Let’s get on the same page: fat loss is about hormones. We dramatically influence our hormones with the foods we eat.
Food is information. Everything you eat communicates a message to your hormones. Your hormones message you back. There is a constant dialogue happening in your body & I want to help you direct the conversation.
See, it is your hormones that signal whether or not FAT LOSS is allowed. Only under certain hormonal conditions will your body allow fat burning.
We can create those hormonal conditions with our food choices. We can prevent those hormonal conditions with our food choices.
If you want a free, detailed overview of the relationship between insulin & fat loss and specific, actionable strategies for naturally controlling insulin, you can download them for free by clicking below. This is a 5 page excerpt from my ebook on how to balance hormones for fat loss and I am certain you’ll find some strategies you can put to work for you!
In today’s post, I want to hit the highlights & talk about 2 of the most important hormones for fat loss, what they do & how we can manage them via our food & lifestyle choices.
Insulin is a critical fuel delivery hormone. Insulin is appropriately referred to as the “master fat loss hormone” and is dramatically influenced by our food choices.
Let’s take a look at what insulin does, how it works & how it impacts fat loss.
Think of insulin as an usher. It responds to fuel (nutrients) in the blood stream & ushers them to the cells to be used as fuel or stored. Without insulin, your cells would starve.
The presence of elevated insulin levels tells the body, “There’s plenty of fuel. I’m finding a place for it to go. Don’t add more fuel into the pipeline.”
Insulin’s message of “there’s plenty of fuel” temporarily prevents fat burning.
Think about it – when there is fuel in the blood & insulin is busy finding a place for it to go, why would the body break down body fat? It won’t!
Body fat is burned in response to a lack of fuel in the blood. Body fat is burned to give the body needed energy. The presence of insulin prevents fat burning because extra fuel is not needed.
Fuel storage and fuel breakdown are opposites. They don’t happen at the same time, just like you can’t throw a ball up and down simultaneously.
Insulin puts the body in fuel storage mode. Fat burning is a fuel breakdown mode. They cannot and will not happen at the same time.
That does not make insulin the enemy. Again, without insulin, your cells starve.
However, many people spike their insulin levels every time they eat. They will keep you out of fat burning mode.
We need to manage insulin via our food choices. The macronutrient that drives insulin most is carbohydrate. This is why the right carbohydrate strategy is essential for fat loss. That’s not suggesting we need to eliminate carbohydrates – I do not believe that at all. We do, however, need to focus on:
Eating fat, protein & fiber from non starchy vegetables with meals and snacks.
For more detailed information on how insulin works & how you can avoid having it impair your fat burning, download the free insulin overview & guide. Implementing these strategies will help you increase your energy, accelerate your fat loss & decrease cravings.
Cortisol is another critical hormone when it comes to how we can balance hormones for fat loss. Cortisol is one of many stress hormones & works very closely with insulin.
One of the primary reasons that cortisol impacts insulin is due to the type of hormone it is – it belongs to a class of hormone known as glucocorticoids.
What word do you see in there? “Gluco” refers to cortisol’s ability to increase blood sugar independent of what you eat!
Yup, when cortisol is elevated, it can break down proteins in your body to form glucose, elevating blood sugar (even if you aren’t eating carbs!)
This is actually part of your body’s natural survival mechanisms but our diet & lifestyle may cause it to work against us.
See, in times of physical stress or danger, your body wants to make sure extra glucose gets to your muscles so you can escape danger.
Unfortunately, many of us live in perpetual states of physical and/or emotional stress and therefore our cortisol levels are on overdrive, increasing our blood sugar & elevating insulin (keeping us out of fat burning mode.)
To help control cortisol & prevent it from impairing your fat burning potential, consider the following:
Practice relaxation and/or meditation
Limit “chronic cardio” styles of exercise like distance running
Do not eat within a couple hours of bedtime
Get plenty of sleep
Avoid sugar & processed foods
There are many hormones involved in the fat burning process but you don’t need to know & do everything. You only need to know & do the highest impact things. This free insulin overview & guide will tell you everything you need to know & do without overwhelming you will all you don’t!
