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Hormones and Weight Loss: Estrogen and Progesterone

Mar 27, 2015

Guess what? Menopause isn't the only time in our lives that we need to be aware of the effects of wacky estrogen and progesterone levels. In fact, women aren't the only ones who ought to learn a little bit more about these sneaky hormones that can really have an impact on our ability to lose weight and maintain weight loss.

Estrogen and progesterone are classically known as the female sex hormones. Although it's typically associated only with women, both women and men make estrogen. It's simply much greater in women because we have ovaries!

Let's try to keep this simple...

Estrogen, when in correct balance serves to:

  • Enhance femininity in women by enlarging breasts, widening the pelvis, and providing a curvy shape.
  • Stimulate the sympathetic nervous system
  • Increase mental alertness
  • Lower body fat
  • Protect against heart disease
  • Decrease likelihood of Alzheimer's disease
  • Increase insulin sensitivity and improve glucose tolerance

Now, if estrogen gets out of balance, either too low or too high, it can lead to several different physiological issues:

  • Too low (as seen with menopause)
    • Hot flashes
    • Night sweats
    • Headaches
    • Vaginal dryness
    • Mental fogginess
    • Bladder infections
    • Weight gain
  • Too high
    • Depression
    • Bloating
    • Pounding headaches
    • Breast swelling
    • Increased body fat

Progesterone is responsible for keeping estrogen production in check, by downregulating its activity. It's a happy hormone! If progesterone is in check, it aids in reducing anxiety and calming your mood. It also helps with sleep quality, which we all need more of!

When in optimal hormonal health, estrogen and progesterone are in harmony. It's of key importance to have your levels checked and talk with your doctor about your ratio of estrogen and progesterone--especially if you are dealing with any of the above issues. Below are some practical implementation strategies for keeping estrogen and progesterone in hormonal balance:

  • Maintain a healthy body fat percentage--fat cells secrete estrogen as well, so more fat = more estrogen production!
  • Avoid excessive caffeine.
  • Eat a diet with rich sources of good fats from eggs, butter, fish and poultry.
  • Ditch sugary, processed, nutrient-void foods.
  • Quit smoking.
  • Have sex. Yes, I said it! Skimping on sex will downregulate normal hormone production!

If you're still curious about estrogen and progesterone and what they do and why, feel free to send me an email or comment below. I love keeping the conversation going! Keep in mind I'm not a doctor or a diagnostician, so take anything I say as information to do with as you wish.

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