Add as bookmark

Weight Loss Winners and Dieting Downfalls: Hormonally Speaking

by Alyssa Burns-Hill(more info)

listed in weight loss, originally published in issue 214 - May 2014

Weight loss and dieting can be a battle of will; an exercise in restraint; and, even a losing wicket.  Did you know that you can trigger a hormone hijack with your weight loss regime?

New research has revealed that the average Brit might spend more than half of the year on a diet, which could add up to thirty two years of your life dieting.  This makes it clear that diets don’t work, but more than three quarters of us are unhappy with our weight and will keep dieting, according to research commissioned by Del Monte.[1]

Weight Loss Winners

As chemical messengers, hormones can push your buttons physically, mentally and emotionally and can play a very prominent role in dieting success or failure.  Just to confirm I’m not talking about ghrelin or leptin, the hunger and satiety (feeling full) hormones because that assumes an isolated cause and effect relationship with weight management problems.  I am talking about your more general hormone health.

Weight Loss Winners

Hormones can sabotage your efforts and hijack your willpower

  • Feeling anxious or stressed and seeking solace (food)?
  • Feeling depressed and seeking comfort (food)?
  • Feeling tired and seeking energy (food)?
  • Having cravings that need satisfying (food)?
  • Not losing weight despite cutting your calories to say 1000 per day – leaving you feeling depressed and seeking comfort (food)?

These are all ways that your hormones can become your dieting downfalls.  Let’s look at some specific hormone areas.

Weight Loss Winners

Dieting Downfall - Your Stress


  • makes you crave sugary and salty snacks because of low energy and/or low stress gland (adrenal) function;
  • interferes with thyroid hormone function in terms of its availability and ability to connect to tissue;[2] 
  • interferes with sleep and thinking abilities, which can have a serious impact on energy and how you cope during the day;
  • is linked to problems with depression and anxiety, which could mean that you are more inclined to seek comfort from food;
  • (high cortisol) will put weight around the middle – what’s your weight gain shape?[3]

Stress is a complex subject and it’s something we tend to judge subjectively, mostly thinking that we don’t have any reason to be stressed, or, that the other person’s stress is much more significant than your own!  Don’t let stress dominate your life, here are some weight loss winning tips …

  • Don’t add stress into your life by going on a diet regime that radically changes your eating and shopping habits.  Start with small steps that cut out obviously wrong foods and drinks;
  • Try to introduce a way of doing some regular light exercise to disperse physical tension.  Five minutes out from your front door and five minutes back is easy for anyone to do when you get home from work.  You don’t have to plan a route and you shouldn’t have to think about it!
  • Do a daily life audit to see where your stress points are and see what you can do to change things.  Again start small, don’t try to revolutionise your day;
  • Reduce stimulants gradually and don’t use alcohol to numb feelings of stress.  If you drink coffee or cola to keep going, make it a rule that you don’t drink these drinks after 1pm; 
  • Be proactive in managing your meals – plan ahead then you know what to expect and reduce those boom bust carbs!

Weight Loss Winners

Another Dieting Downfall is Your Metabolism

Metabolism is a term that is used to describe the breaking down of your food and drink (and other things ingested or absorbed by the body), as well as the making of bodily components such as peptides and proteins to maintain and repair your body.  This process creates and expends energy at the cellular level and the speed of your metabolism depends on the availability of thyroid hormones, not just the performance of your thyroid gland in pushing out thyroid hormone T4.  There are a number of factors that can affect thyroid hormone function and this can have a major impact on the success of any diet strategy because fatigue:

  • Can have you reaching for instant energy in the form of chocolate;
  • Is a major reason why people are unable to make better food choices and opt for processed foods;
  • Is a major reason why people cannot find willpower and opt out of exercise.

Some key weight loss winners to support your metabolism

  • Addressing nutritional deficiencies, such as zinc and selenium, can support thyroid hormone production;[4]
  • Look at stress factors as this will interfere with thyroid hormone conversion;
  • If you are using hormonal contraceptives or HRT they may be interfering with thyroid hormone availability;
  • Supporting mood and sleep can make a big difference to your energy and willpower during the day.

Dieting Downfall - Your Oestrogen

Men might be thinking that this section is not about them, but they’d be sadly mistaken.  Oestrogen exposure for men is a growing problem and this is illustrated through the statistics for breast reduction surgeries in the UK over the last few years.  In 2008 there were 323 surgeries on men, in 2009 this number increased to 581, in 2010 there were 741 and by 2011 numbers rose still further to 790; an increase of 244% over these four years.[5]

A man’s ability to generate oestrogen around the body is enhanced with the more body fat that he carries and the impact can often be seen through a change in body shape, a feminisation, with weight gain at the hips and breast.  The increased level of oestrogen in his body will also have a negative impact on testosterone production,[6] increasing the potential impact of the oestrogen and dampening libido as well as increasing risk of stroke, heart disease and prostate problems.[7-9]

For Men and Women:

  • Excess body fat will cause higher levels of oestrogen;
  • Oestrogen dominance can increase insulin production, causing sugar cravings;
  • Oestrogen dominance leads to more water retention, which can dramatically affect the scales in any weight loss regime.

