All Posts by Kendra Perry

Estrogen Dominance – The Hormonal Condition that Causes Weight Gain, Infertility, Insomnia & More

 

Do these Symptoms Sound Familiar to You?

– Weight gain (that won’t come off not matter what you eat)
– Fatigue
– Infertility (you have been trying for year with no luck)
– Varicose veins
– Mood swings before or during your period
– Swollen or painful breasts
– Variations or skipped cycles
– Vaginal dryness or itchiness (it just doesn’t make you feel very sexy)
– Excessive or scanty blood flow during periods
– Cyclic insomnia & hot flashes

 

What is Estrogen Dominance and What Causes it?

 

Estrogen is a potent hormone. For this reason it should be cleared from the blood immediately after it completes its job. This is one of your livers jobs. If you liver is sluggish or congested with excess toxins, estrogen is allowed to build up in the blood. Too much estrogen can be a nightmare for many women, causing all the symptoms listed above plus greatly increasing your susceptibility to breast cancers.

 

Excess Estrogen from a Sluggish Liver, which reduces estrogen clearence: In order to detoxify appropriately the liver needs all the necessary co-factors including an abundance of proteins and vitamins. Your liver may be struggling due to a lack of co-factors or because it simply has too many other toxins to remove from the body. If estrogen can’t be removed, it recirculates in the body causing dysfunction. This makes protein especially important for the liver. B-vitamins, selenium, Vitamin E, Vitamin C and Vitamin A are also necessary for proper detoxification.

 

Environmental Estrogens. Unfortunately many estrogens come into the body from external sources. Personal care and beauty products are a huge culprit. As women, we rub numerous products on our bodies such as moisturizers, creams, body washes, make-up etc. Sometimes one of the quickest ways to lower your estrogen is to switch to a natural skincare regime. Estrogen can also come into the body from BPA plastic so make sure you drink you water out of stainless steel or glass.

 

Excess Phytoestrogen Consumption. Foods like soy, flax and sweet potatoes contain isoflavones which are considered phytoestrogens (plant-based estrogen). While these may not be an issue in small amounts, some people overdo it. This is common in women eating a vegan/vegetarian diet. If you eat a plant-based diet, be careful not to eat these things in excess (especially soy products).

 

Low Progesterone. Estrogen and progesterone need to be in proper balance. While estrogen is a potent, feisty hormone, progesterone is the mellow, soothing hormone that balances estrogen out. Chronic stress and poor diet can deplete progesterone causing estrogen to be dominant over progesterone. Your estrogen may not necessarily be high but if it is too high compared to progesterone, then estrogen can take over. This balance is important. Progesterone needs cholesterol to be made effectively (yep, I said cholesterol) as well as Vitamin A and T3 (a thyroid hormone).

 

Chronic stress. The adrenal glands, which make a significant amount of your sex hormones, also make the stress hormone, Cortisol. If you are chronically stressed (this is not only mental/emotional stress but also hidden internal stress) then your body makes Cortisol at the expense of your sex hormone. Progesterone is commonly depleted this way.

 

Birth Control Pills. The addition of synthetic estrogen to your body will boost estrogen. This is a common reason why women gain weight when starting on the pill.

 

Aging. Estrogen levels generally decline with age, especially during menopause.

 

How to Tell if You Have Estrogen Dominance?

 

I always recommend testing to confirm this. In my experience, testing hundreds of women, something I have learned is that generally what you think is going on with your hormones, isn’t. Even if you have many of the symptoms listed above, this does not guarantee that you have estrogen dominance.We are all unique and not everyone follows the typical pattern.

 

Never confirm estrogen dominance with a blood test. Blood can only tell you about total estrogen. You cannot differentiate from estrogen which is free and usable and that which is bound up in proteins (and not usable). The best way to check for estrogen dominance is a saliva or urine hormone panel. My favorite test for looking at sex hormones at the moment is the Precision Analytical Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones.

 

Luckily if you suspect you may have estrogen dominance but can’t afford testing, there is still a lot you can do to improve your situation.

 

How To Reverse Estrogen Dominance

 

Nurture Your Metabolism

 

Stop the low-fat dieting and calorie counting. One of the crucial building blocks for hormones is dietary fat. If you eat a low fat diet than you are doing yourself a huge disservice. Often times introducing healthy fat back into the diet is enough to jump start a missing menstrual cycle and boost progesterone production.

 

Making sure you are eating enough is also necessary for healthy hormone production. Starvation can act as a huge stress on the body, causing your body to pump out cortisol instead of creating those sweet sex hormones. You can determine if you are eating enough food by taking your waking body temperature. Take your temperature under your arm and ideally you should fall between 97.8-98.2 F. If you are less than that, eat more food!

 

Keep in mind that a consistently low body temperature can also indicate low thyroid. To rule this out, have you doctor do a comprehensive thyroid panel that includes T3, T4, TSH, rT3, TPO antibodies and TBG.

