Weight gain is no just a simple mathematical equation. Even though our current knowledge of weight loss is starting to shift, many people are still stuck on the calories in calories out method. Research has clearly shown that this method does not work. And even worse, it will likely lead to more weight gain in the long term.
You might have experienced this before. You can lose weight. That’s no problem. But over time the weight creeps back on and sometimes you end up gaining even more weight then you originally started with. What a bummer!
If you are gaining weight despite eating a healthy diet and doing regular exercise, it’s not because you are lazy or incapable.
Make me a promise. STOP beating yourself up over this. When we are unable to lose weight, we often feel like a failure. What many women don’t realize is that there are multiple factors involves in weight loss. It is NOT a simple mathematical equation. Your body’s ability to lose fat or gain fat is dependent on several metabolic processes, the food we eat, the type of exercise we do AND the type of environment we live in.
Did you know you can improve your ability to lose weight simple by shifting your environment. This is what I want to discuss with you today; a way that your actions might be negatively influencing your environment and causing you to gain weight.
You might be unknowingly sabotaging your weight loss efforts. There is one thing that women do every single day that almost always leads to more pounds. A simple change can increase you ability to lose weight AND dramatically improve you energy levels. I will tell you all about it in the video below.
Feeling exhausted, cold, backed up and carrying around a muffin top around your belly? If you’re answer is yes, then you might be struggling with a sluggish thyroid.
Symptoms of low thyroid include: constipation, fatigue, weight gain (despite eating a healthy diet and exercising), cold hands and feed and many, many more!
Thyroid problems are on the rise and effect women significantly more than they affect men. WTF?!
The result is many women are struggling to lose weight and have enough energy to get through the day AND they have NO IDEA how to fix it.
Unfortunately, thyroid problems are often under diagnosed. As lab ranges get wider, your thyroid markers have to be pretty freakin’ bad to get a diagnosis. Instead, many women are sent away with an anti-depressant or are told to “relax” and stop “stressing.” Unacceptable.
If you suspect your thyroid is malfunctioning, make sure to grab my FREE Sluggish Thyroid Cheat Sheet. I will teach you the signs of a sluggish thyroid, a simple at-home test you can do to identify a thyroid problem and finally, all the markers you need your doctor to run and where exactly your numbers should fall. Get that here!
Ok, let’s get to it! Watch the video below to learn 3 simple strategies to support your thyroid and finally start losing weight! Enjoy!
As you may have noticed, I am a huge supporter of the Paleo diet. In the past few months, I have mentioned this diet as a therapeutic way to deal with hormonal issues such as estrogen dominance and PCOS.
There is some controversy surrounding the Paleo diet. Proponents of this style of eating discuss earlier times in human history when people were healthier and free of degenerative illness. Many believe the Paleo diet mimics that sort of diet, when access to grains, dairy and legumes was limited.
This may be true but many dispute this, saying that our current diets in no way represent foods that were available in prehistoric times.
The truth is, I don’t care much for either of these arguments. It’s true our food has changed significantly in the past few thousands of years. Nothing we eat today has much resemblance to the foods that were available to our ancestors. It has been modified many times over to be sweeter, bigger and to resist disease. Replicating an ancestral diet is virtually impossible.
That being said, we can rely on certain principles that helped our ancestors to be healthy and free of many of the diseases that plague modern society. These principles involve eating real, whole foods, reducing sugar, eating free range meat, growing our own food and reducing processed food as much as possible.
The reason I am such a huge supporter of the Paleo diet is due to it’s therapeutic qualities. When it comes to hormones, the Paleo diet can be extremely helpful.
The Paleo diet eliminates sugar. Sugar has a significant effect on blood sugar. Yo-yoing blood sugar is incredibly stressful to the body and is a main culprit behind imbalanced hormones. The adrenal glands, which produce stress hormones, also produce a significant amount of your sex hormones.
If you blood sugar is consistently crashing because you are eating a high sugar diet, your body will be stressed and the adrenal glands will pump out cortisol to deal with it. Since cortisol gets priority over your other hormones, your sex hormones can become depleted.
Too much sugar can also lead to weight gain. Excess weight becomes an organ of it’s own because fat cells can produce estrogen and upregulate an enzyme the increases the conversion of testosterone into estrogen. This can lead to Estrogen Dominance. Sugar also stimulates testosterone production. Too much testosterone can lead to Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and prostate problems in men.
Soy is a phytoestrogen, which means that it is shaped similarly to natural estrogen. When consumed, phytoestrogens can increase estrogen load in the bloodstream. Excess estrogen can cause weight gain, PMS, menstrual cramps, ovarian cysts, and mood disorders.
