Your hormones play a major role in your ability to lose weight, so what do you do if you’re a man or woman with a hormonal imbalance?
The answer might be hiding in plain sight and as close as your kitchen.
In this post, we explore how you can balance hormones by eating more fat.
When you learn how to get the right fats into your diet in the right amounts, you’ll reset your hormones and unlock your body’s fat-burning metabolism.
Balancing Hormones By Adding Healthy Fats
If Your Diet is Off, So are Your Hormones
If you follow my YouTube channel and blog, you know that I talk a lot about how hormonal problems block weight loss.
The top female hormonal issues include:
The top male hormonal concern is:
- Low testosterone
These issues are physically, mentally, and emotionally draining, and they can make your weight skyrocket even if you’re eating the same way you always did.
Turning things around starts with changing your diet, or at least adding a few fatty tweaks.
That’s right. The most recent research is showing that men and women can balance hormones by eating more fat.
As it turns out, the advice to avoid eating fat that has been pounded into our heads since grade school has steered us wrong.
Not only is eating fat necessary to burn off body fat, but it also plays a vital role in balancing your hormones throughout life.
Eating Fat Helps Hormones Pass Into Your Cells
Move over protein; there’s a new builder in town.
Protein is referred to as the building block of the body because it builds your muscles. This nickname is deserved, and I don’t want to take anything away from the importance of protein, but fat is just as much of a “body-builder.”
Fats are the basic building blocks of your cell membranes. These fatty membranes surround every cell and act as the border patrol allowing the right balance of hormones to enter your cells.
Healthy cell walls mean a healthy hormone balance, especially when we’re talking about thyroid hormones. If thyroid hormones can’t get into your cells, they can’t do their job and you suffer from a sluggish metabolism.
To build healthy cell membranes, you need to eat healthy fats.
I discuss how to eat healthy fats in this video. But the gist is that…
- Healthy fats are natural fats
- coconut oil
- fatty fish
- Unhealthy fats are processed or man-made lab creations
- vegetable oils
- trans fats (hydrogenated fats
- canola oil
- vegetable oils
Unhealthy fats make your cell walls rigid, making it hard for hormones to get into your cells.
You’ll notice I didn’t lump cholesterol in with the unhealthy fats, that’s because it doesn’t belong there.
Cholesterol has been unfairly demonized over the years. The truth is that without it, you’d die.
Your Hormones Are Made From Fat (Cholesterol)
Not only is cholesterol an important part of your cell membranes, but it’s also needed for your body to create hormones.
Estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone are all steroid hormones made from cholesterol.
Did you know that mother’s milk is mostly cholesterol? The cholesterol is needed by the newborn to make hormones and ensure proper brain function (1).
Studies on testosterone production in males show that an increased intake of saturated fats (i.e. coconut oil, butter, fatty meats) and monounsaturated fats (i.e. olive oil) increased testosterone production, while polyunsaturated fats (i.e. vegetable oils) reduced testosterone production (2).
There is a controversial side to cholesterol, but cholesterol does not have to be eliminated from your diet. In fact, most of the cholesterol floating around in your body is made by your liver, not obtained from your diet.
Your Brain is 60% Fat
If someone calls you a fat head, say thank you.
The human brain is made up of nearly 60% fat, so a fat brain is a healthy brain.
We now know essential fatty acids are a necessity when it comes to your brain’s ability to perform (3).
So, it seems logical to think that getting enough high-quality fats in your diet could help eliminate brain fog, which is a common complaint I hear from women with hormonal issues.
Did you notice that some fatty acids are referred to as “essential” fatty acids?
Essential fats are so named because they cannot be made by your body, so you must get them from your diet.
There are two essential fats that you need to eat: omega-6 fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids. These fats must be consumed in balanced amounts with the ratio of omega 6:3 falling somewhere in the range from 1:1 to 5:1 (4).
Omega-6s are easy (too easy) to get because they are found in many processed foods, but getting enough omega-3s is quite a bit harder.
If you are a man or woman with a hormonal imbalance, you should actively work on getting omega-3s from foods like fatty fish, nuts, seeds, or a supplement.
Dietary Fats and Infertility
One of the more heart-wrenching problems associated with a low-fat diet is the increased risk of infertility.
A 2007 study published in the journal, Human Reproduction found that a high intake of low-fat dairy foods may increase the risk of infertility. High-fat dairy foods had the opposite effect (5).
The hormone problems and other risks linked to low-fat diets have become so obvious that even the U.S. government changed its tune on eating fat.
In 2015, the nutrition world was shocked to learn that the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee exonerated cholesterol and put eating fat back into the “OK” column for the American diet.
In other words, after a 30-some year war on dietary fat, the U.S. Government finally admitted that…
Eating Fat Does Not Make You Fat
I grew up in the ’70s and ’80s. These were the decades that began the war against fat that resulted in the publishing of the food pyramid that told us to eat carbs and avoid fat.
Remember the tiny allowance for fat at the peak of the pyramid and the big spread of bread, cereals, and rice at the base?
Boy did we get this wrong!
In fact, we are better off turning the food pyramid upside-down.
The thing we need to get out of our brains is that the fats on our dinner plate do not become the fats in our blood.
The title of a study published in the American Journal of Medicine says it best, “Dietary fat is not a major determinant of body fat.”
The study showed that getting up to 40% of your daily calories from fat had little if any, effect on body fatness. Well, isn’t that a kick in the pants!
Moreover, within the United States, a substantial decline in the percentage of energy from fat during the last 2 decades has corresponded with a massive increase in the prevalence of obesity (6).
So if eating fat doesn’t make body fat, what does? The answer: carbohydrates and sugar.
In his New York Times Best-Selling Book, Eat Fat, Get Thin, Dr. Mark Hyman states…
“It is carbs and sugar (and excess protein) that cause your liver to produce the saturated fats found in your blood.”
How Did We Get Into This Big Fat Mess?
It’s no secret that since the release of the food pyramid, cases of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease have skyrocketed.
As soon as fats were declared evil, the food industry pounced on the opportunity to market low-fat varieties of everything to an eager public.
Of course, it didn’t take food manufacturers long to realize that removing the fat from food made food taste like cardboard.
*Initial Problem: When you remove fat from food, you remove the flavor.
*Initial Solution: Add sugar to make the food taste like food, not cardboard.
**New Problem: After a few decades of getting fatter and sicker, we figured out that carbohydrates and sugar are what make us fat, not dietary fat.
**New Solution: Kick low-fat muffins, yogurts, and crackers to the curb, and go back to eating fat!
The bottom line is that fats are back in style. Let me correct that…healthy fats are in style, bad fats belong in the garbage can.
You’re probably wondering, which fats are good and which are bad? Let me show you in my next blog post, Beginner’s Guide to Healthy Fats and Unhealthy Fats
Balance Your Fats with Fiber and Minerals
Now you know that you can balance hormones by eating more fat, but for the best overall health and fat loss, you want to balance your fat intake with fiber.
If you need some inspiration to get fiber into your diet, start with my free video series: 4 Daily Habits that give your body no choice but to lose weight.
About the Author
Dr. Becky Gillaspy, DC graduated Summa Cum Laude with research honors from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1991.