Are you gaining weight, even though you haven’t changed a thing about your diet or exercise regime?
Maybe you’ve noticed your skin starting to loosen up a bit, or your pants getting harder to button.
Are you regularly choosing yoga pants over your skinny jeans?
Don’t be down on yourself… it might just be your body reacting to a natural hormonal change that occurs during early midlife. Women often start to lose their waistlines and have a harder time staying fit when they begin the process of losing estrogen— better known as perimenopause.
Perimenopause begins several years prior to menopause, when the body actually stops releasing eggs.
For some women, this process doesn’t start until their late 30’s or 40’s, but for others it can start much earlier—even in their twenties!
So, don’t blame yourself for that extra bit of weight you just can’t seem to shake! It’s not your fault… your body is driving this change, but there I still time for you to take the reins.
ESTROGEN AND WEIGHT GAIN
If you scan the internet, you will find a ton of articles on Estrogen Dominance – or too much estrogen. That is because this is a huge problem that effects approximately 70% of women over 35. However, too little estrogen can be equally concerning – and deserves some attention.
Why does losing estrogen often result in gaining weight?
Because estrogen is stored in fat cells. When your estrogen production starts to slow down, your body counteracts by trying to hold on to as much of its existing estrogen as possible—which means holding on to the fat that contains it.
This is not good news for your abs and waistline (the main area where this type of fat is stored), turning your curvy pear shape into an apple dumpling. But don’t go looking for a quick fix with estrogen replacement therapy—the side effects could be far less sexy than a bulging belly.
The synthetic estrogen replacement therapy programs on the market come with warning labels that include the possibility of heart attack, stroke, breast cancer, and blood clots with symptoms like dizziness, leg cramps, vomiting, chest pains, shortness of breath and severe headaches.
Sorry, but that doesn’t sound sexy OR healthy to me.
The good news is that you can help keep as much estrogen as possible by eating natural foods rich in phytoestrogen, making it easier for your body to shed those fat cells and bring your sexy back.
PHYTOESTROGEN-RICH FOODS FOR STAYING FIT
It’s time for you to feed your inner superwoman! Certain foods contain a phytochemical called phytoestrogen, which for various reasons either encourages estrogen production or strengthens the body’s estrogen-receptors.
When there’s more estrogen around, the body doesn’t have to hold on to those estrogen-filled fat cells and you can start to lose those few extra “impossible” pounds!
When natural levels of estrogen are low, isoflavones work by activating the estrogen beta-receptors. Soy is one of the most isoflavone-rich foods, but I caution against eating too much soy if you are trying to cleanse your body, lose weight, and build lean muscle.
Why? Because soy is inflammatory to the system and is often genetically modified and filled with toxic chemicals from fertilizers to insecticides… all of which will serve to undermine your efforts. Soy can also be an adrenal-disruptor and is one of the more common food allergens.
However, there are other foods that are high in isoflavones, including red cabbage, broccoli, and green and black teas.
Lignans are isoflavones that bind to the estrogen receptors. However, researchers are still unsure as to the effect lignans have on total estrogen levels because these phytoestrogens have a lower estrogenic effect than the estrogen produced by your own body.
Consuming lignans could be beneficial if you are no longer producing enough of your own estrogen. But if you are producing plenty of natural estrogen already, lignans could actually block their reception. So, just be sure that your weight gain is symptomatic of low estrogen production when adding lignans to your diet.
If you’re unsure, you can have your estrogen levels tested with a simple urine, saliva or blood test. While you are at it, it’s a good idea to have all of your sex hormones and adrenal hormones tested too!
The following foods are high in lignans and can be added easily to a real whole food diet: Flax seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, cashews, curly kale, broccoli, apricots, green cabbage, Brussels sprouts, garlic, strawberries, peaches, cranberries, blueberries, zucchini, and carrots.
Brussels sprouts and broccoli also contain a second phytoestrogen called coumestrol.
ADDING ESTROGEN BOOSTERS TO YOUR DIET
The good thing is that it’s pretty simple to add these foods to your regular diet. A simple salad of spinach with sunflower seeds and broccoli or a cup of black tea can help boost your estrogen levels a little bit. If you want to make sure you get enough of these foods every day, you can try incorporating an estro-boosting shake like this one into your daily diet.
The kefir is important because it will help promote the healthy gut bacteria necessary to assimilate the nutrients. If you can’t handle dairy (even fermented) try using goat milk kefir or kombucha.
Here’s one more final food tip for boosting low levels of estrogen: Drink coffee. More than a cup a day can actually increase estrogen levels. Just make sure it’s organic, because the negative effects of toxic farming practices outweigh the benefits of the coffee if it’s not.
THE ESTRO-BOOST SHAKE RECIPE – Bye Bye Belly!
Directions: Throw 2 cups of packed curly kale, 1 cup blueberries, 1 tablespoon flax seeds, 1 small carrot, ½ cup plain organic kefir (or goat milk kefir), ½ teaspoon vanilla, a dash of cinnamon, a handful of ice and organic stevia leaf extract (for zero calorie) or raw honey to taste into your high powered blender. Process until smooth.