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Hey guys!

There’s really nothing worse than working your booty off and then not seeing the results you want. ESPECIALLY if you’re trying to lose a few pounds or lose some body fat. UGH. It’s really hard to put so much work into maintaining a healthy diet and active lifestyle only to feel like you’re STILL not doing something right.

But maybe you’re not doing anything wrong at all.

Calories in vs. calories out is definitely important, but hormones play a huuuge role in weight gain and weight loss too – especially for women.

So what are some of the most common hormones that might be causing trouble for your body? Let’s find out!

Estrogen

I know you’ve heard of this one! It’s known for regulating women’s menstrual cycles, but it can also cause weight gain when it’s too high or low. Estrogen also affects WHERE you tend to store fat. For example, estrogen drops when women go through menopause and that shifts fat storage from the hips and thighs to the stomach for most women. So interesting!

So what can you do if you think your estrogen is out of whack? Well first, see a doctor to confirm and follow their advice. Then, focus on a healthy diet with lots of fiber and get plenty of exercise!

Cortisol

Cortisol is a stress hormone. It’s usually higher in people who are stressed (obviously) and people who aren’t getting enough sleep. When cortisol is high, it can increase your appetite and cause weight gain. It is actually known to cause weight gain specifically in the abdominal region.

If you’ve gained some weight unexpectedly or you’re struggling to lose weight, cortisol might be the issue. Try eating a balanced diet, managing stress with exercise or meditation, and get enough sleep!

Leptin

When leptin is around, it makes you feel full and satisfied by communicating with the brain to let it know you have plenty of fat stored. However, sometimes that communication doesn’t work as well as it should, and your brain doesn’t get the message. That causes increased appetite and potentially overeating. This system is more likely to fail for people who are already overweight or obese, which makes it even harder to lose weight.

Leptin levels can also decrease when you lose weight, which makes your brain think you need more food. This is why it’s sometimes realllllly hard to maintain weight loss!

So what can you do? Some experts think inflammation plays a role in leptin’s miscommunication with the brain. So, try to avoid inflammatory foods like sugar and trans fat and eat plenty of anti-inflammatory foods like salmon, turmeric and berries. Finally, exercise and getting enough sleep may help regulate leptin levels.

Ghrelin

When you’re truly hungry, your stomach releases a hormone called ghrelin. That sends a signal to the brain that you need food! After you eat, ghrelin levels drop and the hunger signal goes away. However, ghrelin doesn’t always decrease like it should for some people, especially those who are overweight.

Avoiding sugar and getting plenty of protein can help lower ghrelin levels and prevent overeating after a meal.

Insulin

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas, and it’s usually associated with diabetes. But insulin is a big deal for all of us! After we eat, it’s insulin’s job to help glucose from our food get into our cells so they can use it for energy. It also controls fat storage.

But insulin doesn’t work efficiently for everyone. Your body can become insulin resistant, and even the slightest resistance can cause big problems. You’ve probably heard of insulin resistance for people who have type 2 diabetes, but the truth is ANYONE can be a little insulin resistant without having diabetes. Basically, this causes high insulin levels in the blood, which leads to weight gain.

You can prevent insulin resistance by limiting sugar and other refined carbs. Instead, just fill up on protein and healthy fats! And of course, get plenty of exercise!

That’s it for your mini-lesson on hormones! Hopefully this helps you understand how hormones play a role in metabolism and weight maintenance. I think it’s really cool to know how everything works, and of course it’s super helpful to know if you’ve hit a plateau. Remember to take care of your body in all of the ways and to be kind to yourself!

The Conversation (36)

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  • Aastha Gupta says:

    I am insulin resistant what can I do

  • Tiffany Chen says:

    I am exercising regularly but am not seeing results and with this quarantine it’s just getting worse. I’m not losing weight or losing body fat! I look like I have a pregnant bump. What can I do??!

  • Elizabeth says:

    I gave birth 5 months ago and I realize that it’s been hard for me to lose weight any advice or tips I can do to lose and get back into shape

  • Nice blog.
    checkout also: 8 Best foods to get a flat belly

  • Kirti rohra says:

    Good

  • Luann says:

    Testing your hormone levels… i have come to find this near impossible . Asked my doctor and got questioned why. Seems my reasons aren’t good enough. She would not simply take my blood and send it to the lab. Gave me some other persons name (out of pocket $$$) all the while murmuring how she doesn’t know if he will or why. It was eye opening to see the response. To be so dismissed and denied and then left wondering how DOES one flippin just get their hormome level’s checked?!

