By Teri Dale
One of the questions I get a asked a lot is, “Why do i seem to gain weight in my mid-section.” …..(or arms, butt, etc..) Well, if you are noticing that you seem to be gaining in certain areas or your body, despite eating well and exercising, then it’s time to take a look at your HORMONES.
- Hormones have the power to make us feel great, but they can also wreck our lives. There are many types of hormones and all have important roles in keeping us balanced and healthy. Hormones balance our sugar level, instruct our cells to generate energy, keep our calcium level normal and our hearts beating regularly, and help our liver detoxify our system.
- When the hormone balance is off, we experience symptoms. Many women and men will experience these changes at different times in their lives.
At the Age of 40, the hormones start to fluctuate, a lot. Estrogen dominance in women starts to appear in their 30s and 40s as their progesterone levels fluctuate prior to menopause (ratio of estrogen to progesterone is high). As men approach their 40s, testosterone levels decline and often convert to estrogen, a process known as aromatization. However, it’s quite apparent that Estrogen dominance affects both males and females. So today, we are going to talk about your hormones and why you store fat in certain places.
Symptoms of estrogen dominance may appear as increased breast tissue (gynectomastia) in males. Females may experience breast swelling and tenderness, abdominal cramping, backaches, bloating, headaches/migraines, food cravings, irritability, anxiety, depression, brain fog, sleep difficulties, and/or lowered sex drive. Females may complain that their legs are fat or thick. Upon evaluation of these women, my observation is that they tend to spend the majority of their training time on cardio equipment, walking, and long duration running, and rarely ever weight train.
What Are Some Causes Estrogen Dominance?
Estrogen is a catabolic hormone that can cause increased body fat and increased aromatase, whereas testosterone is an anabolic hormone that promotes muscle growth. Aromatization happens when androgens (testosterone) convert to estrogens (estrodial). High estrogen and low testosterone may indicate aromatase. Aromatase is an enzyme found in estrogen producing cells in the adrenal glands, ovaries, placenta, testicles, adipose or fat tissue and the brain.
Symptoms / Conditions of Low Testosterone: Fatigue, lack of motivation, depression, decreased libido, poor concentration, infertility, hypothalamus or pituitary disorders, zinc deficiency, decreased muscle tissue, and increased body fat. For men, their breasts may enlarge as extra estrogen begins to promote female body characteristics; they may experience erectile dysfunction or testicular tumors.
Symptoms / Conditions of Estrogen Dominance: Insomnia, breast, uterine and prostate cancer, man boobs, obesity, magnesium and zinc deficiency, endometriosis, infertility, osteoporosis, PMS, high quadricep and hamstring skin-folds, acne and depression.
Estrogen dominance may be revealed through a bodyfat composition test, and visual inspection, and pinch tests based on scientific evidence that where people store their body fat is an indication of their hormonal profile. Body fat levels and corresponding imbalanced hormones can be effectively managed through a combination of diet, exercise, a targeted supplementation protocol, and lifestyle modifications according to the individual’s results.
MALES: Sites that reveal estrogen dominance in males include the pecs, quads and hamstring; if the pectoral site is higher than the triceps site this indicates aromatase. High estrogen in males is often combined with high insulin (insulin resistance) and low testosterone. Additionally, if the quadriceps skin fold is relatively high in a male, a PSA (Prostate-specific Antigen) test is in order.
- Chest = Androgen site. High estrogen/aromatase (often combined with high insulin and low testosterone)
- Triceps = Androgen site. Low DHEA and/or elevated insulin
- Back (Scapula) = High insulin (inability to tolerate carbs)
- Love Handles (Illiac Crest) = Insulin and blood sugar imbalances (too many carbs or excess alcohol)
- Mid-axillary = thyroid
- Abs = Long term exposure to stress/high cortisol
- Quads/Hamstrings = Long term exposure to estrogens
- Calf/Knee = Low growth hormone and/or a need to detox
- Chest = High Estrogen
- Triceps = Low DHEA-S or elevated insulin
- Back (Scapula) = High insulin and/or high testosterone (intolerance to carbs)
- Mid-axillary = thyroid
- Muffin Top = Insulin & Blood sugar imbalances (too many carbs, low calories or excess alcohol)
- Abs = Long term exposure to stress/High cortisol
- Quad/Hamstrings = Long term exposure to estrogens/high estrogen and/or low progesterone
- Knee/Calf = low growth hormone and/or a need a detox.