In today’s episode we’re talking about water: why we need it and how it can hurt us. Yup, we’re taking a deep dive into water quality, why we need water filters, what’s very likely in our water and how we can protect our health with a high quality water filter.
Hey friends! So here’s the deal: my good buddy Keri Mantie and I hosted a webinar and the feedback was awesome! Many people felt like we really understood them, we understood their struggles and challenges and were excited about the healthier, sustainable approach we shared with them. The real takeaway of the webinar is pretty straight forward. Most people go about weight loss from a “decision” standpoint instead of a “habit” standpoint. You set out to do this, that and the other thing. You battle against temptation and you try to harness every ounce of willpower you have. What happens? You burn out. You exhaust your willpower and after a few days, weeks, or months you find yourself right back where you started with the your old, less than healthy habits. Why does that happen? Because we never take the time to build habits. The approach I take with my 1:1 clients and the approach Keri and I are teaching in our new program is based on implementing ONE change at a time. We encourage you to practice it every day. Practice, practice, practice. It’s just one thing, so practice it on your good days, your bad days, your stressful days and your busy days. Over time, it becomes effortless. It’s a part of your routine just like having a cup of coffee or locking the door as you leave the house. Once it is a habit, guess what? It takes FAR less energy and effort. It is easy. THEN we add more. Then we identify the next high impact activity and we follow the same process. Using your willpower is exhausting. It’s not sustainable. Establishing habits frees you from that process and that’s why Keri and I used that as the foundation for our new fat loss habit implementation program.
Obviously we don’t want anybody to be left out so I’ve created a nifty little blog post for ya with the webinar recording (we started the recording right after our intros). If you have ever wondered why you aren’t getting results or have ever felt tired of bouncing back and forth between “strict pursuit” and “total avoidance” you’ve gotta check this out. If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to ask! That’s why I’m here!
It’s worth watching – it could save you years of yo-yo dieting and money wasted on ineffective, unsustainable diet plans!
I get a ton of questions about gluten and weight loss. I wrote about it here but I felt like I needed to take a deeper dive and consider not just the fat loss implications but also the overall health implications. I could sum it up pretty simply: we don’t need to eat gluten. It isn’t providing any nutritive value that we can’t get from other foods that don’t carry the same potential adverse health effects. With that said, there are a lot of tasty foods that contain gluten and many people don’t want to miss out on things like bread and pasta unless they really have to. I get it. I really do. And if ever make my way back to Italy I certainly won’t skip the pasta out of fear of gluten. But….we need to understand the risks. We need to understand what gluten is, what it does in the body, the potential health risks and how gluten impacts our ability to burn fat and reach our health goals.
If I were to take it only a little bit further and make a recommendation without diving into the nuts and bolts of gluten, digestion, & inflammation, I would say this: your body holds the answer to what you should do about gluten. Your body is the most powerful resource there is. Not science, not blogs, not expert opinions, just your body. Some of you might already know that you have an adverse reaction to gluten. You might experience bloating, fatigue, acne or joint pain when you consume gluten. For you, it’s a no brainer. Avoid it. But for others, you might not know if gluten is a problem for you. Maybe you’ve lived for so long with chronic fatigue that you just think it’s your body’s standard operating procedure. Or maybe that eczema you’ve had just seems like your lot in life and you have no idea that it’s actually tied to your dietary habits. There’s no harm in eliminating gluten for 1-2 weeks and monitoring how you feel. That will provide you with every answer you need and will prove to be far more valuable than anything I could write here or any research you could find. Pay attention to how the elimination impacts your hunger, cravings, mood, bloating, body weight, fat loss, skin health, respiratory health, focus, attention span….Just start paying attention. If you feel a lot better then there is your answer. You don’t need to add it back in. If you aren’t really sure, slowly add in a small amount and monitor how you feel. Assess any changes. That is really the most impactful way to assess your own body and what is best for you. The only information that matters is the information your body will provide you.
