Though you might blame intense period cravings on your hormones, those little guys also have the power to make you put down the Rocky Road, build more muscle during every workout, and rev your metabolism. So yeah, you might owe them an apology. Women's Health has the scoop below.
Here’s how to naturally boost your hormone levels and make weight loss so much easier:
1. Curb cravings all day long. Commonly dubbed the “satiety” or “feel-full hormone,” leptin decreases your appetite. After it's released from your body’s fat cells, the hormone acts on your brain’s hypothalamus, where it combats its nemesis ghrelin, the “hunger hormone,” says Alissa Rumsey, R.D., spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
In overweight and obese women, chronically high levels of the satiety hormone can lead to leptin resistance (the more fat you have, the more leptin your body will produce). But most women actually have low levels of the hormone, making you super hungry.
Your move: sleep. Sleep deprivation significantly slashes leptin levels, according to a 2012 review published in the "Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics". That explains why people with sleep disorders, such as insomnia and sleep apnea, commonly battle with their weight, says Brian Quebbemann, M.D., a bariatric surgeon with the Chapman Medical Center in California and president of The N.E.W. Program. For optimum levels, research from Brigham Young University suggests that women get between 6.5 hours and 8.5 hours of sleep per night, and crash at the same time every day. So start working on that sleep schedule!
>> Read more: 31 Interesting Facts About Sleep
2. Build fat-burning muscle. Women generally think of testosterone as a manly hormone, and ladies do have far less T than our hairy counterparts. But teeny levels of that hormone mean tiny weight-loss results.
Testosterone is actually one of your body's primary muscle-building hormones. And the more muscle your have, the more calories you burn while doing literally nothing, says Quebbemann. What's more, low levels of testosterone promote insulin resistance, encouraging your body to store calories as fat, says Pat Gilles, C.S.C.S., a Wisconsin-based trainer.
Your move: Pick up something heavy. Lifting heavy weights is the best way to promote the release of muscle-building, fat-burning testosterone, says Gilles. (By heavy, we mean enough resistance that you can only do three-to-four sets of six-to-10 reps with proper form). What’s more, performing compound lifts like squats, deadlifts, and assisted pull-ups uses more muscle fibers and spurs optimum testosterone levels, he says.
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