 

Keep Your Blood Sugar Stable

 

Low blood sugar can also act as a stressor and deplete your hormones. You can keep your blood sugar stable by eating meals high in protein and healthy fat. Don’t overdo it on the carbohydrates. If you feel “hangry,” irritable, dizzy or shaky in between meals than you will need u your snacks or eat more frequently.

 

Love Your Liver

 

Make sure you are eating enough protein. Ideally you should be eating 0.4-0.7 grams of protein per pound of body weight. If you live a sedentary lifestyle, go for 0.4 grams and if you are a high performing athlete, go for the 0.7 grams. Note that 100 grams of chicken does not contain 100 grams of protein. Read labels to determine this.

 

Make sure to include eggs, dairy (if tolerated), fish, gelatin and shellfish to balance muscle meats (chicken, lamb, beef, turkey, etc). Eating the whole animal is important. Don’t shy away from fat, skin and bone broth (my favorite!).

 

Reduce your exposure to chemical skincare/beauty products and household cleaning products. Check out the toxicity of your favorite products here.

 

Emphasize liver friendly foods like turmeric, dandelion, lemon, asparagus, grapefruit, watercress and radicchio.

 

If you are going to take a liver support supplement, make sure to take one that supports both Phase 1 & Phase 2. Many liver support products only include components that support phase 1 liver detox. Make sure you also see Phase 2 supports like sulfur, cysteine, methionine and milk thistle.

 

Reduce Stress

 

Stress can be caused by mental/emotional distress, lack of sleep, over exercise, poor diet or burning the candle at both ends. Take a good look at your life and see what you can improve. Sometimes small changes make the biggest difference.

 

Do things that you love. While meditation and deep breathing are fantastic, I believe one of the greatest ways to reduce stress is to have fun and laugh. So many of us don’t take enough time for ourselves. So stop being so serious. Get out there and have as much fun as you can. Do it now!

 

Do you struggle with estrogen dominance? Please share in the comments!

 

10 Ways to Get a Better Nights Sleep

We all know that sleep is important. Not only is it crucial to brain and organ regeneration, but it also directly influences mood and energy levels the following day.

 

Sleep is also crucial for your hormone balance and adrenal health. The adrenals do the majority of their regeneration between the hours of 10pm and midnight. If you are going to bed too late then you are missing out on this super crucial time.

 

If you have ever heard the saying, “an hour of sleep before midnight is worth 2 hours after midnight,” this is what that phrase is referring too. A lot of important regeneration happens during this time.

 

Not being able to get the amount of sleep you need is frustrating. Hours lying awake or continually waking throughout the night are situations many of us are familiar with, including myself. I have been a weird sleeper most of my life. There have only been moments in my life when I felt I was truly getting the amount of rest my body needed.

 

You know those people who fall asleep on a dime and sleep so deeply that they snore? Well I hate those people. Just joking. Hate is a strong word but I can say that I am incredibly envious of those people and wish I could be more like them when it comes to sleep.

 

According to T.S. Wiley, author of Lights Out, Sleep, Sugar and Survival, missing out on just 3 hours of sleep a night can make you as insulin resistant as a diabetic. Not only will sleep deprivation increase your risk of developing diabetes, but it also increases your chances of developing obesity, according to this study.

 

If you are like me and struggle to get those much needed zzzzz’s, here are ten tips which may help you in your quest for a better night’s sleep.

 

1. Turn Off All Electronic Devices

 

Our cell phones and computers are constantly transmitting electromagnetic frequencies. If you are in the midst of cell phone waves and wifi and whatever else, it can greatly interfere with your sleep. Even your alarm clock can have an impact on your sleep quality.

 

Seriously.

 

Turn off your computer. Put your phone in airplane mode. Get rid of that electric blanket. Get a battery powered alarm clock and stop all that nose flying around your head.

 

2. Get Rid of Bright Lights at Night

 

Let’s talk about melatonin. Melatonin is your sleep hormone. It is lowest in the morning and highest at night. The secretion of melatonin happens when the sun goes down and the sky gets dark. It lets your internal self know that it’s night time.

 

So if you are hanging out in a room with bright fluorescent lights, your body still thinks it’s daytime and melatonin secretion is inhibited. After the sun goes down, keep the lights low or better yet, use candles. Try to limit the amount of TV you watch or time looking at the compute screen. I suggest a no screens rule after 8:30pm

 

Instead of watching Netflix, you can read a book, go for a walk, hang out with your partner or play a board game.

 

3. Eat a Bed Time Snack

 

A lot of people will tell you not to eat late a night. This advice may pose a problem for those who struggle with blood sugar problems. For example, if you eat dinner at 6pm every night and breakfast at 8am then you are going a very long time without food.

 

A major reason that people have trouble staying asleep is blood sugar crashing in the night. Low blood sugar is not a great scenario and when this happens the body will use a number of things to bring it back up. One of these things is adrenalin which can effectively raise blood sugar but will also wake

 

If you are someone who wakes frequently during the night, experiment with having a healthy snack high in protein before bedtime. The protein will help stabilize your blood sugar and keep you asleep throughout the night. You may even want to experiment with keeping your snack next to your bed. When you wake up, eat a little and hopefully this should help you fall back asleep.

