If you think you’re carrying a lot of body fat on a certain area of your body, perhaps you’ve got man-boobs or you carry all of your fat around your stomach, then you may be suffering from a hormone imbalance.
Your hormone levels direct where excess fat is stored on your body.
Don’t believe me?
Then think about it – what makes a woman different than a man (other than the desire to own more clothes than necessary as my fiancee can prove)?
The big thing is the different levels of the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone.
Estrogen is the female sex hormone. During puberty, when estrogen levels ramp up, body fat starts accumulating in the chest and sometimes the bum, for some more than others.
Testosterone is the male sex hormone that as men, deepens our voice, hairies up our chest (and in some horrific cases, back, neck and shoulders…) and adds a whole lotta muscle mass so we can do impressive things for those estrogen dominant humans we’re always trying to impress.
[Wikipedia has more on sexual differentiation if you're so inclined]
Believe me now?
Great, then let’s continue…
Whether you’re a man or woman, if you’re carrying excess body fat in a certain area, it can often tell you what your hormone imbalance is.
I was recently contacted by Vito Brancaccio, coach of a female boxer who is training for a spot on the 2012 Canadian Olympic boxing squad.
He contacted me because he wants me to train her so that she’s got the endurance to go all day and the power to end it with a single punch.
Another part of this is getting her down to the proper weight class, so Vito contacted me and I setup a time to assess the fighter.
When I assessed her, I performed a body fat test by measuring the skinfolds with my Lange skinfold calipers.
I noticed she carries excess fat on her triceps and hips/thighs, relative to her torso.
This tells me that estrogen *may* be the problem and that we’ve got to look at ways to lower it to be able to get down to the right weight class.
Just going on a regular fat loss program won’t work here because of this hormone imbalance.
Because of this, I’m going to implement the following things to work on getting this hormone back in balance:
- Add heavy strength training, with lower reps, heavier weights and lots of rest times, keeping workouts 30-45 minutes, 3 days/week to naturally promote Testosterone/GH production
- Remove as many sources of xenoestrogens from the diet and environment:
- All plastics like tupperware and plastic water bottles
- Any lotion, shampoo or cream that has parabens or petroleum-based ingredients
- Any perfumes (sorry Calvin Klein)
- Any non-fermented soy products
- Any cooking done on teflon/non-stick coating pans
- Recommendations on what to eat to help get estrogen back in balance include:
- Switching to organic, or at least hormone-free meats
- Consuming 2 tablespoons of freshly ground flax seed per day
- 3-5 cups of green tea/day
- Get some of the spice turmeric into the diet, or perhaps a curcumin supplement
- Birth control pills can also wreak havoc on a female’s hormonal balance
This is of course on top of a solid diet of natural foods, not processed food products.
Excess estrogen in guys often results in what you probably know of as ‘man-boobs’ – you can do the same things I’ve listed here to help you go from a C-cup down to a, well, hopefully, no-cup, or just some hard pecs.
What I’m not talking about is if you’ve got man-boobs on top of being fat everywhere else. Hormonal imbalances result in body fat accumulation imbalances.
If you’re excessively fat everywhere, the basic protocols for fat loss will work for you.
Each and every hormone can be out of balance, but the major ones include the sex hormones I’ve listed here, cortisol and insulin.
Problems with cortisol often show up with excess belly fat compared to the rest of the body – if you’ve got a huge gut and you’re lean in your arms and legs, look to reduce cortisol.
Insulin problems often show up in the love handles and back.
If you’ve got excess body fat because of hormonal issues, the same old fat loss training efforts will not do you any good and could in fact make things worse.
Intense metabolic resistance training workouts that are all the rage in the fat loss world may in fact lower testosterone and boost cortisol, which are the exact opposite of what you want.
So fat loss as everything we humans do must be addressed according to each of our individual needs.
Only then can you obtain optimal results.
If you’re on a program that should be helping you lose fat but you’re stuck, start investigating other avenues to achieve your goals and you just may bust out of that plateau.