Estrogen Dominance is a huge issue in both men and women. To learn more about estrogen dominance, click here.
Like sugar, grains & legumes have a significant effect on blood sugar. They are broken down quickly and do little to give you long lasting energy. As we know, fluctuating blood sugar levels have a massive effect on hormonal health and energy levels.
Additionally, grains can be irritating to the gut lining. Many health practitioners implicate grain consumption in the development of Leaky Gut Syndrome. Leaky Gut Syndrome can lead to GI infections, yeast overgrowth and autoimmune conditions.
A Standard American Diet tends to be high in Omega 6 fats such as canola oil, soybean oil, vegetable oil and other seed oils. Too much Omega 6 fats can lead to inflammation. Inflammation is an issue for most genders but for women it can increase premenstrual cramps and other PMS symptoms.
Too many Omega 6 fats can also negatively affect an infants brain during the last trimester of pregnancy, leading to decreased frontal lobe formation.
The Paleo diet encourages a high intake of Omega 3 fats such as coconut oil, animals fats, avocados and eggs which reduce inflammation and promote healthy brain development.
Conventional dairy products contain added synthetic hormones and traces of antibiotics. Synthetic hormones given to cows are still present in the dairy that you eat. This can throw off your own delicate hormone imbalance.
Antibiotic exposure depletes gut flora and increases the likelihood of developing leaky gut syndrome and other gastrointestinal issues.
In addition to eliminating problematic foods, the Paleo diet also focuses on including high quantities of nutritional foods; fruits such as blueberries are high in antioxidants, vegetables such as kale are rich in vitamins and minerals, and high quality animal products such as pasture-raised eggs deliver complete protein and nutrients different from those found in plants like choline, vitamin A, vitamin D, and vitamin K2. A nutrient-rich diet is critical for reducing inflammation, balancing hormones and having optimal reproductive health.
The Paleo diet is a great place to start if you want to significantly improve your health. You don’t need to get caught up in all the silly rules of Paleo. You can customize this diet to fit your needs. Some people can tolerate some grains and some people can tolerate some forms of dairy.
My advice is to start with the Paleo diet and all it’s restrictions for at least 30 days. After 30 days you can try adding some dairy or some grains back into your diet and see how it goes.
Watch below to see me talk about this article in a video!
The past few weeks on the blog, I have been writing about Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, a condition that causes weight gain, infertility, facial hair growth, acne and irregular menstrual cycles.
If you want to learn more about this condition and its risk factors, you can read the full article here. I also recently wrote about the PCOS diet, lifestyle and supplement protocol that can help you reverse this condition and boost your fertility. You can read that article here.
PCOS is generally characterized by elevated testosterone, irregular or absent cycles and cystic ovaries. But there are many women out there who have regular cycles and no ovarian cysts but are struggling with symptoms of high testosterone.
If you know your testosterone is elevated but you don’t have a PCOS diagnosis, you can still benefit from following the PCOS protocol. But what if your testosterone is “normal” and you are still struggling with the typical symptoms of testosterone dominance? These include;
This is an interesting thing. It is possible to have normal or even lower testosterone but also have a testosterone dominance.
Today I want to talk about testosterone metabolism. If your testosterone appears normal on a saliva or blood test but you still have these typical symptoms of too much testosterone than your metabolism may be to blame.
Let’s start at the top. Pregnenolone is your master hormone. It is the building block for all your other steroid sex hormones including progesterone, cortisol, estrogen, DHEA and testosterone.
Pregnenolone is derived primarily from cholesterol. Yep, remember cholesterol? The big bad cholesterol that clogs your arteries and gives you heart disease?
What the government and general public are finally starting to learn is that cholesterol is crucial, not only for hormone production but also for the health of your brain.
Without cholesterol you cannot make sex hormones. And without sex hormones you are in trouble. 75% of your body’s cholesterol is produced in your liver but 25% comes from your diet. Therefore, getting enough cholesterol in your diet is crucial to your hormones. Cholesterol comes from animal products.
Pregnenolone can be converted into progesterone which can then be broken down to produce cortisol, your body’s main stress hormone. Pregnenolone is also a precursor for Dehyroepiandrosterone (DHEA). DHEA can then be broken down into either testosterone or estrone. Estrone can then be converted to estradiol (your body’s most potent estrogen) which can be converted to estriol.
But hormone metabolism doesn’t stop there. Both testosterone and estrogen are broken down further into metabolites. Today we will focus on the main metabolites of testosterone and what this means for you and your hormone health.