I feel like I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t say that just because you don’t feel symptoms of gluten sensitivity doesn’t mean that you aren’t gluten sensitive and doesn’t mean that gluten isn’t potentially causing a problem within your body. Gluten could create a problem that you just can’t feel yet. Here’s a good example: There’s been a lot of research demonstrating that consuming gluten increases the presence of an enzyme called “zonulin”. Zonulin is in charge of your intenstinal permeability – determining what is allowed to pass through your intestinal walls. Now, if something gets through that isn’t supposed to, that can be bad news for your health. Your body can launch a counter attack, identifying that foreign substance and creating an immune response to annihilate it. Elevated levels of zonulin are associated with higher incidences of auto-immune diseases – diseases of the immune system that can potentially originate from excessive intensintal permeability – stuff getting through that shouldn’t. It might take years for you to feel that or experience those impacts.
Gluten consumption can also decrease blood flow to areas of your brain – specficially to the frontal and prefrontal cortex – parts of the brain that allow you to focus, manage emotions, plan/organize, and understand the consequences of your actions. It’s this particular mechanism – this impaired blood flow to the brain – that is the focus of a lot of research on why people with autism or ADHD often see major improvements when they remove gluten from their diets. (By the way, next time I do something stupid or that I regret I might totally blame it on gluten….just saying…it’s worth a shot?)
So what is gluten and where is it? Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barely, rye and other grains. So essentially, it is a protein found in many carbohydrates and almost all processed foods. Due to modern food processing, it’s also in most oat products. Knowing how widespread gluten is, you might be wondering why it seems like gluten is “all of a sudden” a problem. Well, its really just about how much more gluten we’re exposed to over the last 20 or so years with the advent and infiltration of processed foods. Gluten is in almost all processed foods and those are a staple in the standard American diet. It didn’t use to be that way. Our exposure and consumption are through the roof!!!
If you want to cut way back on gluten, the simplest way to do that is by avoiding wheat products & processed foods. That right there will drastically cut your intake. Completely removing gluten takes a lot more work. Gluten is in so many things these days! Seriously! Gluten is in salad dressings, soups, beer, grain alcohols, ketchup, sauces, spice mixes, processed meat & sausages, cosmetics…the list goes on! If it’s not a fruit, vegetable, non-processed meat or raw dairy product, you might as well assume it contains gluten unless specifically labeled “gluten-free”. A quick note about “gluten free” snack foods like cookies, chips, crackers and brownies: Gluten free junk food is still junk food. Just because it is labeled “gluten free” doesn’t magically make it good for you. Treats are treats, gluten free or not, and should be limited. I know, I know, that makes it really hard to eliminate. However, if you’re following primal diet principles – eating primarily meat, seafood, poultry, game-meats, fruits and vegetables, you’ll avoid it pretty easily. You can try to do this for a couple of weeks and closely monitor how you feel and what kind of progress you make towards your fat loss goals.
Remember – there is no nutritional advantage to eating gluten. The fiber, vitamins and minerals can be easily obtained via fruits and vegetables. That is now, however, an argument for going gluten-free. The best way to make that decision is by paying close attention to how gluten impacts YOUR health and YOUR body.
For detailed information on carbohydrate strategies for fat loss including more on fruit, wheat, oats, gluten plus strategies for improving your carbohydrate tolerance, check out the comprehensive carbs & fat loss ecourse! Follow the link below and use the coupon code Primal10 to get lifetime access for only $69 (including troubleshooting help from me on demand!) https://www.udemy.com/carb-strategies/?couponCode=Primal10
I tried to lose weight for over 20 years. Sometimes I was able to but I inevitably piled the weight back on – always more quickly than I had lost it. I doubted my ability to ever permanently lose the weight and truly be healthy. I thought I’d always have to rely on gimmicks, tricks, crazy ridiculous diets or diet pills if I EVER wanted to get to a “healthy” weight and stay there.
