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“Your weight loss journey isn’t just about how much you’re eating,” says Lacey Dunn, RD, author of The Women’s Guide to Hormonal Harmony and founder of UpliftFit Nutrition. “It’s also about how well your hormones are balanced,” she says, “because hormones affect your metabolism, which affects weight and weight loss.”
After helping thousands of women overcome hormonal chaos, Dunn has identified the best ways to restore harmony. The following five hormones, she says, are the most important ones to balance because they also enable healthy function of the hunger and satiety hormones leptin and ghrelin, as well as serotonin for mood.
- Insulin—Insulin resistance, which occurs when the body doesn’t respond to insulin, causing blood sugar levels to become erratic and rise, is a root cause of hormone imbalance and weight problems. It makes your body store fat, stops you from losing weight, and saps energy.
- Cortisol—This hormone helps you deal with stress, and when working properly, it’s anti-inflammatory. But chronic stress keeps cortisol elevated and makes it pro-inflammatory. High cortisol also increases appetite.
- Thyroid—Low levels slow down your metabolism and lead to weight gain or difficulty losing weight. High cortisol and environmental toxins are common suppressors of thyroid hormone.
- Estrogen and Progesterone—Estrogen dominance (too much estrogen in relation to progesterone) contributes to insulin resistance and thyroid imbalance. The result is weight-loss resistance.
How to Restore Hormone Balance
Restoring insulin function opens the door to hormone balance and weight loss. Dunn recommends choosing high-fiber carbs that don’t come in packages, eating enough protein, managing stress, getting enough sleep, and exercising daily.
Resistance training helps your body respond to insulin and stop hoarding fat. And aerobic exercise is necessary for overall healthy metabolism.
The second step in balancing hormones is to avoid toxins, including unfiltered tap water; fragrances in skincare and cleaning products, detergents, and candles; and toxins in plastic food containers. All of these chemicals disrupt hormones.
Supplements for Hormone Balance
Along with a high-quality daily multi, Dunn recommends taking one of more of the following supplements for hormone balance:
- Myo-inositol: It enhances insulin sensitivity and progesterone levels. Take 2–4 grams daily at any time of day, with or without food.
- Chasteberry (Vitex): It balances estrogen and progesterone. Take 400 mg with a meal in the morning. Some people have trouble sleeping if they take it later in the day.
- Maca root: It balances sex hormones, helping to raise levels that are low. Take 300–600 mg once daily, between meals.