After testosterone is formed, it can be broken down via two different pathways; the alpha pathway and the beta pathway. The beta pathway, also called the Etiocholanolone metabolite, is a less androgenic pathway. This means that when you metabolize your testosterone down this pathway, it reduces the effects of testosterone.
In this case, you could have high blood or saliva testosterone but if you push primarily down the beta pathway than you may not exhibit any symptoms of high testosterone.
The alpha pathway, also know as the dehyrotestosterone (DHT) pathway, is a significantly more androgenic pathway. This means that if you tend to metabolize more of your testosterone down the DHT pathway then actions of testosterone become increasingly stronger in your system.
This is because DHT metabolites bind about 3 times more strongly to androgen receptors than Etiocholanolone metabolites. 5 alpha reductase is the enzyme that pushes the conversion of testosterone into DHT. Everyone will push some testosterone down the DHT pathway but some people push significantly more of their testosterone in this direction meaning that their testosterone becomes extra potent.
What this means for you is that you may have “normal” or even lower testosterone that becomes increasingly potent as it is being metabolized. This is why your testosterone may look normal but your symptoms tell you otherwise.
There is usually an insulin issue at play. Insulin, the hormone needed to regulate blood sugar and fat storage, enhances the actions of the DHT pathway. The more insulin you have, the more 5-alpha reductase you have (the enzyme that pushes DHT production). Women with acne, PCOS and obesity have significantly more 5-alpha reductase than women without these issues.
Progesterone, on the other hand, reduces 5 alpha reductase activity, at least in vitro, according to this study. Often times when I see elevated DHT metabolites in a client, I also see depleted progesterone levels.
Being aware of the DHT pathway is especially important for those struggling with infertility (elevated testosterone is a huge cause of infertility in the Western world), acne and obesity.
If this article resonates with you and some of your recent experience, I recommend getting your testosterone metabolism evaluated. You can do this by getting a urine hormone panel. The best hormone panel that I currently run is the Precision Analytical Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones (DUTCH). This test will not only evaluate your testosterone metabolism but also the metabolism of your other steroid hormones including; progesterone, estrogen and cortisol.
If you are interested in getting a full hormone evaluation to get to the bottom of your ongoing infertility, painful acne breakouts, explainable scalp hair loss or your complete inability to lose weight, please schedule a FREE 30 minute consultation with me. You can do that here and choose the service labeled, “FREE Discovery Session.”
Blood Sugar Management. I feel like a broken record here but having healthy blood sugar levels throughout the day is not only important for your testosterone metabolism but is crucial for your health in every other way.
The Paleo Diet is a fantastic way to manage blood sugar. You should also consider buying a glucometer and actively checking your blood sugar throughout the day.
Before meals, your glucometer should ready 80-90 mg/dl. If it is lower than this, you waited to long to eat that meal or didn’t eat enough at your previous meal. Add more whole foods or include an extra snack.
The post-prandial measurement is a fantastic way to assess your carbohydrate sensitivity. If you are carb sensitive, the more carbs you eat, the more you increase your insulin and make it more likely have a testosterone metabolism issue. 2 hours after a meal, your blood sugar should be under 120 mg/dl (but ideally under 100 mg/dl). If you are above this, you ate way too many carbohydrates or sugar at that previous meal and you need to reduce accordingly.
EPA & DHA. These are fatty acids that come from Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. These come from cold water fatty fish and shellfish. I recommend supplementing with a high quality fish oil supplement derived from mackerel, sardines and/or anchovies. EPA and DHA have a positive effect on insulin and also reduce inflammation which can push up blood sugar levels.
Saw Palmetto. This herb can have potent effects on the DHT pathway. It effectively shifts metabolism from the alpha to beta pathway. Be wary that higher doses of saw palmetto can reduce DHT too much and throw of your testosterone levels. If you are using saw palmetto, you should be monitoring your levels regularly.
Exercise. Exercise is known to increase sensitivity to insulin. When your cells are insulin sensitive, you need less insulin. Less insulin has a positive effect on DHT.
Nettle. Stinging nettle tea increases Sex Hormone Binding Globulin in your blood. This can bind to excess testosterone and decrease the levels of testosterone that need to be metabolized, and thus reducing the effects of DHT.
Zinc. According to this study which was performed on human skin in vitro, zinc can have a reducing effect on 5-alpha reductase when used in combination with Vitamin B6. This is promising but there has been some conflicting research. Clinically, I see Zinc boost testosterone production and improve metabolism.