In my late twenties I embarked on a totally different journey. I was determined to get out of debt. Between my husband and I, we had well over $100,000 in student loans and other small, miscellaneous debts – just over $130,000, actually. After reading a Dave Ramsey book, I focused on the goal with unrivaled intensity. We met, and surpassed, our goal in less than 2 years. Little did I know that the process of getting out of debt would teach me everything I needed to know to finally tackle my lifelong weight struggles. It’s true. The crazy parallels between paying off $130,000 and losing over 130 pounds are astonishing. Here’s what getting out of debt taught me about life and extreme weight loss.
Your habits catch up with you
Accruing debt is a lot like gaining weight or delaying weight loss. You figure its ‘just this one’ little expense you’re putting on credit. You’ll deal with it next month. You really need a new outfit for your class reunion so you might as well use the store credit card so you can save 20%. You’ll just use it this once. You go ahead and take out a little more than your financial needs for tuition – you’ll use it for books and maybe a plane ticket to visit your best friend. Just this once. Next semester you’ll save more and only take borrow what you truly need. You’ve exhausted your budget for the month but you really want to have a night out with your spouse so you put it on the credit card – its just one night – you’ll pay it off as soon as you get paid…
All those ‘just this once’ moments catch up with you. You can’t ignore them forever. They add up. In the moment, they seem like small concessions but five years later you’re looking back on a mountain of debt. Isn’t that true of how we gain weight or fail to lose it? We figure one cupcake won’t hurt. You’ll do better tomorrow. Then you go on vacation and you figure you might as well “let loose” – what’s a week? Your co-worker brings donuts in to work and you justify that one little donut won’t do much. Just like with debt, all those small concessions add up to years of damage to deal with. Your little habits DO count. Small concessions make all the difference.
A season of discipline doesn’t mean you’ll never enjoy your favorite things again.
We could not have paid off our debts without discipline. There was no way to have our cake and eat it too. We had to cut back. We had to temporarily pass up vacation opportunities or other fun things we might have otherwise been all about. But doing so for a season opened up many other opportunities that we wouldn’t have had if we were still in debt. The same is true of weight loss. Yes, you’ll have to be disciplined. You’ll have to be focused. You’ll have to say “no, thank you” to a few things. But it’s only for a season. Sure, you won’t ever be able to mindlessly indulge in anything and everything just like we won’t ever rack up 130,000 in debt ever again. But a season of discipline and saying “no, thank you” doesn’t mean you’ll never eat ice cream again or ever enjoy your favorite pizza. For years I quit diet after diet because I felt like I had signed on for a lifetime of deprivation and misery. It’s all in your perspective. A season of focused discipline opens all kinds of doors.
You can’t hit a target you can’t see.
Getting out of debt was a huge goal. We needed a plan and a timeline. It wasn’t going to happen overnight. We had to know where we were headed and what it would take to get there. I knew exactly what debt was getting eliminated next and approximately how long it would take to get there. I had to look at our budget and figure out what could be cut, what could stay and come up with creative ways to bring in more cash. Sure, the unexpected will come up but you must have goals. Without goals and a plan, not only would it have been hard to stay motivated, it probably would have been impossible to get where we wanted to go. Weight loss is no different. You’ve got to break it down into smaller parts. Establish small, short-term goals and focus your energy towards them.Have a long-term plan but feverishly pursue short-term targets.
Celebrate your progress.
I can’t tell you how excited I would get when I reached one of my small goals. I’d look forward to it for weeks and be over the moon to pay off a small student loan or get a car title in the mail. It was empowering and such a great symbol of the hard work and discipline it took to get there. It’s easy, however, to get caught up in how much further it is to go. Yes, the journey continues; the journey always continues, but you need to stop and take a moment to celebrate how far you’ve come. There’s no question that this is also true of weight loss. It can be easy to overlook your victories because you feel frustrated and discouraged by how far there still is to go. I get that. But I can also guarantee you that if you don’t celebrate the little victories along the way, you’ll really wish you had. You’ll look back at those moments you brushed right past – fitting into those jeans you love or getting under 200 lbs for the first time in years – and you’ll see how major they were. Celebrate your progress. Be proud of yourself. Allow other people to celebrate you. It all matters. It’s all a big deal.
