A few months ago, I wrote a post about my getting back into the rhythm of exercising after I had deducted that my newfound five pounds had attached themselves to me because of all the sitting I was doing while working on my books. After so many weeks went by and my basic 1500 calorie a day eating plan had never changed, and with my now added back prior exercise routine, I noticed some tone coming back but that scale just refused to go down.
In frustration, I turned to my doctors, because I was lost for answers why those stubborn pounds refused to leave. I had never had this problem when I couldn’t just take off a few pounds until the past year. My diet never changed, I don’t eat junk food, dairy, wheat or gluten. I was determined to find out what the heck was going on with my body. I was getting annoyed with my ever-accumulating baby muffin tops.
It wasn’t to hard for me to suspect that this little mystery began just over a year ago; about a year after my ‘hot flashes’ dissipated. I mean, yikes, I wrote a book about the symptoms of menopause, so it wasn’t as though I didn’t know where this new problem stemmed from, but I needed to find a way to conquer it.
I had so many tests done, from ultra sounds to xrays, and trays of bloodwork done to make sure there wasn’t anything else funky going on. Thankfully, nothing serious showed up but I was sure that my hormones were out of whack.
My doctor suggested a different eating plan, which I tried to no avail. My inner self kept telling me that my internal furnace had somehow run out of fuel. My once ample supply of estrogen kept my metabolism running efficiently. Once our estrogen begins to wave good-bye, lots of things begin to slow down and often, cortisol production rises and stubbornly reacts with our insulin levels. It’s a chain reaction of who’s the bad guy, and who do I try to control first.
I’m not a big carb eater, but I normally always ate some healthy carbs with every meal. I began thinking that somehow these carbs were becoming a problem for me because there wasn’t anything else I could pick out of my diet that would cause this slump in my metabolism.
I began surfing around Amazon and Google for articles on carbs and hormonal interactions. I found quite a lot of articles about that exact combination. Apparently when we’ve gone through menopause, many carbs become a barrier to proper insulin function and whammo, things aren’t fueled the way they used to be and fat cells begin to accumulate as a result. And yes, of course, around our middles is where it likes to make its nest.
As I mentioned in my latest book, Meno-What? A Memoir, raised cortisol levels equals belly fat. Our hormones have a myriad roles they play within our systems, and there is a wealth of great information available from doctors who deal specifically with these issues. It turns out that it wasn’t about how much I was eating, but when I was eating. The key isn’t about avoiding all carbs because that isn’t realistic, but it does involve specific carbs and eating every few hours, instead of three larger meals a day to keep our metabolisms burning. I had heard this theory many times—eat more mini meals, yet I wasn’t interested until I came across two fascinating books by Dr. Natasha Turner, who just happens to be a naturopathic doctor right here in my hometown.
Dr. Turner first wrote The Hormone Diet and after that was The Super-Charged Hormone Diet and finally after that The Carb Sensitivity Program. I read the last two of her books and I can tell you that I got a real education. I figured out exactly what’s been going on inside my body. Her hormone book describes everything that is going on with every part of our hormonal system, how it gets disrupted by food and how to repair our systems. It’s not a diet, rather an eating plan which involves starting out for a week with no carbs from grains, starches or legumes, but you are still allowed all your non-starchy vegetables and almost all fruits. Gradually, every week you add a new carb to test your reaction to it. This goes on for four phases in the hormone book and six with her carb book. Her hormone diet and her carb sensitive eating plan are almost similar in eating structure, so I followed her plan with a bit of tweaking from eating plans between her two books. Don’t get me wrong here, there are still plenty of things you can eat and quite frankly, the book will tell you, and so will I, that you will find you aren’t hungry. In fact the beginning was very difficult for me because the thought of eating every two to three hours was almost nauseating to me when I just didn’t feel like eating. I have always been the type of person who ate a small breakfast and many times didn’t eat again until dinner.
Although some of the rules of this eating plan didn’t appeal to me, neither did the muffin pad resting around my waistline, so I was willing to commit to the plan. It wasn’t difficult to surrender my starches, but breakfasts were strange without my toast.
It’s now been just over a week, and in case you may be wondering if the scale finally moved, here’s my update:
I will admit, the first few days, I felt strangely tired, bloated and nauseous for some reason, but by day five I felt fine. When the two to three hour mark came time for me to eat a meal or a snack, I sometimes gagged at the thought of eating, but forced myself to do so. Did I follow it to the letter? No, but I did follow the concept and I never cheated with carbs. I really got an understanding of the concept that if we put carbs in our bodies (starches, grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes), we must always add protein to counteract the insulin spike that carbs induce, which in turn will halt our metabolism, even in the healthiest functioning bodies. Protein is the balancer of those carbs and the fuel that helps burn them off. By eating every two to three hours, we keep our metabolisms (our furnace) fueled to run efficiently. When we don’t eat for hours at a stretch continuously, our bodies get used to the few calories it’s taken in and recognize our body as in a starvation mode, thus slowing down the burn to conserve what little calories we have ingested.
I always understood this theory, but I refused to apply it because I couldn’t wrap my head around eating five times a day. But I have to say, IT WORKS! And, as for worrying about eating too much, I found that I couldn’t overeat because I wasn’t hungry because eating enough protein really satisfies our appetites. I was eating to sustain myself not because I was hungry.
