For example, the hormone estrogen has a unique relationship with the fat cell. Fat cells can release signals that enable your body to synthesize estrogen and to regulate the reproductive cycle. In turn, estrogen affects fat cells. An influx of extra estrogen into the body from food sources can cause fat cells to grow and become stubborn.
A similar situation occurs during pregnancy and in mothers who are breast-feeding, as this causes the fat cells in the body to swell so that they are able to absorb and store more fuel. The estrogen is telling them that they need to stock up on extra fat, so the fat cells prepare to do so. This is why a lot of women gain weight when starting birth control pills or when entering menopause when levels of progesterone fall and estrogen becomes the dominant hormone.
Most of the time, women have a more difficult time losing body fat than men. However, men are quickly catching up in this day and age due to the estrogenic foods being consumed in our modern Western society, rife with environmental pollution and refined foods. Ironically, one reason women have a harder time with fat loss than men is because, at any given time, women are more likely to be on a severely restricted diet to attain the coveted thinness that's been established as a standard of beauty and attractiveness in our culture.
Unfortunately, severe and prolonged dieting shuts down the metabolism, sending the body into starvation mode. The fat cells begin sending out even more fat-storing enzymes and a significantly smaller amount of fat-releasing enzymes. Because the fat cells are afraid of being starved to death and depleted of their stores, they will hold on to the fat they have to the best of their ability, causing the body to start burning lean muscle mass to get the amount of fuel it needs.
Lean muscle mass, located in the skeletal muscles and the organ systems, is the metabolically active part of the body. This means that after the diet is over and your body is out of starvation mode, your metabolism will still not function as well as before the diet, because you have lost some of your muscle mass, which was the engine driving your metabolism.
In addition, the effects of restrictive dieting on your fat-storing and -releasing enzymes can be permanent. Though the levels will return closer to a normal level after the diet, the fat-releasing enzymes will almost always be at a little lower level than before the diet, and the fat-storing enzymes will almost always be at a slightly higher level. Even worse: the effects are cumulative. This means that after each successive bout of dieting, it will be harder and harder for you to lose fat and control your weight for the long term.
It sounds hopeless, but it's not, so don't panic! This doesn't mean that you're stuck with unwanted fat and excess weight for the rest of your life. It only means that you don't have to diet anymore. Even if you tortured yourself with deprivation diets that left you hungry, anxious, and unhappy in the past, what we know about hormones, enzymes, and fat cells can actually be great news. You can lose your unwanted fat through good old-fashioned nutrition, calorie-burning, and metabolism-stimulating exercise and anti-estrogenic foods.
What I am suggesting to you is not a magic bullet solution, and if you've been a long term chronic dieter, it might take a lot longer to lose the amount of fat you want to lose. But by putting an end to the quick-results, crash-diet approach and taking the weight loss gradually, you will not only avoid the feelings of deprivation that sabotage many diets, but the weight you lose will be three times more likely to stay off.
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