If you are constantly stressed, tired and feeling under the weather, you could be in a state of hormone imbalance. Our hormones play a huge role in how we feel mentally and physically, and directly affects our mood, how alert we are, our energy levels, hunger, how we sleep, and our ability to build muscle and lose fat.
It is thus crucial that we take our hormone balance into consideration, and this can generally be addressed by optimising your diet. Food directly affects your hormones via the nutrients in what you eat and the calories you derive from eating those foods, enabling optimal hormone synthesis, clearance, and proper metabolic function. If you’ve been having trouble losing fat, it could very well be due to your diet.
By optimising your nutrition you directly influence the hunger hormones ghrelin and leptin, metabolic hormones glucagon and insulin, stress hormonnes cortisol and epinephrine, sex hormones estrogen and testosterone, and sleep hormone melatonin. Here are the 4 diet tips you can use to balance your hormones.
1. Ensure Your Meals Contain Protein, Vegetables And Some Healthy Fats
To prevent metabolic slowdown from a loss of lean mass, it’s important to make sure that your meals contain a good serving of protein. Protein provides the building blocks necessary to rebuild muscle in our body, which is constantly in a state of breakdown and repair, as well as providing satiety and blood sugar regulation.
However, while protein is great, ultra lean protein such as egg whites can be difficult to handle by the gut which may affect absorption and digestion. In nature it’s rare to find ultra lean proteins, and even in plan proteins, fat is always there to go hand in hand. Further, adding vegetables ensure you get further satiation benefits as well aiding in digestion, so next time you eat, try to focus your meals around these 3 key areas.
2. Make Sure You Get A Wide Variety Of Carbohydrates
Carbs are often seen as the enemy as social media and people misinterpret the suggestion to remove carbs first when undergoing a fat loss diet. While carbs are not an essential macronutrient, carbs are the body’s preferred source of energy and do provide a variety of nutrients necessary for our body. Doctors thus often recommend patients to eat the rainbow, and it’s a strategy to ensure you are getting a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, all things that are important in hormone balance.
Ensure you eat a wide variety of vegetables and aim to have faster digesting, starchy carbs around workouts where they can be utilised more efficiently.
3. Try To Minimise Refined Foods In Your Diet
It’s important to understand that one single food won’t dictate the quality of your diet. However, it’s common to see people have a diet of where a large portion of their calories come from refined and processed foods that often lead to deficiencies in nutrients, which can ultimately lead to hormone imbalance.
Refined foods rarely contain magnesium, vitamin B, and bioavailable zinc and iron, and is therefore key to ensure the majority of your diet is sourced from whole foods. Animal proteins also contain omega-3 fat DHA, creatine, vitamin B12, vitamin D and carnosine that is difficult to obtain from sources other than supplements.
It’s important to note that moderation is key, as with most things in life, and even things like artificial sugars that you might think is safe due to the lack of calories, can have the effect of disrupting the bacteria in your gut that can have domino effects you might not even know is causing!
4. Use Supplements To Fill Your Nutrient Gaps
While ideal to be getting all your micronutrient needs from foods, it sometimes is the case that you may need to supplement, and that’s no issue. Sometimes hormonal imbalances such as high cortisol levels from stress that could affect sleep or fat loss can be addressed by magnesium supplementation. Thyroid and insulin management can be improved through vitamin D supplementation, and the list goes on.
Calories Aren’t Always Everything
While calories in versus calories out will ultimately determine whether you gain or lose fat, understand that what you put into your body can alter the calories out equation through a disruption in hormone balance. Eating a balanced diet will be key and applying moderation will be important to ensure you aren’t creating a negative environment for your endocrine system.