For women taking the Pill or HRT - this can increase oestrogen, having an impact on thyroid hormone availability.

Weight Loss Winners Book Cover

So, what can you do? - Weight Loss Winners – Your Metabolism

  • Improve the processing of oestrogen through your system - try supplements like Indole-3-Carbinole or DIM;[10]
  • Weigh yourself daily, note if you feel you are retaining water so that you don’t become disheartened;
  • Reducing the stress in your life will help to stabilise blood sugar, and for women, will support ovulation and better sex hormone balance;
  • Discuss the dose of your Pill or HRT with your doctor to see if it can be reduced, or, ask if there is an alternative.

Your Mood can be a Massive Dieting Downfall!

Mood is a major factor in how you feel about looking after yourself on a minute-by-minute basis and is reflected in the choices you make in your diet and lifestyle.  It’s often the reason why diets are broken in the blink of an eye.

Your mood can predict your vulnerability with regard to what I call the Three Es:  Emotional Eating, Energy Eating and Entertainment Eating!

Emotional Eating

Emotional setbacks and problems can trigger an eating response that feels hard or even impossible to control.  So you eat or drink to feel comforted.  External events that will ramp up your stress hormone, cortisol, and if you use food for comfort you will turn to carbs to:  raise your blood sugar (excess cortisol from stress will tell your body that you’re starving); raise your serotonin level (serotonin is your ‘feel good’ hormone, which is made when you eat carbs;[11] or, to have something nice because you deserve it and need a ‘food hug’, which will raise your oxytocin level[12] (oxytocin is your ‘hug’ hormone).

Energy Eating

This E attacks when you’re tired, stressed or bored when you feel that you need something quick to keep you going.  You might find yourself roaming around the kitchen looking for that quick hit, or decide to go to the vending machine at work or nip out to the corner shop to pick up a packet of instant energy.  Depending on the time of day - what’s your energy eating failing?

Entertainment Eating

Face entertainment with your favourite foods is like a forbidden sensual pleasure – texture, taste and smell.  But probably the biggest hit comes from the texture, the feeling of eating.  Does it satisfy your mouth-craving to crunch, to wallow in creaminess, or to have something chewy.

The act of eating and experiencing your food acts as a physical stroking of the body, just like someone touching you or hugging you.  The digestive system from the mouth to the bowel is made from the same germ cells as the skin so the sense of touch is also an important part of your eating experience.    This action has an important hormonal message because the hormone oxytocin (your ‘hug’ or bonding hormone) is secreted through touch stimulus.[12]  Oxytocin is released in both men and women in response to pleasant warm and rhythmic touch. It helps you to feel calm and relaxed, the opposite of noradrenaline and adrenaline, your fight or flight hormones.[12]

Don’t underestimate the power of the Three Es to undermine your motivation and dedication to your dieting and healthy eating intentions!

Dieting Downfall - Your Sleep

Going to bed to sleep might be a bit of a battleground for you.  As you turn off your light and place your head on the pillow does your mind start chattering away?  It’s all about yesterday, tomorrow, she said that …, why did I do that …, oh damn, I forgot so and so … and so it goes on … and on.  The mind races away on all its little thought loops keeping you from feeling relaxed enough to sleep.  Sleep is but a distant dream as the raised cortisol that is keeping your mind active is also suppressing the secretion of your sleep hormone, melatonin.[13]

When the next day dawns, lack of sleep will cause:

  • You to reach for quick energy and stimulants to keep you going.
  • You to reach for alcohol as a relaxant in the evening.
  • You to experience mood regulation problems,
  • You to have memory and foggy thinking problems.

Let’s look at some weight loss winners to help you sleep.

  • Sleep in complete darkness as this will support melatonin secretion.
  • Keep regular hours, even at the weekend.
  • Make it a rule not to eat within two hours of bedtime to avoid blood sugar highs that may keep you awake.
  • Listen to relaxing music to help you unwind, or, have a hot bath.
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine in the evening, neither with help your sleep.

Losing weight and managing your lifestyle for your wellbeing can be challenging in our 24/7 world geared towards convenience and solutions-in-a-box promising results without real effort.  But first, think about your health – does this convenience work in your best interests?

Working with your hormone health acknowledges that you’re not a machine and can make your voyage into weight loss on the sea of change one that will see you arriving at a new destination instead of back at the port from which you started.

Bon voyage!


1.         Davies, T. Brits spend 32 years on a diet. Female First. 2013. Found online:

2.         Brownstein, D. Overcoming thyroid disorders.  Medical Alternatives Press, West Bloomfield, MI. ISBN 978-0-9660882-2-29.