 

4. Take up Journaling 

 

The reason many of us can’t sleep is because we just have way too much on our minds. Whether it’s stressing over the events of the day or contemplating what needs to be done the next, sometimes we just don’t know how to hit the off switch.

 

I have found it helpful to journal before bedtime. It helps clear the mind and get rid of anything you may have been holding onto from your hectic day.

 

I also like to make my “to do” list for the following day. That way I don’t need to lie awake and worry about all the things I might forget.

 

5. Get Regular Acupuncture Treatments Late in the Day

 

This is one of my all time favorite ways to get a good nights sleep. While some people may not think getting needled can be relaxing, it actually is. The theory of Chinese Medicine is based off of 12 meridians, running through the body, which are connected to the internal organs and the emotions.

 

For example, the liver meridian is linked to stress and anger and the heart meridian in linked to anxiety. Too much of any of these emotions can affect the organs and their corresponding meridian. This can lead to imbalances in “shen,” the energy of our emotional body and sleep disturbance can be a symptom.

 

I have found getting a really good acupuncture treatment in the late afternoon generally induces great sleeps. If your acupuncturist has also been trained in herbs, he/she might be able to prescribe a herbal treatment that can help in between treatments.

 

6. Take 5-htp or Tryptophan Supplements

 

If they above 5 suggestions do not help you, it might be time to consider a good quality supplement. Many people try taking Melatonin supplements but I would caution against this. Melatonin is a hormone, and taking a hormone without knowing where your levels are at could cause hangover like symptoms the next morning.

 

L-tryptophan and 5-htp are the building blocks of melatonin. Tryptophan (the amino acid from meat products) is converted to 5-htp, which then turns to serotonin (your happy and feel good hormone) and finally becomes melatonin.

 

Unless you know your melatonin levels, it’s best to give your body the building blocks for this hormone and so your body can decide how much it needs. While you will need to figure out your own dosages of these supplements, according to Julia Ross, author of The Mood Cure, you can start by trying 500-1500mg of tryptophan (start at the lowest dose and work your way up).

 

If that doesn’t work, try 100-300mg of 5-htp. And if you still aren’t experiencing results, try combining the two. Play around with your dose until you find a combination that works.

 

7. Try Taking St. John’s Wort

 

If supplementing with tryptophan and 5-htp isn’t working for you, you can try adding in some St. John’s Wort. This herb has been used for centuries to combat depression because of it’s ability to stimulate serotonin production. And remember what serotonin converts to??? Melatonin! Yeeeah! If you wanna give this stuff a try, try 300 mg in late afternoon and 300 mg again at bedtime.

 

8. Magnesium Oil/Epsom Salts Bath

 

Magnesium is damn important. Actually, I might consider magnesium the single most important mineral needed in the human body. When it comes to sleep, magnesium is a powerful relaxant.

 

In fact, doctor’s use high concentrations of magnesium sulphate to stop some types of seizures. It relaxes and calms the nervous system, while promoting a healthy heart rhythm.

 

Unfortunately, this important mineral is also one of the most depleted minerals in our environment, so simply eating magnesium rich foods may not be enough. Another fact to consider is that it has limited absorption through the GI tract. The best way to get your dose of magnesium is through the skin.

 

My personal favorite is magnesium oil. I rub it on my feet at night, put some little sockies on and go to sleep. You can also try an epsom salts bath. Epsom salts is just another name for magnesium sulphate salts. Draw yourself a hot bath just before bed and this should help you relax and have a great sleep.

 

9. Heal Your Gut!

 

This one is not exactly the quickest thing to do but if none of the above options work then you need to  consider the health of your gut. Why? Because 80% of your melatonin is produced in your gut. Low melatonin production may be caused by a malfunctioning gastrointestinal tract.

 

If you are having trouble sleeping, you are likely also experiencing digestive problems. Maybe you are also experiencing some mood problems since serotonin is also produced in the gut.

 

How do you heal the gut? Time, patience and probably some professional help. Eating a real food diet that is right for you is of up most importance. Probiotics, bone broth and digestive enzymes will help as well. It might also be necessary to get a pathogen screen to detect any infections or parasites going on in there. This is why you will likely need the help of a trained medical profession or a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner.

 

10. Get Your Adrenal Function Tested

 

If all the above fails miserably and you continue to be sleep deprived, you may want to have your adrenal function tested. Having healthy adrenals are very important for good sleep. Adrenals have many life sustaining functions including producing the stress hormones (epinephrine and cortisol) and the sex hormones (DHEA, estrogen, progesterone and testosterone).

 

Malfunctioning adrenals can cause your cortisol levels to be high at night and thus inhibiting your ability to fall asleep. Adrenal dysfunction can also lead to an imbalance in your sex hormones. Deficiencies in DHEA, progesterone, estrogen and progesterone can all cause sleep disorders. Talk to your Naturopath or contact a Functional Diagnostic Nutritionist and ask about running Precision Analytical DUTCH test.

