Why can't you lose weight? Estrogen It's it's friends.
Do you find losing weight a bit frustrating? You do everything right but the scale won't budge? Did you gain weight for no particular reason and can't shift it? Are you getting steadily heavier despite eating less and less? Huh... weird.
There are lots of reasons a person may gain and may lose body fat. Everyone seems to want to answer the ONE reason: calorie surplus, inactivity, blood sugar, insulin resistance, eating too much fat, artificial additives in food, not being a vegan and so on and so on.
None are 'right' and none are 'wrong'. This article is not about the one thing you need to pay attention to. But it is about one thing that is usually overlooked.
The majority of the medical and a sizable chunk of the fitness community have been saying that body weight and body fat are controlled by a simple piece of math.
A pound of fat is 3500 calories.
A person needs 2000 calories a day, give or take.
A person uses 'extra' for exercise. Lets say 500.
If this person needs 2500 calories but eats 3000 a day then every seven days they will have saved up an extra 3500 and will gain a pound.
If the same person needs 2500 but eats 2000 a day then every seven days they will have spent 3500 and will lose a pound.
This is wrong on so many levels but it is nice and simple. Easy to understand and easy to sell. This myth drives the sale of nutritionally void treat foods that are "only 99 calories" and keeps people in gyms grinding away on treadmills watching the little calorie counter click up every now and again. Unfortunately the consequences of this thinking can be serious.
If you truly and honestly believe in the math guide to diet and are not losing weight then the ONLY explanation is that you are still eating too much. You would have to keep cutting and cutting until you couldn't get lower. Then you would naturally crack as your survival instinct justifiably took over and go on a binge or failing that you would effectively be on hunger strike and would get sectioned.
This cycle scapegoats 'willpower' as the one deciding factor in weight loss. Lean people are strong willed and fat people are weak willed. Fat people who don't seem to eat much are probably just telling lies and sitting up at night with big bags of chocolate. This is a wonderful stigma to have and not exactly helpful. Programs like 'Secret Eaters' and any other daytime TV diet show 'prove' this.
Any cattle farmer could tell you that adding estrogen to the animals food a few months before slaughter gets them to fatten up nicely without having to increase their food allowance. Some if not most pregnant women have issues will body fat during and after pregnancy. A lot of women will gain weight when they start to use the various forms of contraception available these days.
Estrogen is by no means the only reason that people gain weight but it is a very common one and unlike poor insulin or leptin sensitivity simply eating less problematic food won't make any difference. This can be very frustrating.
In case the men in my audience are feeling left out with all this talk of the pill and babies there are a couple of other ways estrogen can be found and can find its way into your body. Underneath are just a few:
- Most supermarket meat and dairy for the reasons mentioned above as well as because a cow who is producing milk has almost by definition got a high estrogen level.
- Soy products are just evil in general but also are pretty highly estrogenic.
- Pesticides are usually estrogenic chemicals. Any non organic food is likely to be covered in it.
- The chemicals that soften plastic are estrogenic so all packaged food contains some. Even bottled water.
- Water in general contains the estrogen that is passed in urine by all the women using birth control. It doesn't filter out well.
- Cleaning stuff... remember Parabens a few years ago? An ESTROGENIC chemical in shampoo that got linked to cancer.
It is simply in everything, everywhere in our lives. If you had a problem with detoxifying and flushing it out of your system you would very quickly build up a lot of it.
Now as I said at the start of this article, I am not claiming that this is the single most important factor in weight loss. There is no single factor.
Luckily the solution for the estrogen problem and the solutions for blood sugar issues, insulin resistance as well as a generally low quality diet are all very similar.
First off, give your digestive system and liver a break now and again. This can as simple as not eating anything for a period of time each day to more complex plans with certain foods being eaten or avoided at certain times of the day. I will go more in depth into controlled fasting and under eating/compensating soon.
Secondly when you are not fasting or according to your controlled fasting plan eat a lot of foods that help scrub the rubbish out of your blood.
- Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower contain 'indols' which affect estrogen metabolism positivly.
- Onions and garlic, contain an antioxident called flavonoid quercetin which inhibits the enzymes that make estrogen.
- Nuts and seeds, contain plan sterols which promote production of the more beneficial hormones progesterone in women and testosterone in men.
- Other green things, citrus fruit and herbs, an abundance of these will provide the nutrients required to detoxify the liver.
Thirdly and most obviously limiting or avoiding the foods mentioned before.
Lastly, everything else... sleep properly, relax sometimes, do some damn exercise...
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