FEATURE — Your body can speak volumes about how you need to lose weight and what hormones may be overproducing or underproducing. The body speaks to us through the accumulation of fat in specific areas and gives providers a clue as to how to best approach helping us with weight loss.
Dr. Eric Berg simplified the body into four types, helping others identify problem areas and how to solve the issues. Each body type tends to have a dominant glad that affects hormonal function, weight gain and the location of extra weight, he said.
“One person might hold weight in the stomach, yet another will hold it in the lower body as saddle bags,” Berg said. “Yet another will hold it all over or as a pot belly. Based on where the person holds the weight, one can predict the deeper problem because glands and hormones have the capacity to distort your body shape.”
Adding to Berg’s evaluation, Regan Archibald of East West Health in St. George said many people have a combination of several of the body types.
“The real key is in fixing your hormonal health,” Archibald said. “Your health is your most valuable asset.”
If your hormones are out of sync, Archibald related it to your phone delivering static all the time. Without proper hormonal function, it’s hard for good communication to happen between organs and glands.
Lacy Larsen, a personal trainer and nutritionist in Lehi, said hormones can play a role in the ability to lose or maintain weight.
“There are so many reasons that women’s hormones can be thrown off and so many of them are related to stress,” Larsen said. “Diets don’t work, it’s a lifestyle change!”
The body types Berg classified are called adrenal, thyroid, ovary and liver. After identifying which body type you have, the next step is assessing the hormones associated with that type.
Adrenal body type
The adrenal body type accumulates fat storage as lower belly fat, especially sagging. The main cause of this is stress, and it may difficult for those with this body type to relax or sleep restfully.
“An adrenal body type is likely to be edgy and eventually develop memory problems,” Berg said. “Adrenal body types are also people who crave salt and retain fluid when they eat salt to excess. Sinus problems are common in the adrenal type and these individuals may even have knee pain because the adrenal hormones affect the muscles connecting to the knee.”
Kjell Crowe, coach of a popular exercise boot camp and wellness coach in Orem, said she agrees that individuals with high stress, also have high levels of cortisol.
“I would recommend talking with their doctor about cortisol suppression,” Crowe said. “I would also suggest frequent protein meals, adequate sleep, stress reduction techniques like yoga/meditation. In addition, all starchy/sugary carbs should be eaten only during/after exercise and they should include a 5:1 ratio of veggies to fruit at each meal.”
Thyroid body type
The thyroid body shape usually gain weight all over the body, usually because of high levels of estrogen. Those with this body type often crave sweets, are increasingly tired, have cold feet and may suffer from hair loss. Dry skin and vertical ridges on the nails are other signs of a thyroid body shape, Berg said.
Crowe said a person with this body type should only eat starchy or sugary carbs during or after exercise and increase their exercise.
“They should look into ways of reducing estrogen levels with their doctor, add in fish oils to their nutrition, and make sure to get enough protein in at each meal,” Crowe said.
Ovary body type
The ovary body shape is also related to female hormones, where the person gains weight in the thighs and lower belly.
“This type tends to have menstrual cycle issues from heavy bleeding to irregular periods to ovary cysts and even fibroids,” Berg said. “Cyclic headaches and cravings for dairy are common.”
Crowe recommends adding cruciferous veggies such as broccoli and cauliflower to the diet for those with this body type, increase exercise volume and discuss prescription estrogens with their doctor.
Liver body type
The liver body type has a pot belly, protruding outward and less sagging compared to the adrenal body type. Fried food cravings are common, along with grouchiness in the mornings.
“They have right shoulder pain because the liver is on the right side,” Berg said. “They have skin issues, such as brown spots and little red dots.”
The individual with this body type should find their adequate calorie intake and make sure to receive healthy fats such as walnuts, avocados and olive oil, said Crowe.
Like other body types, Crowe recommends increasing exercise, and eating sugary or starchy carbs only during or after exercise.
Regardless of body type, there are many common strategies to help achieve optimal health. These include:
- Avoiding environmental triggers that affect hormones, such as nonorganic meats, dairy and soy products
- Choosing correct foods for your body type to help manage your diet and avoid blood sugar swings
- Exercise done specifically for your body type, which will help lose or maintain weight loss, as well as promote overall health of your endocrine system
“When women come to me frustrated as can be because they’ve gained so much weight and can’t seem to get it off, I take them back to the basics and tell them it’ll come off and that as long as they keep doing the right things (eating healthy, exercising, being positive and not stressing about it) it’ll happen,” Larsen said. “The power of the mind is incredible!”
Larsen said food can be the slowest form of poison or the best form of medicine.
Adding to the advice of nutrition, Crowe said exercise is a must.
“Be realistic, set attainable goals, work on changing one habit at a time, eat well, but don’t deprive yourself,” Crowe said. “Remember, your weight loss journey is not going to be like those individuals on the Biggest Loser. It’s going to be slower, but just as rewarding when you reach your goal.”
Ed. Note: Readers are advised to seek the counsel of their own medical professionals. While Berg was reprimanded in 2007, according to the Virginia Board of Medicine, the board later released a letter which indicates his licensure is full and unrestricted. Berg’s viewpoints have since been presented in Shape Magazine and approved by Dr. Zidi Berger from the Women’s Wellness Institute.
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