 

Now do it. Have a good nights sleep and be the best person you can be!

 

 

How to Make Nourishing Bone Broth

Bone broth is good stuff. Based on my research, I think bone broth may be the most important thing for optimal digestive function and overall health. Not only is it rich in nutrients and mineral but it’s super cheap and easy to make. You have no excuse not to include this stuff in your daily life!

 

Why is bone broth the shiznat?

 

Bone broth is nutrient dense, easy to digest and it also taste good. The stuff is super high in minerals like, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, silicon, sulphur, and much more. It also contains many healing components such as collagen, praline, glutamine, glucosamine and glycine.

 

The simmering of the bones in water allows these things, which make up the bone, to become infused in the water and bioavailable for you and me to eat. All the nutrients and minerals are amazing for healing the gut, rebuilding tissue, supporting growth and reducing inflammation. As far as I’m concerned, bone broth is an absolute super food.

 

There is no need to spend stupid amounts of money on expensive supplements when you can just have a cup of bone broth every single day.

 

Sally Fallon, founder of the Weston A. Price Foundation, believes the bone broth is not only necessary for adults, but it integral to the proper development of children and pregnant women.

 

The collagen and gelatin in bone broth are the source of the broth’s immune boosting properties. Collagen is a protein which is found in connective tissue. When the collagen is broken down, such as in the simmering of bones, you get gelatin.

 

What is gelatin good for? Dr. Francis Pottenger, a famous researcher, who did experiments with cats and the affects of modern foods on their health and development, found bone broth to be helpful with the following conditions;

• Helps reduce food allergies and intolerance
• Aids in the healing of irritable bowl syndrome, Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis
• Helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles and gets rid of cellulite
• Heals leaky gut and gut inflammation
• Promotes tissue growth, especially in pregnant women and children
• Prevents bone loss

 

Bone broth is a staple in traditional diets. It was considered a scared food because our ancestors knew that without proper nutrition, they would not survive. These days, people throw the bones away, often choosing boneless cuts of meat for convenience. Now you know something other people don’t. The bones are the most important part of the animals and you need to get some. The good news is bones are cheap. Since no one else wants them, you can purchase them from the butcher without breaking the bank.

 

If you order your meat in bulk, request to get the bones as well. You can go to any butcher and ask if he/she has some bones you can buy. Keep the chicken carcass when you cook a whole chicken. Order a whole fish and save the bones. Try to have a little store of bones in your freezer at all times. This way you can always have some bone broth on the go.

 

I like to add in veggies when making my bone broth. My advice is to save all the odds and ends when you cut up any vegetables. I usually keep the ends of carrots, onion skins and whatever stuff I would normally throw in the compost. I keep these stuff in a container in the freezer to use when I make a batch. This way you don’t need to spend extra money buying veggies to put in your broth

 

Here is my recipe for delicious and nourishing bone broth.

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7 Non Food Uses for Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is my very favorite. I am not lying when I say that I use it for everything. Right now I have a big gallon bucket of it sitting in my kitchen cupboard.

 

Coconut oil is an excellent cooking oil. Since it is mostly a saturated fat, it stays stable at higher temperatures. This makes it great for frying and baking. And I think it makes vegetables taste awesome.

 

Not only is coconut oil great for cooking but it also has a number of non food uses that you may not know about.

Here are 7 non food uses for coconut oil

 

1. Shaving Cream

 

This is one of my favorite uses for coconut oil. Shaving cream is not only expensive but laden with harsh chemicals that get directly absorbed into your skin and can end up in your bloodstream. Once chemicals are in your bloodstream they have the potential to affect every single cell in your body.

 

Since you absorbed at least 60% of everything you put on your skin, this is a legitimate concern. Coconut oil is great because it moisturizes your skin and makes shaving super easy as well.

 

2. Body Lotion

 

I’ll admit, it’s a little greasy as a moisturizer but I still love using coconut oil for body lotion. I find the best way to apply it is while in a hot shower. I then use a towel I don’t care so much about or a dark colored towel to dry off. This way some of the oil is still on your skin, keeping it all silky and smooth, but with out the greasiness.

 

3. Sunscreen

 

Did you know coconut oil has an SPF of 8É It doesn’t seem like much but it’s enough if you don’t plan to fry yourself in the sun all day long.

 

There are two types of UV rays; UVA and UVB. UVB is what allows your body to produce Vitamin D and UVA is considered to be skin damaging. Both can cause tanning and burning but UVB does so at a much faster rate.

 

While using commercial sunscreen will block damaging UVA radiation, it will also block UVB and compromise your body’s ability to produce Vitamin D. Vitamin D is a necessary hormone that supports the immune system and protects against cancer.