Looking at single hormone markers can be helpful but never gives you the full picture of what is happening. Just because your testosterone is “normal,” does not mean you are in the clear from the potent side effects of too much testosterone. If you are suffering from the symptoms elevated above but your doctor says your levels are “normal,” consider your metabolism. Click here to schedule a free meeting with me to see if comprehensive hormone testing is a fit for you.
Are you struggling with testosterone dominance or any of the symptoms mentioned above? Please feel free to comment with your experience below.
Leaky gut syndrome is common these days. It is a condition where the barrier system that protects the blood from the digestive tract becomes dysfunctional.
When a person is healthy, this barrier prevents certain things from reaching the blood stream. These include viruses, parasites, undigested foods and toxins. When the lining breaks down, inappropriate things begin to enter the blood stream where they can cause an inappropriate immune response and lead to inflammation.
Leaky gut is involved in food sensitivities, allergies and autoimmune conditions. If you want to learn more about leaky gut, click here.
I discover unhealthy guts in almost all of my clients. Gut dysfunction is something I always test for because it is so common. When the gut is unhealthy it can lead to a whole host of issues including blood sugar imbalances, neurotransmitter deficiencies, mood disorders, chronic fatigue and problems sleeping.
Gut health is a hot topic and people are always asking me how they can heal their guts. It isn’t always an easy task but success starts with having the proper information.
1. EAT AN INFLAMMATION REDUCING DIET
If you want to heal your gut, you need to reduce inflammation coming into the body. This starts with diet. Many foods we eat are inflammatory and can do some serious damage.
Some of the biggest culprits are refined and processed foods, gluten, polyunsaturated oils, alcohol, sugar, conventional meat and dairy products, grains and GMO foods.
Start by pulling these inflammatory foods out of your diet. Make sure to eat a diet that includes lots of organic vegetables, pastured eggs, free-range meat, healthy fats, herbs and spices.
The diet I most frequently recommend to my clients with gut issues is the Paleo diet. This diet omits much of the foods listed above and is high in protein which is critical for gut repair.
In situations where gut damage is more severe, I recommend the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol (AIP) which goes further to eliminate nuts and seeds and eggs. This can be very therapeutic for people suffering from autoimmune conditions. Here is a great resource for the AIP diet.
2. IDENTIFYING FOOD SENSITIVITIES
When the gut is damaged seemingly healthy foods can actually be quite irritating. The more unhealthy the gut is, the more food sensitivities you will have. These sensitivities are different for each person.
They can be hard to pinpoint since reactions to are often delayed up to 7 days. If the Paleo or AIP diet isn’t giving you the results you need, I recommend testing for food sensitives.
Many practitioners use an IgG food sensitivity panel to look for suspect foods. Personally, I am not a fan of this type of testing. In my personal research, I have not found many good scientific studies validating this type of testing. There is a lot of debate between practitioners and I have yet to make a definitive opinion on the matter
3. REDUCE MENTAL & EMOTIONAL STRESS
Stress is one of the main causes of leaky gut. How? When you are stressed, your body moves all your energy from rest and digest processes and into the skeletal and muscular system. This allows you to fight or flight from a dangerous situation.
Our stress system does not differentiate between different types of stressors. There is only one stress response.
If you have a stress response and you have food in your intestinal tract, it stops being digested. It is left to sit in your intestine where it is acted upon by bacteria and is fermented. This fermentation can damage the gut and produce toxins which then clogs up the liver. And if your stressed your body isn’t detoxifying either. This can lead to toxic build up and more damage to the gut.
We have a lot of stress these days and learning how to manage it is paramount to healing your leaky gut syndrome.
4. IDENTIFY PATHOGENIC INFECTIONS
Ongoing chronic infections are one the biggest blocking factors in achieving a healthy gut.
Most people think they are immune to infections because they haven’t done any international travel but unfortunately you can acquire infections even in countries like Canada or the United States.
We are exposed to different types of infections from parasites, bacteria and yeast on a regular basis. These things come from food contamination, unclean drinking water (some types of parasites can resist chlorination) or from poor hygiene practices.
The majority of your immune system in your digestive tract. When your gut is healthy, your immune system works well. When the gut gets dysfunctional, opportunistic species can easily make their home in your intestines. Some pathogenic species can travel outside the gut to other areas of the body.
Unfriendly microorganisms can cause toxic build up, inflammation and can prevent you from absorbing nutrients from the healthy diet you are eating. Just keeping these organisms in check is stressful to the body. Your body works hard to control pathogens and it drains your energy levels.