3.         Daubenmier, J, Kristeller, J et al. Mindfulness intervention for stress eating to reduce cortisol and abdominal fat among overweight and obese women: an exploratory randomized controlled study.  Journal of Obesity.  2011.

4.         Arthur J R and Beckett G J. Thyroid function. The British Medical Bulletin 55: 3; 658-668. 1999.

5.         Sedghi A. UK Plastic Surgery Statistics 2012: brows up, breasts down. The Guardian. January 2013.   Found online:  2013.

6.         Elias A N, Valenta L J and Domurat E S. Male hypogonadism due to nontumorous hyperestrogensim. Journal of Andrology 11: 6; 485-490. 1990.

7.         Abbott R D, Launer L J, Rodriguez B L, et al. Serum estradiol and risk of stroke in elderly men. Neurology. 68: 8; 563-8. 2007.

8.         Dunajska K, Milewicz A, Szymczak J, et al. Evaluation of sex hormone levels and some metabolic factors in men with coronary atherosclerosis. Aging Male. 7: 3; 197-204. 2004.

9.         Krieg M, Nass R and Tunn S. Effect of aging on endogenous level of 5 alpha-dihydrotestosterone, testosterone, estradiol, and estrone in epithelium and stroma of normal and hyperplastic human prostate. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 77: 2; 375-81. 1993.

10.       Fowke J H, Longcope C and Hebert J R. Brassica vegetable consumption shifts estrogen metabolism in health postmenopausal women. Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. 9: 773-779. 2000.

11.       Wurtman R J, Hefti F and Melamed E. Precursor control of neurotransmitter synthesis. Pharmacological Reviews. 32: 4; 315-335. 1980.

12.       Moberg K U. The Oxytocin Factor: tapping the hormone of calm, love and healing.  Pinter & Martin Ltd, London. ISBN 978-1-905177-34-9. 2011.

13.       Claustrat B, Brun J and Chazot, G. The basic physiology and pathophysiology of melatonin. Sleep Medicine Reviews 9: 1; 11-24. 2005.


  1. No Article Comments available

Post Your Comments:

About Alyssa Burns-Hill

Alyssa Burns-Hill PhD MSc FRSPH MIHPE is an internationally recognized natural health Hormone Health Specialist and a scientist and practitioner of health in its broadest sense.  She works with many people around the world, helping them rediscover not only good health naturally, but also a better understanding of themselves. Her background in health stretches over 20 years and includes published books, articles and videos as well as national TV appearances. Since a diagnosis of breast cancer in 2001, and the choice not to be treated with drugs and radiotherapy, her understanding of health took on a different perspective that included the importance of learning about it through the lens of hormones.

Alyssa’s academic background in health promotion (MSc) includes the study of psychology, sociology, epidemiology, communications, and health promotion theory and practice. Her PhD research focused on “Holistic healing from breast cancer through the lens of hormones: Synopsis and synthesis”.  Her research led to the development of a person-centred health care model, which can be very revealing guided through hormone testing and evaluation. Her latest book Weight Loss Winners & Dieting Downfalls Hormonally Speaking is available from Amazon and her own website. Alyssa may be contacted on

  • radical spirituality

    UK publisher of rejected knowledge in areas of esoteric thought and radical streams of spirituality.

  • Seaweed as Superfood

    Comprehensive nutrient balance found in no other natural food but seaweed: colon health, weight loss

  • June Sayer Homeopathy

    Training Academy Homeopathy Nutrition Reiki, Distant Learning. Diet, Health Screening, Detox, Stress

  • College of Ayurveda UK

    Diploma in Āyurvedic Medicine, 4-year self-paced distant learning program in Āyurvedic medicine.

  • mycology research MRL

    MRL markets mushroom products food grade US & Netherlands GMP standards. Health Professional Videos

  • Super Patch Wellbeing

    Super Patches – a most revolutionary advance in wellbeing strategies in the history of medicine

  • Water for Health

    Specialist online health store focused on hydration, body pH balance and quality nutrition.

  • nutrition and cancer

    by Sandra Goodman PhD The latest scientific research regarding Nutrition and Cancer. Full details at


    The FLEXXICORE exercise revolution: transform your fitness regime with 2 exhilarating exercisers

  • Flower essences online

    Fine quality flower essences international ranges to help promote vitality and emotional well-being.

  • Supercoherence-System

    Supercoherence master code can restore each human to their pristine pure state at the speed of light


    Aromatherapy creams & candles. Heal naturally No side effects. Holistic treatments, powerful courses

  • Liposomal Nutrients

    Optimum system for nutrient delivery to cells - fully bioavailable vitamins absorbed and metabolised

  • Beginner's Guide to ME

    Essential reading for people/carers with ME/CFS serious debilitating illness. Counteracts bad advice


    Professor Sheik Imam is a famous professional leading African Healer who works with powerful spirits

top of the page