Stuck in a Dieting Rut? Let’s Find a New Way to Hit Those Weight Loss Goals
You are GORGEOUS.
So first things first, I think you are absolutely gorgeous EXACTLY how you are. No matter what number of pant size you wear or what that number on the scale is, you are gorgeous. But in today’s society, many of us have weight loss goals (myself included) and no matter how much we can be comfortable in our own skin or love who we are, we still may want to change a thing or two about how our bodies look. So my question is how many of you out there have felt like you are in a dieting rut? You have made great progress in losing weight and now have plateaued? Or you have tried dieting in general and never got the results you have wanted?
Well, I know I am going to sound like a broken record, but our hormones could be playing a role in it.
Most of the diet research out there is done on a male prototype.
Yup. That’s right, because men’s hormonal cycles run on a 24-hour basis, with more testosterone in the morning, so fad diets like Intermittent fasting do not work as well for women. In fact, because our hormones fluctuate throughout the month, causing different basal metabolic rates and energy needs, we are left out of these studies because could throw off any correlations that could be found.
That sucks, doesn’t it?
Luckily there have been some studies into how our hormones interact with our metabolism to have a deeper understanding of why we would throw off these studies so much. To keep this simple, I am going to break it into two parts.
Let’s talk about what our hormones and basal metabolic rate do each month.
For starters, who knows what the basal metabolic rate is? I sure as heck didn’t before nursing school! Our basal metabolic rate is the amount of energy needed to fuel our body at rest. This is different for everyone; which is why you can gain weight by just looking at a slice of pizza and your best gal pal can eat the entire pizza in one sitting and actually lose weight (lucky!). This is one key part of how we can eat with our bodies to truly nourish and hit those weight loss goals.
As a quick reminder, our hormonal cycles are as follows: there is the follicular phase (first half of our hormonal calendar) ovulation, and luteal phase (this comes after the egg has been reabsorbed into our uterus, getting ready for our bleeding phase). In the follicular phase, our BMR decreases and hits its lowest point about 1 week before we ovulate and increases post ovulation. What does this mean? While we are on our periods and the week leading up to ovulation, our metabolism is slower, which is why doing exercises that burn more calories will give you exercise and weight loss results you are looking for. Post ovulation, when we enter into our luteal phase, our BMR actually increases and for a good reason — we are getting ready to have our periods, which expend a tremendous amount of energy. So it makes sense that we have more cravings for chocolate and potato chips during this half of our cycle, our bodies are accommodating for the excess energy being expended to get ready for our periods. Our metabolic rates rise and so do the needs for our caloric intakes.
Now, I am not saying, go crazy and eat an entire pint of ice cream, pizza, and drink a beer. You won’t hit your weight goals if that is what's happening on a Friday night, but listen to what your body is craving… if it wants chocolate, grab a bar of dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa to alleviate this craving (I personally love taking some dark chocolate and dipping it in PB2 peanut butter… delish!)
So we’ve covered our monthly metabolism, now let’s chat about how our hormones play together.
Estrogen is high during our follicular phase, which affects what our insulin does to our carbohydrate intake and LPL (a fat storing enzyme). During this phase, estrogen causes our insulin to be more sensitive, meaning it processes sugar quicker. As well as opposes the action of LPL, causing less fat storage and more resilient to rising bodily stress levels.
Did I lose you? Come back! This simply means we can eat more carbs during this phase (YAY!) but keep it to the complex carbs like oatmeal, yams, sweet potatoes, whole wheat bread and pasta, quinoa, beets, and fruit.
Estrogen decreases during the luteal phase, which can be the culprit of our cravings and wanting to eat more. Studies have shown that women eat 90-500 calories more a day during this time, but remember, our BMR is also higher so we can burn them off, keep our weight consistent.
To recap: Carbs are a good thing during the first half of our cycle. Pile that plate high with whole grain goodies, eat lots of fruit, and dark leafy green veggies. The second half of our monthly cycle will have us wanting to and actually eating more, but that’s ok because we need more calories to keep our body running at rest.
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