So after one week of eating basically the same amount of calories that I was previously eating, only eating more often and less carbs, I finally lost three and a half pounds. I no longer feel bloated and actually feel a lot better. I am now a believer of the scientific theory that eating smaller meals more often can really make a difference.
I’m in week two of this plan, which will consequently become my new way of eating. I will keep you posted on my progress!
If anyone is interested in more detail to the concept of losing weight by eating more frequently and exercising with resistance weight, please take a look at this fabulous article written by my friend and author, Elaine Mansfield. Click here for the article.
15 thoughts on “Supercharging my Hormones”
My sister, nurse Jan, has told me, “Always keep the furnace stoked.” So I try to eat 4-5 times per day instead of just the basic three. I’m not losing weight, but I’m not gaining either. How I empathize, though, with the struggle!
Thanks for your input Marian. It really is interesting to learn how others deal with the ‘burning embers’ of our metabolisms. 🙂 I can only speak from my experience, by adjusting your carb to protein ratios, it can help get the furnace fueled. This book makes a lot of sense.
So interesting. I was diagnosed about 3 years ago as borderline diabetic, even though I am actually not overweight. My provider referred to it as “carb abuse” and I had to admit she was right. As a mom-on-the-go, it was so much easier to skip breakfast, grab a granola bar for a quick snack than to take 10 minutes to scramble up some eggs.
I’m a huge carb lover, which is my biggest downfall. But, once I curtailed the carbs and introduced more protein, I noticed a huge difference. Not so much in my weight, but with my health — I stopped getting colds and flus! To me, that’s just as much of a benefit as weight loss.
Good luck with your plan!
Thanks for the feedback Kate. It absolutely makes sense. These books are a wealth of knowledge explaining in detail how each hormone is affected by the carbs. I’m glad you’ve also found a healthier way! 🙂
healthy food and sports, so bonne continuation, Debby! 🙂
Thanks for visiting Melanie. 🙂
Go, Debby. Two things contributed to weight gain after my husband’s death–I stopped strength training and I ate comfort carbs at night. I now eat a balanced diet with tons of vegetables and lots of protein and no nighttime carbs, but this isn’t enough to take off the 10 lbs I gained in the last 6 years. After menopause, I had to eat less and less to keep my weight down. Previously successful dieting didn’t work, not even when combined with vigorous aerobic exercise, something I’ve done for many years. This is more true now that I’m in my late 60s. When my muscles are strong–and they get strong when I strength train just 40 minutes twice a week–my metabolism cooks. I have more energy, I lose weight if I need to without going hungry (I wrote an article called Strong Women Don’t Starve (ihttp://elainemansfield.com/womens-health/strong-women-dont-starve/). I don’t strength train with tiny dumbbells or carry weights when I take a walk. I do loaded exercises like squats and deadlifts, dips, and rows that use big muscle groups. I increase the load over time and use excellent safe form. I taught weight lifting for many years because of its impact on bone health. Strength training is the best way I know to up your fitness, up your metabolism, and increase bone strength in a brief amount of time.
So, that’s my technique and, miracle of miracles, something in me found the will to go back to it.
Thanks so much Elaine for the details of your journey in the weight war. You are absolutely correct, just like I wrote, my previous healthy lifestyle and exercise were no longer keeping me the same as I was for a few decades. I was never much of an eater, but that was part of the problem, I wasn’t eating enough protein or enough times a day. I am still getting used to eating more frequently, sometimes forcing myself to have an apple and some almond butter in between meals, as I really am not hungry. It’s been two weeks and 4lbs are gone, yay. I think it’s slowing down because I really didn’t have that much to lose, it’s just that nast ‘middle’ I don’t like. So I will continue on this way and thanks for the link, I will visit that article you wrote. 🙂
I’m glad you found the article helpful, Debby. Abdominal weight gain (fat cells, I’m afraid) is most responsive to strength training. Read some of my other articles about strength training in that same area of my website. I think you’ll find the information helpful.
Thanks again Elaine, I certainly will!. 🙂
Great article Elaine, so informative. I have added the link to your post on this post now. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your wisdom. ❤
I’m reaching that stage, despite being a pro sportswoman 😦
I really don’t have anymore capacity in my day for exercise, so I’m heading on over to pick up those books and overhaul my eating habits…
Thanks for sharing 🙂
Glad I could help. Deb, I’m telling you, all the old tricks no longer work. Eating the same doesn’t work. This works! I couldn’t lose a pound all year, tried everything, until these books, 2 weeks = lost 4 1/2 pounds! Woohoo. Do yourself a favor and order the paperbacks. Definitely the type of books you want to keep referring to, especially the first few days. Keep me posted! Good luck! 🙂
Glad for you, D. It takes measurable progress to keep encouraged to go on. From all my studies on nutrition, I understand we need to listen to our body and not eat until we really want to – ’til our body tells us it’s ready. But you’ll continue to figure it out and stick with what works for you.
Thanks Diana. I’m a work in progress, lol. But it seems to be working for me. Who would have thought the problem was I that I wasn’t eating enough? Go figure! I’ll keep you posted. 🙂