So you’re lets assume you’re female and you’re simply fed up with carrying that little extra weight around the hips and you want to know the secret to slimming this particular area. Well the good news is that this area can be spot reduced BUT the bad new is that exercise ALONE is not the answer to your prayers.
Many fitness professionals will tell you to do more side-lying leg raises, fire hydrants, deep squats and so on but the fact of the matter is that just doing a few of these each day WILL NOT get you the body you really want. You need to follow a program that is specifically designed for fat loss, which includes working the whole body with compound movements (exercise that uses more than one muscle group). But hold on, this isn’t the only thing you need to work on. The key to spot reducing body fat in the hips comes down to the HORMONE BALANCE and NUTRITION!
So the main reason women store fat on the hips and thighs is because of an imbalance in the hormone called estrogen. More specifically you’re estrogen dominant. This simply means a women’s estrogen is relatively high putting it out of balance with progesterone. When this hormone is out of balance it wreaks havoc on your figure and your health. When the scales tip too much in favor of estrogen women will fall fail to menstrual irregularities, worse PMS, difficult menopause and fat storage in the hips and thighs.
Chronic tress, which can be heightened due to high consumption of caffeinated drinks, may trigger estrogen dominance in some women. When you are stressed the hormone cortisol will increase and this causes less progesterone to be produced (this is known as the Progesterone Steal and generally occurs when you are under a lot of stress causing you to miss a period or delaying it slightly). Having less progesterone around to balance out estrogen leads to higher estrogen levels causing fat storage around the hips.
To add to this, prolonged levels of cortisol will elevate blood sugar and increase insulin levels. Refined and processed carbs will also cause high levels of insulin too. This is our storage hormone and when too much is produced it will predominantly cause fat storage around the waist above the hips. However, when both cortisol and insulin are high it also causes fat storage in the stomach and any increase in body fat creates more estrogen leading to more fat storage distributed in the hips too. It gets worse, a women’s testosterone is also affected due to the high levels of insulin. Yes women produce testosterone but just enough to help keep you lean. This high level of insulin prompts a process know as aromatization. An enzyme called aromatase, found in high concentrations on the hips and thighs of a woman (and in the belly and breast on a man) will convert this testosterone into estrogen further increases it in the body. Try and get some much needed “me time” and relax with some Tulsi tea to help reduce your stress levels and avoid caffeine especially if it makes you jittery and anxious.
Another issue is endocrine disruptors. They lower the hormones that balance estrogen by blocking both the production of progesterone and testosterone, whilst at the same time mimicking estrogen itself causing estrogen dominance to fluctuate. The only endocrine disruptors I will document in this article are the ones that we have the most control over and that is the ones we consume. Be aware that non-organic fruit and veg are sprayed with pesticides and fertiliser that are well known endocrine disruptors. The ones that we are not so aware of are the chemical additives that are in some of our packaged foods. Avoid processed foods, artificial food additives of all kinds, including artificial sweetener and MSG.
If you store fat in the hips and you drink alcohol regular you are most likely estrogen dominant and you will have a particularly difficult time shedding this unwanted body fat unless you eliminate alcohol completely from your diet. Alcohol is highly concentrated causing you to inadvertently take in more calories than you would otherwise consume. Finally alcohol increases aromatization and encourages estrogen build up. It gives the liver extra work and distracts it from eliminating estrogen. It is also a potent sugar it also increases blood sugar, insulin and cortisol levels whilst reducing your lean hormone testosterone causing more fat storage from the waist down! As if all this hormonal havoc wasn’t enough, excess estrogen also disrupts thyroid hormones, reducing your metabolism.
Don’t get overwhelmed trying to completely rid your life of excess estrogens just try and do as much as you can. Here’s a few other ways to avoid excess estrogens:
- Eat organic fruit and veg to avoid estrogenic pesticides and fertiliser
- Pay more and opt for organic meat and poultry as low-quality proteins are full of estrogens
- Don’t use plastic containers to store food as the food leaches estrogenic chemicals from the plastic especially when you heat the food in the plastic container.
- Avoid cheap soft plastic water bottles whenever you can
Try eating more vegetables in liberal amounts daily, particularly non-starchy vegetables. Raw or steamed cruciferous vegetables are best such as broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale and watercress, as they’re excellent estrogen modulators.
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