If You Want to Lose Weight After 50, Listen to Your Hormones!
Menopause and weight gain often go together thanks to a combination of hormonal disharmony, slower metabolism and lifestyle factors.
To achieve hormone harmony, it takes more than simply focusing on one hormone. So, for the next 4 weeks, I am going to introduce you to the 4 hormones that could be sabotaging your weight loss efforts.
Today, we will discuss Estrogen and how it can impact your ability to lose weight after 50.
Estrogen is not a single hormone but a class of hormones. There are three major Estrogens that women produce – estriol, estradiol and osteon.
Estrogen is one of the major female sex hormones. Men also produce it, albeit in smaller amounts. In fact, falling levels of estrogen contribute to men’s expanding waistlines just as they do in women, in later years.
Naturally higher in women, Estrogen is responsible for shaping a woman’s unique figure. With age, however, the Estrogen levels decrease, leading to women taking on a more masculine figure.
Estrogen is also the hormone that could be causing you the most trouble in the fat department. When Estrogen levels are out of balance, they can turn you into a fat producing machine, sometimes at a rapid pace, that leaves many women despondent and frustrated.
Estrogen works in tandem with progesterone. Progesterone belongs to a group of steroid hormones called progestogens. Progesterone levels also decrease in your later years. Low levels of progesterone can cause symptoms such as breast swelling and tenderness, mood swings, irritability, trouble sleeping and water retention.
Estrogen and Weight Gain
Estrogen’s responsible for increasing fat storage at the hips and thighs, providing the hour-glass shape. Progesterone, when working in unison with Estrogen, normally halts the storage of fat around the waist, but factors can come into play that interfere with this harmonious partnership.
Stress can have a negative impact on progesterone’s action. It leads to weight gain around the belly that is very difficult to shift due to your progesterone levels being significantly lower than your Estrogen levels.
High levels of stress have been shown to negatively impact progesterone. Therefore, if you find fat accumulating around your waist, you may want to work at reducing any stress in your life and help keep progesterone levels in check.
Since Estrogen levels decline in a woman’s later years, which leads to the negative effects associated with menopause – such as hot flushes and night sweats – many of my clients think that, surely, having an excess of Estrogen is a good thing.
Unfortunately, this is not the case. If you would like to know more about the delicate balance of Estrogen and progesterone here is a good article.
When you are Estrogen dominant, the positive effects that progesterone has on the body are blocked. This happens because Estrogen overstimulates both the brain and the body.
Effects such as calmness and easing fluid retention are the two major, wonderful benefits of progesterone that are sadly missed by any Estrogen dominant, high-strung, bloated, stressed woman.
Confusion arises when you are low in Estrogen but are still Estrogen dominant. Estrogen dominance occurs when your ratio of Estrogen to progesterone is higher than normal. You need progesterone to keep Estrogen’s erratic ways in check.
Signs of Estrogen Dominance
- Weight gain, particularly around the abdomen and hips
- Difficulty in losing weight
- Water retention
- Breast swelling and tenderness
- Mood swings
- Sluggish metabolism
- Foggy thinking, memory loss
- Trouble sleeping/insomnia
Estrogen Dominance Quiz
There is not a simple test for Estrogen dominance. If you have severe symptoms such as bloating, mood swings and weight gain that does not respond to dietary changes or medication, you may have higher than normal levels of Estrogen.
If you think you may be Estrogen dominant, here is a quick and simple quiz that you can fill out online and receive your results immediately.
Here are three tips for reducing estrogen dominance:
Increase Your Leafy Greens
Concentrate on foods rich in fiber and essential nutrients that help to regulate bowel function thus aiding the body in releasing used (no longer needed) Estrogen. Here is a delicious recipe to help you increase your leafy green intake.
Decrease Stress in Your Life
Having less stress will help keep progesterone levels at their optimal. When you are stressed though, your body produces a stress hormone known as cortisol to help you cope with a situation and to respond to it.
Unfortunately, cortisol is made from the same ingredients as progesterone, and the body prioritizes defense from stress over everything else. In short, cortisol production competes with progesterone production.
Take More Vitamin B6
Foods that contain Vitamin B6 can help maintain the estrogen-progesterone balance in your body. These include walnuts, pistachio nuts, cooked tuna and turkey.
Your hormones dictate what your body does with the fuel you feed it. Fixing your hormones is easier than you think. The first step is knowing which hormone needs the most attention, how to nurture it and achieve hormonal harmony. Your body will thank you for it.
Are you happy with your weight? Do you think that you might be Estrogen dominant? How is Estrogen dominance affecting your health? How did you do on the quiz? Please leave your questions and comments below.
Julie Dargan (RN, ND, BHSc) is the Menopause Whisperer. She assists women going through hormonal changes and want to live each day with confidence and enthusiasm. Her website was created to help women understand the menopause and how to halt the middle age spread.