at failing to maintain healthy lifestyle changes, and then finally learning how to maintain that change for 8 years I am a fan of simple. When you try to change everything, nothing is permanent.
What strategy would you add to this list?
Do you have a natural hormone balancing strategy that has worked for you? I would love to know! Comment below and let me know.
Weight Loss Coach, and the Original MacroUnicorn
Hey You Amazing Lady!
Let me help you reach your weight loss goal. I've lost 120 pounds and maintained it for 8 years, and helped countless others reach their goal too. I'm an ACE Certified Health Coach, a certified Precision Nutrition Level 1 Coach and a Certified Wellness, Nutrition and Fitness Coach for people who want to reach ONEderland (below 199 on the scale) and stay there, I coach you and give you the tools to change your nutrition and movement habits and change you life forever.
Through my passionate and open hearted Online Wellness classes, Digital products that get you started, Weight Loss Group membership Coaching, I'm here to inspire you to change your approach to weight loss and wellness—while making it all feel like a natural part of who you are.
And when I'm not coaching you can find me lifting heaving things(often my teens), creating new healthy recipes or researching new lifting techniques.