 

Using coconut oil for sunscreen provides a mild protection that will keep your skin safe while allowing you to produce vitamin D at the same time. And don`t forget, when getting moderate sun exposure, pay attention to signs of burning so that you can cover up or get out of the sun.

 

Commercial sunscreen is also full of carcinogenic ingredients that are known to mutate DNA and actually cause cancer. Switching to natural sunscreen is not only cancer protective by increasing your vitamin D levels but will  also reduce your exposure to toxic carcinogenic chemicals.

 

If you are fair skinned or have to spend long periods of time in the sun and need something more potent than SPF 8, check out CARROT SEED OIL 100 % Natural Cold Pressed Carrier Oil. 2 Fl.oz.- 60 ml. Skin, Body, Hair and Lip Care. "One of the best oils to rejuvenate and regenerate skin tissues." by Botanical Beauty""“>carrot seed oil which have SPFs of 25-50 and 35-40, respectively.

 

4. Sexual Lubricant

 

When it comes to sexual pleasure or even dealing with vaginal dryness, at some point or another most women will need to use sexual lubricant.

 

Unfortunately, most commercial lubricants are laden with chemicals that are easily absorbed through the wall of the vagina. Coconut oil provides a great natural alternative for sexual lubricant(and smells delicious too!).

 

Be aware though coconut oil may not be compatible with latex condoms. There is a chance that the coconut oil will cause them to break.

 

Also be wary that coconut oil may disrupt vaginal pH in some women. While coconut oil has anti-fungal properties (which is great for vaginas), it may also take some of the healthy flora down with it. If you notice any irritation from the coconut oil, consider using a vaginal probiotic cream to restore balance and lay off the coconut oil.

 

5. A Cure for Chapped Lips

 

At this point in this article you have noticed that a lot of commercial skin care and beauty products are laden with chemical additives that can have a negative effect on your health.

 

I think this is especially true for lip balm as it goes on your lips. Not only can it be absorbed through your skin but you can swallow a lot of those chemicals as well.

 

Chapped lips are a total bummer. Whether its from too much sun exposure, wind burn or harsh winter days, it can be hard to think about anything else. And it’s almost impossible not to lick your lips.

 

You can combine 1 teaspoon of coconut oil with 1 teaspoon of sea salt. Dab this mixture over your chapped lips and then scrub gently with your fingers. You can do this for a couple of minutes or until your lips feel smooth. Rinse your lips with warm water and dry.

You can continue to use the coconut oil daily until they are no longer chapped.

 

6. Eye Makeup Remover

 

Coconut oil is absolutely great for removing eye makeup like eye liner, mascara and shadow. It works quickly and doesn’t require much rubbing. You can dab a little coconut oil on a cotton ball or makeup pad and wipe around the eyes until clean.

 

This is a great alternative to commercial makeup remover which can irritate they eyes.

 

7. Dental Health

 

Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic dental technique that is used to cleanse the mouth of toxins and bad bacteria. There are numerous scientific studies that support this process and I know many people who absolutely swear by it.

 

It basically works by removing biofilm and plaque from your teeth. The bad bacteria get “stuck” in the coconut oil and dissolve. While some plaque is normal, too much plaque and biofilm can lead to poor dental health and even heart disease.

 

Oil pulling is simple. Put a tablespoon of coconut oil in your mouth and swish it around for 10-15 minutes. Make sure to spit it out when your done as it now contains toxins and bacteria.

 

You will be amazed by how fresh and clean your mouth feels after doing this.

 

What is your favorite way to use coconut oil? Leave me a comment below and let me know.

4 Hormones That Are Blocking Your Weight Loss Potential

Most people think that to lose weight they need to consume less calories and exercise more. It seems simple. Reduce food intake, increase physical activity and WABAM, you get to have the body of your dreams.

 

For any woman or man who has attempted weight loss with this equation, knows it isn’t that easy. Pounds often don’t come off the way one might hope. If the pounds do come off, keeping it that way for the long term is incredibly difficult.

 

Last week, I wrote about the Calories-in, Calories-out model of weight loss and why it fails in the long term. Check out this article to read more.

 

When is come to weight loss, we have a lot less conscious control then we think. The human body is a sophisticated machine. It is intricate and complicated and weight loss is not a mathematical equation.

 

What affects weight loss the most is hormones. Hormones are the messengers that dictate the processes which occur on a regular basis. In a recent online event, hormone expert, Dr. Sara Gottfried said, “Hormones dictate what your body does with food.” Interesting. Let me say that one again, “Hormones dictate what your body does with food.”

 

This is the reason you can’t lose that last ten pounds. This explains why even though you are eating healthy food in controlled portions, the weight won’t seem to budge. Obesity is not a condition of gluttony or laziness. It’s all about the hormones.

 

Here are 4 hormones that play a crucial role in your body’s ability to shed extra fat.

 

1. Insulin

 

Insulin is the hormone that allows sugar in the blood to enter into the cells for energy production. Think of insulin like a key to the doors of the cell. You eat dietary sugar or carbohydrate and your blood sugar goes up. Insulin then opens the doors to the cells and blood sugar enters.

