A stressed woman, seen from the cheeks down, holds her face.

4 signs you may have a hormone imbalance


Are you feeling like you aren't getting anywhere? Like the more you try to lose that belly fat, the more it stays? There is so much more to your body than what's happening on the surface. Thousands of processes and chemical reactions are happening all the time, and we forget that there's more to health and fitness than what we can see or do on the outside. Daily, our body is exposed to toxic chemicals, deals with new crash diets and changes in what we eat, and tries to get through the day with all the added stresses thrown at it. Your hormones are responsible for these things – and with them working out of whack, or if there is an imbalance, you will notice your body just doesn't feel right.

Signs you may have a hormone imbalance:

  • You feel tired/fatigued but on edge

  • Finding it hard to lose weight

  • Changes in your skin (breakouts)

  • No sex drive

  • Weird hair growth (beard grows really fast, or extra dark hairs on your chest or arms)

  • Cravings for certain foods

  • Irregular or different menstrual cycles

  • Mood swings

The main hormones contributing to these symptoms:

1. Insulin

Weight problems can be associated with an imbalance of insulin – A hormone that is responsible for processing glucose from our food and storing it into cells to be used as energy. If insulin levels are out of whack, your body will end up storing the energy as fat.

How to fix it:

  • Avoid simple carbohydrates like white bread, pasta, white potatoes, or anything with refined sugar or excess fructose content

  • Go for low-GI carbs like legumes, whole grains, non-starchy vegetables

  • Eat more quality lean protein

2. Leptin

We have a hormone that tells us when we feel full – this is called leptin. Without it, we wouldn't know when to stop eating and we will overeat and store fat. It is so important to keep leptin at optimal levels to promote fat burn and balance energy levels, and to regulate our hunger. Leptin is linked to the thyroid hormone and a resistance can block the effects on metabolism.

How to fix it:

  • Get plenty of good quality sleep

  • Eat your omega-3s from fish, lean meat, chia seeds etc

  • Eat slowly and mindfully and chew your food well

  • Cut out simple carbs, starchy refined foods, sugars and fructose

  • Eat high protein and healthy fats first thing in the morning (makes you feel full and stimulates the right hormones)

  • Avoid MSG

3. Estrogen and Progesterone

For women, Estrogen imbalances are common, and can be the cause of fatigue and extra weight gain. When the two hormones change and become imbalanced by stress, nutrition, exercise or lack of sleep, your menstrual cycle can be affected, you experience mood swings and lower libido.

How to fix it:

  • A healthy lifestyle of regular exercise, and a good diet

  • Eat good fats like avocados, nuts and seeds and olives

  • Increase fibre intake

  • Cut out alcohol as this can affect the livers ability to metabolise estrogen

  • Avoid plastic that contains the chemical BPA. This has been linked to increasing levels of estrogen in the human body

4. Cortisol

Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is produced by the adrenal glands and released at times of stress. It is used to help your body respond to stress or danger, it increases the body's metabolism of glucose and it controls blood pressure too. When we are presented with danger or stress, our body responds with a fight or flight response, which cortisol provides. If your body isn't producing the right amount of cortisol (too little or too much) you can suffer from weight gain or loss, skin conditions, irregular menstrual cycle, tiredness and weakness. You can start craving bad foods which leads to overeating and higher body fat.

How to fix it:

  • Eat a healthy well-balanced diet

  • Exercise lightly but regularly

  • Start some calming practices like yoga, meditation or deep breathing

  • Get more quality sleep

  • Get outdoors and into nature

  • Talk to your loved ones about any stresses you are experiencing.

If it sounds like you may have an imbalance of hormones, it is best to speak to your doctor or health specialist. They can test your levels and discuss options with you.

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