Blood lab work or saliva testing is another option. Saliva testing can be more accurate since less than 2% of bioavailable hormones are in the blood.
Liver enzyme activity and poor detoxification of estrogens are other factors to consider. Alcohol is a huge culprit here as well as marijuana, environmental toxins, pesticides in foods, medications and more.
Elevated levels of estrogen and low testosterone apply to females and male, alike. Excess estrogens in your body not only lead to aromatization, but estrogen dominant health issues such as endometriosis, fibroids, ovarian cysts as well as breast and prostate cancers. According to research from the University of Munster in Germany, when diets high in natural foods that inhibit the aromatase enzyme are eaten, chance of breast cancers in postmenopausal women are drastically reduced.
Aside from Lifestyle Modifications, consider these important tips:
- Additional Fiber (guar gum) assists in binding the bad estrogens in the digestive tract and pushing them through the colon
- Avoid estrogen precursors such as non-organic, commercially-fed meats, pesticides, plastic bottles, chemical-laden cosmetics, lotions and cleaning products.
- Avoid processed carbohydrates, pasteurized dairy and all products containing, soy, corn, HFCS, vegetable oils and trans fats (anything listed as hydrogenated on the label).
- Protect Your Liver: Calcium d-glucarate supports liver detoxification of excess estrogen. The liver also needs B vitamins, particularly B6, to detoxify excess estrogen.
- Consume organic foods, especially organic animal protein, versus conventional due to the abundance of synthetic pesticides, xenohormones, antibiotics, etc.
- Ensure healthy gut flora with probiotics.
- Improve your mood naturally and get off antidepressants, which raise aromatase.
- Heal Your Gut.
- If progesterone is high or low, always look at the adrenals
- Lift weights a minimum of 2x times per week
- Perform HIIT training 1-2x a week
- Support Adrenals with herbal supplements, rest and stress reduction.
- Test and rule out heavy metals in the body
- Zinc, essential fatty acids and other nutritional support
- Boost Testosterone Naturally and Inhibit Aromatase with natural estrogen blockers. Contact me for a nutritional strategy customized for you according to your personal needs and deficiencies.
As far as exercise goes, the solution for estrogen dominance and decreased testosterone is interval training, specifically a proficient and smartly designed strength training program that builds muscle such as the BFIT Program. www.bfitchallenge.com. Which is designed to balance hormones, lose body fat, strengthen muscles, good nutrition, rid individuals of medications and increase overall balance.
Proper diet & nutrition, as well as quality sleep and hydration (specifically PH Water) must always be factored into your everyday life. Workouts involving the major muscles and multi joint exercises will force the body to lose the fat reserves and increase muscle mass. Some of my favorite total body strength training exercises include heavy weigh-lifting, multi-directional lunges, dead lifts, pull ups, push ups and step ups. Get off the machines and instead use dumbbells, bands, sleds, barbells, body weight, suspension training (trx), and weighted core balls.
The BFit Program is an all encompassing program focusing on fat loss, muscle gain, strength gains, hormone balance, nutrition coaching, cooking help, and self esteem coaching.
Take a look at fat versus muscle. In the below picture, both weigh 5 lbs, but look at how much more space the fat takes up in your body. Muscle is dense and take up a smaller space and it’s very metabolic. Fat occupies much more space and is very uneven in texture. Muscle mass (hypertrophy) increases and your body composition changes. And the more muscle you have, the higher your metabolic rate which burns fat, faster. Also, intramuscular fat diminishes with strength training.
Estrogen dominance and decreased testosterone is a complex condition, however you can decrease estrogen dominance and boost your testosterone levels naturally.
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