 

This is all good until your blood sugar becomes elevated too often and the cells start to get annoyed by insulin’s constant knocking. The result is insulin resistance in which the cell doors no longer open.

 

If you are carrying extra weight, especially around the belly, then you likely have some degree of insulin resistance. This is because insulin is also a fat storage hormone. Excess sugar in the blood that cannot move into the cells, is taken to the liver where is can be stored as fat. It is impossible to lose weight when you have insulin resistance.

 

Solution? Cut down on sugar and refined carbohydrates like white bread, pasta, muffins and bagels. Research has also shown that drinking 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before a high carbohydrate meal can significantly lower blood sugar levels for those people with insulin resistance (1).

 

2. Ghrelin

 

WTF is ghrelin? Ghrelin is a hormone produced mainly in the stomach. When your stomach is empty, this hormone is secreted and tells your brain to become hungry. When the stomach is full, ghrelin is low (2).

 

Problems arise when ghrelin becomes chronically elevated. High ghrelin means you are hungry all the time. If you just ate dinner and you are already in the fridge looking for more snacks, you may have a ghrelin imbalance.

 

Elevated ghrelin may arise from chronic dieting. This may explain why it is so hard to stick with calorie restricted diets. Your body wants more food so it makes it impossible to resist food.  Another factor shown to affect ghrelin is sleep.

 

Solution? Don’t try to lose weight by eating too little. You may screw up your hormone system in the long term causing you to gain more weight. Make sure to get at least 8-9 hours of sleep a night, preferably going to sleep before 10:30pm each night (3).

 

3. Leptin

 

Leptin is made in the fat cells and tells the brain when to stop storing fat. The more fat you have, the more leptin you make, and the more your brain will increase metabolic rate to burn this fat. In terms of losing weight, higher leptin is better.

 

So why don’t the brains of overweight people get the leptin signal to stop making fat? Unfortunately just like you can become insulin resistant, you can also become leptin resistant. The more body fat you accumulate, the more leptin you have communicating with the brain. The constant influx of insulin annoys the brain and the brain stops listening. The result is continued fat accumulation despite the fact you already have enough.

 

Solution? Cut out the sugar and trans fats. Research has shown consumption of the two are associated with elevated leptin and leptin resistance (4).

 

4. Cortisol

 

Cortisol is incredibly important in the complicated fat loss equation. Since cortisol is a stress hormone, it is secreted when the body is under some form of stress. Stress hormones tell your brain that survival is being threatened. When you are in survival mode, your body becomes excellent at conserving resources, fat included.

 

Elevated cortisol is often at the root of weight gain. When cortisol is high, you carry excess weight around the belly. You may also feel frazzled, wired and overwhelmed.

 

Solution? Manage your stress. Go to yoga. Meditate. Breathe. Also consider looking for hidden stressors in the body such as leaky gut, gut infections, food intolerances and liver congestion.

 

Bottom Line

 

Hormone balance is important. If you are carrying excess weight, then you likely have a combination of the above imbalances. Low fat and calorie restricted diets may only serve to exacerbate these issues. We all know how to lose weight in the short term but long term weight loss is the ultimate goal. Figuring out how to balance leptin, ghrelin, insulin and cortisol is the key to getting fit and staying fit.

 

Stop Counting Calories! – Rethinking the Calories-in, Calories-out Model

If you want to be healthy, you need to be fit. To achieve this, you need to pay special attention to the amount of calories you are consuming. Unless you want to be a huge monstrosity of a human being, then you need to absolutely make sure you are always at least taking the same amount of calories in as you are putting out or less.

 

This is what most weightloss and fitness programs have revolved around for the past 50 years. As long as you burn more calories then you are consuming, or you eat less calories than you are burning, you will lose weight.

 

This all sounds pretty depressing to me.

 

It kinda sounds like obsessing over counting calories is necessary. Or I am doomed to constantly be hungry forever and ever and ever and ever and ever…..

 

Obesity is on the rise in North America. In Canada, there are 13.5 million adults (over the age of 18) who are overweight. This is up 1 million people in only 4 years.

 

Most people who are trying to lose weight are on vigorous exercise programs; doing cardio up for 4 hours a day and eating as little as 1400 calories a day. Sure some of these people experience success and drop a substantial amount of weight. But how many of them actually keep it off? Apparently 1 in 100 people who lose weight actually keep off the weight.

 

As a teenager and young adult, I was always trying to lose weight. I was always trying to eat less and exercise more. I thought that was the only way to be skinny. And to be honest my weight yo yo-ed, a lot. I would be really good for a while but in the end I would always fall off of the wagon because I was just so frikin hungry.

 

“Give me FOOOOOD! RAAAAAAAAAAAAH”

 

I remember one time thinking to myself, “Is this the way it is? Damn you nature and your cruel cruel ways!” I really wished I could just eat the damn food.

