“Dr. Liz, I’m not doing anything differently, and I’m getting a belly I never had before!”
This is either near or right at the top of the list of frustrating issues I solve with my patients.
Over the last few weeks, we’ve looked at the hormone changes that cause this “battle of the bulge” and what we can do about it.
To wrap up this series focused on that area of our body that many of us tend to hyper-focus on, today we are going to look at hormones that when they are too high can make that belly bulge.
If you have missed the other parts of this series, then here they are
Insulin is an essential hormone whose main function is to process sugar in the bloodstream and carry it into cells to be used as fuel or stored as fat. A main cause of high insulin is excess intake of sugar or carbohydrates typical of the “standard American diet” (or S.A.D. for short).
The S.A.D. includes nutrient-poor carbohydrates such as processed foods, sugary drinks and sodas, packaged low-fat foods, along with not enough intake of protein or healthy fats or fiber. Too much insulin floating around leads to the body not processing the signals correctly, which is a condition of insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance may also be attributed to lack of exercise, too much alcohol, too much stress, a family history of (i.e. a genetic predisposition to) diabetes, high blood pressure and excess body fat, especially around the abdomen.
A higher-protein diet helps to shed stubborn belly fat, according to a study published in Diabetes Care (March 2002). Researchers compared a high-protein diet with a low-protein diet in 54 obese men and women with type 2 diabetes. Those on the high-protein diet had significantly greater reductions in total and abdominal fat mass and a greater reduction in LDL cholesterol.
This was our topic that started this series a few weeks ago. You can refresh yourself on the connection between high cortisol and belly fat by clicking here.
A premenopausal woman with high levels of estrogen (also known as estrogen dominance) might have PMS, too much body fat around the hips, and/or difficulty losing weight.
In menopause, estrogen not balanced out by progesterone can cause similar problems with metabolism and mood.
Blood or saliva testing can check your levels. If levels are high, consider a product with indole-3-carbinol, green tea, or turmeric – all three help balance out the forms of estrogen made in the body. Green vegetables also improve the ratio of “good” estrogen to “bad” estrogen.
Adding ground flax, chia seeds and/or a non-psyllium fiber supplement can also help your body to eliminate harmful estrogen (again improving the ratio I mentioned above).
As we all get older, our hormone levels decline at different rates, sometimes resulting in some big ups and downs.
This kind of hormone imbalance – low or high levels – can really throw off our metabolism.
We have to understand and rebalance the important hormones we’ve talked about if we don’t want to be defeated in belly fat combat.