  • Hello maam….I have issue of stomach fat nd face fat ……so ugerly need to overcome of these fat plzzz help me for sure….!!! Nd I M from India

  • Natalie Reed says:

    If anyone is interested in learning more, I would recommend reading Master Your Metabolism by Jillian Michaels. Although I haven’t finished it yet she talks about how our metabolism is really just our hormones and explains the role of each hormone, how they affect our body when they are out of balance, what can cause them to become imbalanced and what you can do to fix it.

  • Vivi says:

    That article is very interesting and helpful! There are times that I do the exact same things but the scale seems stucked and then suddenly my weight just drops down.

  • Diya says:

    Can you explain more about estrogen?And about goods which help to keep estrogen levels on check?
    Much love

  • Diya says:

    Wow
    Loved this💓

  • Lily W. says:

    The fight against insulin resistance is real! But beware, meals with a high protein and / or fat content also increase blood glucose after ingestion, which leads to increased insulin production by the pancreas in respond to that excess of glucose in the blood.
    The ideal, if you have this condition, is to carry out a conscious and balanced diet, predominating seasonal vegetables and fruits with low glycemic load (surface greens and vegetables; cranberries and raspberries), healthy fats and lean protein in moderate amounts, without forgetting nuts, seeds and whole grains in small quantities that provide the necessary fiber to improve your insulin sensitivity.

  • Jessica says:

    How do you make your Charts

  • Paula says:

    I love that you made this! I studied in medschool for a while and it’s the first time I see someone explained how hormones can affect the body and not always its the person’s fault! Sending you good vibes and love! ❤️

  • Letícia says:

    I take birth control, so, this explain why I don’t get my results?

    • Marie says:

      No.
      This is one of the worst Myths associated with Birthcontrol.
      While Yes – it changes the way your hormones work at first and thus you MAY gain some weight, BUT this will only be for a very short time and eventually even out.
      If you have been on this Birth control for 6 months then it will be something else.
      I have been taking Birth control since I was 18 and I can loose weight just fine.
      Most peoples mistake is within their eating habits – They have their 3 meals a day but keep snacking here and there too. While a truly healthy snack of 1 apple as a snack in the morning and maybe a banana as a snack in the afternoon is fine but too often do people tend to snack away a lot more calories than that as a “snack”.
      Figure out how maany calories your body burns in its resting stake (mine is 1400 for example)
      This means if i eat more than 1400 i gain weight.
      If i eat 1200 I loose weight. – But i also work out on top of that.

  • Ashley says:

    I’m struggling with hypothyroidism which explains a lot. I hate having to take medicine and keep getting blood work done but it’s slowly getting better. Age working against me doesn’t help. I haven’t lost a lot of lbs buy I am gaining muscle and losing inches.

    • Dee says:

      Hi! I also have the same issue, been struggling with thyroid disease for almost 4 years now. My weight just randomly goes up and down every check-up. I’ve been doing Cassey’s workouts since April, eating less and healthy, and been maintaining my thyroid hormones intake. I haven’t lost much of lbs as well but my doctor was seeing results that I’m not that overweight anymore. It’s been so hard struggling with this but slow progress is still progress! :-)

  • Ghazal says:

    Cooking for Hormone Balance by Magdalena Wszelaki is really helpful to get to know what food is good for your body and what to avoid. it helps with hormonal imbalance

  • Mykki says:

    It took a long time for me to realize that my thyroid was the thing causing my fatigue, weight fluctuation, and hormone spikes – and apparently thyroid issues are really common so that’s another factor to consider when thinking about hormones!

  • Emily says:

    I’ve spent the last decade or so dieting, exercising, blaming my hormones, blaming this food or that food, taking this supplement and that, while my body stubbornly returns time and time again to about the same weight. I’ve finally got to the point where I feel like I can confidently say there is very little chance of anyone losing weight and keeping it off LONG TERM, based on my experience and the research I’ve done.
    Personally, I feel that telling people “oh it’s just your naughty body not playing along, getting itself all messed up” is just wrong. For example, apart from very very rare and serious genetic anomalies the main reason your leptin is low and ghrelin is high after losing weight is because your body is working to keep you interested in food so you seek it out, eat it and gain the weight back. This is what has kept humans alive through famines for tens of thousands of years – our bodies don’t differentiate between dieting and famines.
    Of course I don’t disagree with the advice to eat well, limit processed foods etc etc but most people who read this already do all of that.