 

Well these days I think differently. I no longer buy into this calories in/calories out model of weight loss and health for that matter. I  believe that society’s strong belief in this model is one of the main reasons woman are so malnourished. Too much attention is paid to the quantity of calories consumed rather than the quality.

 

Let me put this into perspective a little bit. Let’s say you are a 20 year old female and by the time you are 40, you gain 40 pounds, making you overweight or obese. How many extra calories a day would you need to eat in order to gain those 40 pounds in 20 years.

 

So to gain one pound of fat it is said that you need to consume 3,500 calories. So to gain 40 pounds you need to eat 140,000 calories extra over 20 years. That equals 19.2 extra calories a day.

 

This is ridiculous. You better measure every single little calorie cause just an extra 20 calories a day could push you into obesity. 20 calories a day is equivalent to eating one extra bit of an apple a day. Something is wrong here.

 

How many people do you know who are always trying to lose weight. They are constantly restricting, and constantly exercising and their weight loss is minuscule. And what about your buddy who just eats and eats and eats and never gains any weight. If this model were true in every case then your first friend would be skinny and your second friend would be overweight.

 

Remember the definition of insanity? Trying the same thing over and over but expecting different results? Hmmmm

 

The calories in calories out model is based on the first law of thermodynamics;

  1. In a thermodynamic process, the increment of internal energy of a system is equal to the increment of the heat supplied to that system, minus the increment of work done by that system on its surroundings.

 

Most people simplify this to “Energy is neither created or destroyed.”

 

This law is true. I am no opposing the laws of thermodynamics.

 

What I do not agree with is that the body is a perfect thermodynamic process, with no other variables involved.

 

This model assumes that calories can only ever be burned or stored. And if a calorie is in fact stored, than it can only be stored as fat. I disagree. As humans, we have three different categories of things we can eat; carbohydrates, fats and proteins. This model may work for carbohydrates. They are either immediately burned for energy (as ATP) or they are stored as glycogen. But what about fats and proteins? The same is not true as they have many other functions in the body.

 

Proteins may be used to regenerate tissue or build muscle. Fats are used to insulate cells, are used as building blocks for hormones, support neurons and lubricate the joints. Fats and proteins are special because they can be burned as fuel, made into something new or used as structural support.

 

We should not assume that calories are all created equally. A calorie from a piece of grass-fed organic beef is much different than a calorie from a can of coke. Different calories from different sources affect us differently. Different macro nutrients go through different pathways in the body

 

For example fructose from the coke is mostly digested in your mouth and then heads to the liver where is can be burned as glucose, stored as glycogen or converted to triglycerides.

 

The protein from beef is digested in your stomach and will require as much as 40% of those calories just for digestion. The protein is broken down into amino acids which can be used in tissue building or processes in the brain.

 

Another problem with this model is it does not account for individual metabolic rate. Although, a human’s metabolism is meant to fall in a small range (basal body temperature ranging from 97.8-98.2 F), most of us are actually colder. If you have a high metabolism, you use calories at a much faster rate than someone with a low metabolism.

 

What about the starvation response?

 

The term starvation response or starvation mode is generally misleading. If you type this into google, you won’t find much except many blogs claiming to debunk it as a myth. This term is a lay person term. The scientific term is adaptive thermogenesis.

 

The starvation response is a set of biological and physiological changes that reduce metabolism in response to periods of starvation.

 

All animals in nature experience feast and famine. The starvation response is a integral part of survival in times when food is lacking. An animals internal system basically slows down in order to prolong the periods in which energy reserves can be used for metabolism. Of course, all animals need this for survival.

 

Some of you might think of the Minnesota study to disprove starvation mode. This study used 36 men and gave them 1,500 calories a day over a period of 6 months. The men did indeed experience a drastic reduction in metabolic rate but they did also continue to lose body fat.

 

But some other interesting things did happen as well. While the participants did continue to lose weight, once their metabolic rate slowed so did the rate at which they began to lose weight.

 

The men also suffered intense psychological consequences including hysteria, depression, hypochondriasis. One participant amputated three of his own fingers with an axe. All participants noted emotional distress, decline in concentration, loss of sexual interest, social withdrawl. Some participants experiences edema of their extremities. All participants experiences a pre-occupation with food, similar to an individual struggling with an eating disorder .

 

So according to this you can indeed starve yourself and lose weight. Of course, you must do this at the expense of your health, mental well-being and possibly your fingers.

 

What are the longer term consequences of constantly reducing your metabolic rate? This is something that needs to be considered. In the past I have restricted calories and in fact lost weight but I was very hungry, had intense cravings, felt exhausted and in the end I always gained the weight back, plus more. As I continued to attempt to lose weight the same way in the future, it became harder and harder to do so.

 

Millions of other people are having the exact same experience. So maybe this study shows that it is in fact possible to starve yourself and lose weight, but it also clearly shows that it is not a safe thing to do.

 

Do you ever watch the Biggest Loser? Those participants are put on a low calorie diet (1500 calories a day) and perform intense, long duration exercise. I recall hearing that they are in a 3,500 calorie a day deficiency. We always see these people at the end of their weight loss, all skinny and happy. But what about a year down the line? Are they still skinny?