Chronic infections also lead to elevated cortisol which can suppress your immune system, cause insulin resistance, inhibit weight loss efforts and deplete your sex hormones.
Even people who do not experience typical digestive symptoms may still have infections. I find them in over 90% of the people I test, even those who claim good digestion status.
If you do not identify and eradicate infections, inflammation will continue and will perpetuate the leaky gut situation. My favorite test for identifying GI Pathogens at the moment is the Diagnostics Solutions Lab GI-MAP. Find out more about my experience with this test and how it helped me identify some dangerous infections in my own gut.
5. STIMULATE DIGESTION
Undigested food promotes bacterial overgrowth and fermentation, both things will contribute to leaky gut syndrome.
During any gut healing protocol, I recommend high quality digestive enzymes. The enzyme you choose should contain a broad spectrum of enzymes. It should also contain HCL (for protein breakdown) and ox-bile (for breakdown of fats).
Currently my favorite product for gut healing is DSL GI-MAP I mentioned above since it measures levels of gut microflora.
If you do not know your status, I recommend using a high quality multi-strain probiotic. You should take these at bed time and make sure to take them 2 hours away from food and any supplements that contain anti-microbial, anti-fungal or anti-parasitic qualities.
Currently my favorite probiotic products are Megasporbiotic and
Did you know that magnesium can help every cell cell in your body function better, boost serotonin, reduce symptoms of PMS, improve your stress management skills, help you get more sleep, and do all this without side effects?
Magnesium is amazing!
What Is Magnesium?
Magnesium is often referred to as the most crucial mineral in our bodies. It is your body’s most potent relaxant. It has been well researched and proven to reduce stress and anxiety, improve sleep quality, reduce migraine headaches, improve energy levels, increase insulin sensitivity and enhance daily performance.
Did you know that when pregnant women are having seizures, doctors inject them with magnesium sulfate to stop the seizure? That is how powerful magnesium is.
Magnesium is crucial for over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body, yet experts have estimated that up to 80% of the population is deficient in this essential mineral.
Magnesium deficiency has been linked to a number of symptoms.
11 Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency
The main job of magnesium is to produce energy within our cells. That means that every single function, thought and action is completely dependent on magnesium. With levels of deficiency so high, we need to contemplate our magnesium consumption and make sure we are getting enough.
How Can Magnesium Support Healthy Hormones?
What Causes Magnesium Deficiency?
Firstly, understanding what contributes to magnesium deficiency can help you assess your risk of deficiency.
Magnesium is burned quickly by the body to buffer and alleviate the physical symptoms of stress. It soothes the muscles and calms nerve impulses.
Since it is a water soluble mineral, it is easily flushed out of the body. If you are chronically stressed than there is a good chance that your magnesium levels are less than optimal. It’s important to be mindful of your stress levels and increase your magnesium intake during these times.
My favorite way to increase magnesium is by rubbing magnesium oil on my belly and feet. You can purchase this inexpensively at a natural foods store. Check out the Back to Eeden style of gardening. I just love this!
Sugars And Refined Foods
Magnesium is used by the body to breakdown sugar. This means the more you consume sugar and refined foods, the more you deplete your magnesium stores.
One of the easiest ways to improve your magnesium profile is to cut down on sugar and eliminate refined foods from your diet.
Vitamin D & K2 Deficiency
Vitamin D and K are crucial for sufficient magnesium levels. If you are low in either of these vitamins, your magnesium levels will suffer.
I recommend having your vitamin D levels tested to assess the need for supplementation. Request a 25(OH)D test. The Vitamin D Council recommends levels of 50 ng/ml for optimal health. You can request a test from your doctor or order one directly through ZRT Labs
If you do decide to supplement with vitamin D, make sure to purchase a liquid D3/K2 combo. Age
How to Supplement?
All forms of magnesium are not made equally. Oral supplementation is not the best way to get magnesium as up 60% is lost in the GI tract, even with the best absorbed forms.
My favorite forms are magnesium gyclinate or magnesium bisgyclinate. The cheapest forms of magnesium are the magnesium oxides. These are poorly absorbed and can often cause diarrhea. The best way to get magnesium is through the skin. I recommend magnesium oil or Epsom salts baths (or foot baths if you don’t have a bath tub or live in an area with water restrictions).
And if you live near the ocean, get in the sea!
Getting enough magnesium and protecting your body’s stores of it is an extremely powerful way to enhance your health and your life.
If you have been struggling with muscle twitches/spasms/contractions, seizures, anxiousness, abnormal heart rhythms, numbness and tingling or poor sleep, then give magnesium a try. It may be just what you need to get back on track.