Weight loss after 40: what’s Estrogen got to do with it?
There are a lot of misconceptions around health out there but for me, one of the worst is that fewer calories in and more calories out equals weight loss. This is NOT, I repeat not how the body works at all! On basically a daily basis I work with women over 40 who are working out over an hour a day and eating next to nothing with little to no change on the scale. And though some of them may feel well physically they feel defeated that this whole calorie lie is just not working. The truth is calorie count has very little to do with weight. What matters in weight loss especially for women are hormones. Does the content of our calorie intake affect our hormones? Yes, but its the source of the calorie, not the number of them that matter most.
To illustrate this let’s talk about calories for a moment. let us compare calories of 1 big gulp soda (about 650 calories) to the same calories of broccoli 🥦.
First, good luck even consuming 6+cups of broccoli. The bulk and fiber alone would limit you. But Let’s say you did manage to consume this much broccoli 🥦. The fiber would slow down digestion so much that the 650 calories would keep you full for hours. Your blood sugar would not spike and there would be no crash or crazy insulin surge.
Now let us talk hormones and 650 calories of soda. have you ever consumed a big gulp? How about 1-2 colas at a restaurant? let’s say it takes you 30min to drink down 2 sodas. In that time your blood sugar is going to Skyrocket and I mean really spike As there is no fiber or protein or fat to slow the digestion or uptake of sugar. There is really almost no digestion necessary to get that liquid sugar into your bloodstream. From there glucose spikes your insulin, AKA the Fat Storage hormone. When large amounts of insulin are made on a regular basis we develop what’s called insulin resistance, better known as Diabetes.
Hopefully from this illustration, you take away that it is not then calories that matter most but the way those calories affect your hormones. Insulin is very important when we are taking weight loss in general but when we are talking specifically women over 40 we need to talk about estrogen.
We all know her though few turkey understand her. Now please keep in mind we are talking women over 40 here who are unable to lose weight even though they are doing all the right things.
In my practice, I see this all the time and Estrogen is one of the common blockades I encounter. Many people think that as they age estrogen is constantly going down and that when you start having hot flashes, night sweats, trouble staying asleep, headaches, and crazy irritability it’s because estrogen is going down. In fact, most women are estrogen dominant. Especially in the Peri-menopausal time which can start anytime after 40 yeas old.
There are three scenarios that can make you Estrogen Dominant.
Estrogen is high and progesterone is normal: This is usually because of a congested liver, conscription, or high amounts of estrogen-like chemicals in your life.
Normal Estrogen and Low Progesterone: This one is very common and happens when there is prolonged stress and/or chronic fatigue. Other medical conditions such a PCOS and infertility are also causes of low progesterone.
Estrogen is High and Progesterone is Low: This is the worst-case scenario and unfortunately, I am seeing this more and more.
Here are a few Pro Tips to get yourself back in balance:
Support a Healthy Liver Function! The liver is responsible for processing estrogen and removing the old stuff from our bodies. I commonly use the supplement DIM in my practice with great success. DIM is derived from wild yam and supports phase 2 detox in the liver. You can also grab a good liver detox supplement for a more general treatment. In today’s world, there are just innumerable amounts of xenobiotic estrogens that we are exposed to on a regular basis not to mention other chemicals that congest The liver.
POOP! You need to have a healthy bowel movement daily to make sure you are removing the “bad” estrogen from your body. If this is not the case for you I suggest adding fiber to your diet. 2TBS fresh ground flaxseed is my favorite. If that is not enough to get you going add a magnesium 500mg at bedtime. I like the product TripleMag by Vital nutrients. If you have Been conscripted all your life.. let’s say you go over another day or every few days try removing all dairy for a month. I know, how do we live without cheese but believe me if you are trying to lose weight it’s not serving you anyway.
Hormone replacement. If you are waking more then twice a nice or at 3 am and unable to get back to bed. If you are waking up wet or have hot flashes during the day. If your mood swings are starting to drive loved ones away, you should consider talking to your naturopathic doctor or experienced physician about bioidentical hormone replacement. It is a safe and effective way to get symptoms under control while you work out the other contributing issues.