 

Another thing to note is that participants experienced a preoccupation with food. All deprivation diets will cause this and eventually you will binge. Because the truth is you are not actually starving, there is food everywhere and your biological urge for nourishment will take over. When your biology shuts down impulse control, no amount of willpower can prevent binging.

 

Studies noting the adaptive thermogenesis phenonmenon have been around since 1902 when German Scientist, Neumann, coined the term “luxus consumption” to describe the adaptive increase in energy expenditure in response to overfeeding.

 

Many recent studies have measured and confirmed the existence of adaptive thermogenesis

 

A common misconception is that once you are in a state of stavation, you will cease losing weight or in fact gain weight. This is not always true of course. We can look at starving children in Africa to know this. The point is a calorie restricted diet will affect your metabolic rate, your ability to lose weight in the future and make your cravings do intense, you just can’t resist.

 

Your body is a system that seeks equilibrium. If you have been around a certain weight your whole life, this is what your body believes to be normal. This is called your weight set-point. Starving yourself for weight loss may cause you to lose pounds but your body will strive to get you back to normal. This explains why almost everyone who loses weight this way eventually gains it back.

 

And what about how calories from different macronutrients affect your appetite?

 

Carbohydrates are digested quickly and will have immediate affects on your blood sugar. Processed or refined carbohydrates will cause a quick spike in your blood sugar and then a quick drop causing you to be hungry almost immediately. Starches, from root vegetables, will do the same but at a slower rate.

 

Protein and fat is absorbed very slowly and will not have the same effect on your blood sugar. In fact, these macronutrients will stabilize your blood sugar and cause you to be full for much longer.

 

In this study, there is a low-carb and low-fat group. The low-fat group is calorie restricted, and the low-carb group is allowed to eat to fullness. It shows that the low-carb group experiences significantly more weight loss eating to fullness than the low-fat calorie restricted group.

 

Why Do We Still Believe This Craziness?

 

Well, I’m sure it doesn’t help when the well respected, Time Magazine, publishes an like this one in 2012. The title, “It’s the Calories, Stupid: Weight Gain Depends on How Much – Not What – You Eat.

 

Well, Time Magazine, I think you’re stupid too considering you completely misinterpreted the results of this study and reported it to a world of overweight and obese people who are literally starving themselves and destroying their metabolism using this method.

 

The article was based on this study, which aimed to look at how over consuming different protein diets affected total weight gain and lean body mass. All protein diets contained the same amount of calories but varying amount of protein. Low, medium and high.

 

Check out this figure pulled directly from the report;

study graph

 

It says that the low protein diet gained less weight (due to less muscle mass) than the other two diets, even though the calories were the same. All calorie intakes were identical but participants gained unequal amounts of weight.

 

I have no idea where Sora Song, editor of Time Magazine, is coming from. These results completely disprove the title of her article. Stupid.

 

I could ramble on about this stuff for days and days but I am sure many of you are wondering what you actually need to do to lose weight.

 

First keep in mind that calories do matter. It matters where your calories comes from. Think about quality, not quantity.

 

Choose real food. Get rid of the nasty processed, refined, artificial food.

 

Maybe consider a lower carbohydrate diet since it is the only macro nutrient in which calories-in, calories-out may actually apply to. Any weight loss diet should always cut out sugar and refined carbohydrates.

 

Eat a diet rich is healthy fats (butter, coconut oil, avocado oil, lard, tallow, olive oil) and lots of high quality pasture raised protein. It will keep you full for longer and be well used in your body.

 

Eat to appetite. Overeating is never good for you. If you have problems with overeating then you should look at what you eat and how it affects your future hunger. Refined sugar will make you crave more sugar. Anything that spikes you blood sugar will make you hungry faster.

 

Exercise but don’t go crazy. Focus on long walks, sprints, jogs, yoga, swimming or anything that makes you happy while you are doing it. If exercise makes you miserable, then I doubt it will have much positive affects. Do things that are fun.

 

Stop counting calories. Most food labels are out on calories by as much as 20%. Who cares how many calories is in your avocado. That avocado is good for you and is going to do amazing things in your body. Eat that avocado!

 

Are you in a metabolic rut?

 

You can determine this by taking your morning body temperature. You should be within the 97.8-98.2F range. If not than are struggling from a slow metabolism which means you will struggle to lose weight. Continuing to restrict calories in a metabolic rut will damage your thyroid. I recommend checking out Matt Stone’s blog, www.180degreehealth.com and maybe consider reading his book, Diet Recovery. It’s a crazy program but has helped many people get out of the metabolic rut and into weight loss by rebooting the metabolism.

 

Take Home Message

 

Just because your weight falls within a healthy range does not mean you are healthy. And saying that your weight is simply a measure of calories is an insane oversimplification. Focus on health, not weight and your body will find it’s balance naturally and keep it that way long term.