Removing major stressors transforms your entire life.
When we were in debt, I can’t say that it was particularly stressful – we were able to easily pay our bills – it just frustrated me that so much of our income was tied up and we were unable to enjoy it. It was more of a nuisance than a stressor. However, the process of getting out of debt was incredibly stressful. At the time, my husband wasn’t really on board with the process. He didn’t like not having all the extra cash at his disposal to go play and have fun. THAT was stressful. When we paid off our debt, not only was that stress gone, but it eliminated countless other pressures and stress. Being unhappy with my job was suddenly far less stressful because financially, I didn’tneedthat job anymore. It was amazing how removing one stressor truly transformed so many other areas. This truth is magnified when it comes to weight loss. Being unhappy with your weight impacts every area of your life – your professional life, your social life, your marriage – you name it. Your confidence and your happiness is paramount. When you finally tackle your weight struggles once and for all it will transform your entire life in ways you could never anticipate.
Progress isn’t linear.
Yup, I’m a planner (everyone who knows me is reading that sentence laughing at what a massive understatement it is!!). I’d like to say that I laid out my plan and everything went smoothly from there. Of course that’s not how it happened. Things came up. Unexpected tax bills, medical bills, home repairs, etc. There will always be setbacks. There will always be things that happen and you can use them as an excuse to throw in the towel and say “well, this isn’t going to work afterall” or you can embrace the opportunity to get creative and find a work around. There wasn’t a single month in two years that went exactly how I planned but you know what? We reached our goals anyway. Progress is not linear in any area of life. Not finances and certainly not weight loss. The same thing happened while I was losing weight. I had a plan. I thought I knew how things would play out. But there were injuries, bad weeks, periods where my body just seemed to not respond to what I was doing. Yes, sometimes I wanted to quit. Sometimes I felt like it just wasn’t working and I questioned the point of it all. But that’s the way ALL journeys will go. Progress isn’t linear so don’t expect it to be. More importantly, don’t use that as an excuse to give up on yourself or your goals.
It’s a lifestyle
If I were to return to the same habits I had when I was in debt, I’d pile the debt right back up. If I were to stop using a budget, even now that I’m debt free, it would be pretty hard to avoid spending more than I make and I’d definitely have trouble setting aside extra cash to save and invest. Getting out of debt fostered habits that are now so deeply engrained in me. It is a lifestyle. Financial responsibility, spending less than you make, and assigning every dollar that comes in is a way of life. I will never go back. This is exactly what is required for lasting weight loss, as well. Sure, I can enjoy ice cream from time to time, just like I can splurge on a vacation or beautiful handbag. But those occasions are the exception, not the rule. Losing weight is about so much more than shedding pounds. It’s about adopting healthy habits that increase your energy, improve your move and prolong your life. It’s not a temporary way of eating. It’s a lifestyle. You can’t ever go back to old, unhealthy habits and expect to maintain your results.
Help yourself and then help others.
As we got out of debt we found that many of our friends and family members were also struggling. We have had countless opportunities to share our story with others and encourage them to do what it takes to pay down their debt. We told them what it had done for us and how we made it work. We shared the hard parts and the great parts. I know we helped a lot of people. I think we still do. The same thing has happened throughout my weight loss journey. As people saw changes in me, they wanted to know what I was doing and how I was making it work. I started to share bits and pieces of my story, offering whatever I could to those who asked. Now, sharing my journey is my life. I don’t want anyone else to struggle the way I have. I know that the more I help myself, the more I have the ability and the opportunity to help others.
Change is hard. Extreme weight loss is rare. Whether its getting out of debt, losing weight, breaking an addiction, changing jobs….its hard. It takes work. It takes discipline. It takes endurance and perseverance. But the skills you’ll learn along the way will be catalysts to achieve absolutely ANYTHING you can dream of.