  • Linda says:

    Thanks you so much for sharing this Casee! I have PCOS and I’ve been struggling with hormonal imbalances for years. Even though I eat well and exercise regularly, it’s so disheartening when the fat DOES NOT SHIFT……. at all! I’m seeing a great GP and taking bio-identical hormones, but I cannot for the life of me shift that extra 2kgs. I’m by no means fat, in fact well within the healthy BMI range. It’s important to be patient and understanding with one’s self and not fall into the trap of comparing – which is what I tend to do and then go into this cycle of self loathing. Yuck. Yes I’d love to ‘look’ a certain way, but my body is telling me I need to listen, go deeper, go gently. It’s all about pacing myself – balancing energy levels and not overdoing it. It’s great that you are opening up this conversation as I’m sure there are many women who can relate…

  • Sara Burton says:

    Thanks Cassie this was very helpful im 47 and have beengoing through the change for about 4/5 years now and i have to really watch my weight! Your lessons have given me a lot of mental and physical strength over the years so thank you from the bottom of my heart x x

  • Thank You!!!! This was so Helpful!

  • Cixi cyane says:

    And Leptin and Ghrelin are balanced by a good/bad sleep, if you have bad sleep you will have more ghrelin and less leptin so gain weight ! And opposite effect if you have good sleep. So as you always said Cassey good sleep is very important to be in good shape :)
    You have also the TSH that is an hormone important for the weight, if you have too much you are in hypothyroidism and most of the time you will gain weight (if you have not enough TSH you will have hyperthyroidism and lose weight (can be dangerous)

  • Erica Kephart says:

    Thanks for writing this. It validates my weight loss problems! I have PCOS so that means I have insulin resistance and high estrogen. After having my baby 18 months ago weight loss has been so slow going!! Just knowing it’s not just me really helps me getting working hard.

  • Jessica K says:

    Great post and very true! I used to be able to drop weight so easily in my late 20s and early 30s. After 34 my body went into a slump, I gained about 15 pounds and no matter what I tried I can’t get it off. I even had my thyroid tested and the level is dropping, but it is still within the healthy range so the doctor’s opinion is that it isn’t my thyroid. But I’m determined over the next few months to get these 15 pounds or at least some inches back off. I want to celebrate my 40th birthday feeling the best I’ve felt in a few years. Thank you for all you do Cassey! I love your workouts and motivation!! ❤️

  • Sammy says:

    Hey Cassey! I was wondering if you have any tips or know anything about avoiding weight gain from insulin as a type 1 diabetic? I’ve been diabetic for almost 17 years and I’ve never been able to get rid of that stubborn belly fat. I heard once that artificial insulin can make you more hungry? So it’s sort of a viscous circle…not sure if this is true. Maybe this question is better for an endocrinologist, but I would love to hear your thoughts!

  • Tara says:

    Good post Cassey! Birth control (Combined with a diet including regular fast food) caused me to go from 120 to 165 when I was 16-17 years old. I was a cheerleader for 2 teams simultaneously and active outside of school as well, but my diet and hormones from the BC held my weight/fat levels Much higher than it should’ve been despite being Very muscular underneath. Once I changed my diet to being healthier (lots more water and no more soda!) and went off BC I have naturally stayed around 125lbs (I am now 30). Amazing how much our diet and hormones can play a role in our body composition!

  • Great post! Managing insulin is a really important aspect of losing weight. Even without diabetes, the body can have an imbalance of the hormone. Great advice as always. Thanks a lot for sharing!

    • Linda says:

      Thanks you so much for sharing this Casee! I have PCOS and I’ve been struggling with hormonal imbalances for years. Even though I eat well and exercise regularly, it’s so disheartening when the fat DOES NOT SHIFT……. at all! I’m seeing a great GP and taking bio-identical hormones, but I cannot for the life of me shift that extra 2kgs. I’m by no means fat, in fact well within the healthy BMI range. It’s important to be patient and understanding with one’s self and not fall into the trap of comparing – which is what I tend to do and then go into a cycle of self loathing. Yuck. Yes I’d love to ‘look’ a certain way, but my body is telling me I need to listen, go deeper, go gently. It’s all about pacing myself – balancing energy levels and not overdoing it. It’s great that you are opening up this conversation as I’m sure there are many women who can relate…

  • Colubrina says:

    Hi Cassey, my problem is not fat, if I exercise I lose weight easily. My real problem is that I hold a lot of fluids in my legs. For some years now, also on the front of the thighs, not only in the calves and despite physical activity, the problem has been reduced little.
    The doctor tells me that “it’s age”, but it seems an absurd answer. I would like to know what types of investigation can be done on purpose.

    • Christina P. says:

      Have you looked into lymphatic drainage? Poor lymph circulation can result in fluid retention.

    • Drew says:

      Are you getting enough protein in your diet? Or do you have any heart problems? Lack of protein or a weak heart can cause oedoma which will cause fluid retention in the lower extremities. I would consult a different doctor to try pin down the issue!

      • Colubrina says:

        thanks to you too, I had also thought about the heart in fact, from a Chinese medicine perspective, and I think I will have a checkup by the doctor. I have never had problems, but time passes for everyone :)

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