An epic keto Q&A with Nutrition Educator Leanne Vogel and guest, answering your questions about hormones, weight loss and how it relates to high-fat, keto living.
There’s so much more to achieving blissful health than sticking to a meal plan and sweating it out at the gym 5 days a week. If our hormones are out of whack, much of our effort goes out the window. (Hint: if you live on the planet Earth, it’s likely that your hormones could use some TLC).
We chatted all about hormones, weight loss and how eating high-fat, keto interacts with a woman’s body… from a woman’s perspective.
Basically? If you’re a woman and you’re wired and tired, depressed and chunky, dry and cranky, and straight-up frustrated that your body is “working against you”, scroll down, press play and stay awhile.
For video transcription, scroll down.
- The 1 thing you’re doing that’s harming your ability to lose weight
- Why your food allergies are leading to weight gain
- How eating high-fat, low-carb, keto can help regulate your menstrual cycle
- How to shut down sugar cravings in 30 seconds
- Why steady state cardio isn’t helping you lose weight
- The truth behind your “normal” blood work results
- Items mentioned in the video: stevia, xylitol, L-glutamine (for sugar cravings), hemp hearts, chaste tree (for estrogen balance)
- Meridian Labs for hormone testing
- Recipe: Keto Rocket Fuel Latte
- Video: End your sugar addiction
- Video: What 6 months of high-fat, keto eating did to my body
- Video: How to start eating more fat
- Video: What a day of high-fat, keto eating looks like
Answering your questions about hormones, weight loss and how it relates to high-fat, keto living…
- What do I do when I’m eating healthy but not losing weight, or my weight is going up?
- How does inflammation inhibit weight loss?
- I don’t know how to stop binge eating. It’s overwhelming and I don’t know where to begin.
- Does eating chia interrupt, or prevent, the absorption of vitamins? If so, for approximately how long?
- What if you have too much estrogen? Would flax seed increase it?
- Just recently learned that I have breast cancer and like you, I’m trying to eat right for my hormones. In your opinion, are my flax days over?
- Does collagen or gelatin affect a woman’s hormones so as to delay menses or increase estrogen?
- How common is it for women to stop menstruating after going off the birth control pill? Why does this happen and how long is too long to go without a cycle?
- What can women with amenorrhea do to actively work toward regaining their cycle? How can a high-fat/low-carb diet help?
- I have always suffered with a lot of anxiety, and I’m afraid this is partly affecting my lack of menstruation, not to mention wreaking havoc on my health and hormones in other ways. I have adrenal fatigue and inflammation as well. Is a high-fat/low-carb/keto diet the way to go? I really love eating this way!
- What are the simplest ways to remove sugar from my life?
- Everything I’ve read about adrenal fatigue warns against intermittent fasting and intense exercise. I personally do not like to snack, and prefer larger meals spaced 4-5 hours apart. Is the whole “don’t go more than three hours without eating” just more BS we’ve been fed?
- I feel guilty when I don’t exercise often, especially because as a teenager I was pretty obsessive about it, but lately my body hasn’t felt up to it. I see you posting about pretty intense workouts, and I wonder if this is recommended for someone in the beginning of their hormone recovery, or if this is something that should come after healing takes place?
- What are some key things that helped you in your journey to hormonal health? Being new to the high-fat/low-carb lifestyle can be tricky at times, and I often feel like I might be doing it wrong. Do you have any specific tips, food ideas, or pieces of advice for newbies?
- I understand that every woman is an individual, but how long does it typically take to start seeing positive changes in hormones on a high-fat/low-carb diet? It can be tempting to quit something after a month or two because it doesn’t seem like it’s “working.”
- Every test I’ve had done by my conventional doctors has come back normal. For years I’ve had the feeling that something is “not right” with my health (and obviously it isn’t!), and it’s frustrating that my blood tests never show it. My gyno says my hormone levels are all within the normal range. How is this possible if I’m not menstruating?
Amber and I had SO much fun answering your questions that she’s agreed to come back on the show for another Q&A. Have a question for us? Add your questions to the comments (below) and we’ll answer it!
Leanne: Hey, guys! We are here to chat all about hormones and weight loss and high fat eating and I have a super awesome guest with me today. This is so exciting.
Amber: Hi, everyone. It’s nice to see you. Thanks, Leanne, for having me today.
Leanne: Yeah, totally. This is Amber.
Amber: Hi! I’m here in Calgary and I’m a nutrition educator who specializes in gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free living, as well as a big supporter of helping people through emotional eating and binge eating, and all the stuff that we’ve been through ourselves in the past, right?
Leanne: Yeah, and she knows a lot about weight loss and hormones and everything. So, I’m super happy to have you on our channel. Show? I never know what to call it.
Amber: All of the above.
Leanne: For those of you that are new, my name is Leanne and I am the face behind healthfulpursuit.com and nutrition educator, specializing in high fat eating and ketogenic awesomeness with a little bit of vegan, a little bit of emotional eating, all sprinkled in. Where I don’t know things, Amber makes up for the awesomeness. We were having coffee a couple months ago now and we were just chatting about this topic back and forth for a long time and then we said, we better just do this and record it and see what happens, so let’s get right to it because we have fifty thousand questions.
Amber: Which is fantastic. it’s great to see people wanting to learn a little bit more for their own well-being.
Leanne: Totally. I 100% agree with you. We paneled our communities, both of us, and we came up with a bunch of questions about hormones and weight loss and high fat eating and a bunch of different things. They’re on my handy dandy iPad. I’m just going to read them out and we’re going to hash it out and try to come up with a solution for almost everything or at least a couple steps that people can do to get started. The first question is, how do I start healthy weight loss when I’m eating healthy but not losing weight or my weight is going up? Yeah, that’s frustrating. The first thing I would say is ditch your scale.
Amber: I completely agree. Smash it. Find a way that you want to destroy that thing, whether it’s with a sledgehammer, you drive over it, you drop it off of a big balcony, of course, make sure there’s no one below but get rid of it because we both went through this of really letting that number dictate happiness and how good you feel about yourself and it ruins you.
Leanne: It totally does, and you actually did a Smash the Scale event where people threw in their scales. That can be a huge thing. For me, I’ve started weight training and I do still have a scale because I like to know. I jump on it like once a month and my weight’s gone up by quite a bit. But do you know what? I feel stronger and tighter and more amazing. You can’t let that dictate anything. If you’re going to keep the scale, hide it or put it somewhere, or just trash it and wait until you go to the doctor or something. I would say that’s a big one.
Amber: Totally, and just to add onto that, weighing yourself once a month, I think, is healthy, Just a very minimum and if you can’t keep it to that then, yeah, all of the above. Smash it. Give it to your neighbor or something, and then go over and visit them once a month.
Leanne: Totally. Hold onto this for me and don’t use it.
Amber: Exactly. I think that’s so important and I think another thing to do is really evaluate just simple lifestyle things like are you getting enough sleep?
Amber: If you’re not getting enough sleep that can completely hinder weight loss because we’re stressing our bodies out and then we’re pushing them via exercise.
Leanne: Yeah. Oh, and something that I see a lot of is when people want to lose weight, they reduce their amount of calories by a lot and what’s really interesting about our metabolism, it’s kind of cool but also not so cool. Say, Leanne burns 2,000 calories a day and then she decides she wants to lose weight so she goes down to 1,500 calories a day. Our metabolism knows what we’re doing so it will down regulate to that 1,500 calories. You’ll be losing, losing weigh and all of a sudden, you’ll hit a plateau, you’ll start gaining weight and that’s just because your metabolism is saying, we’re only getting 1,500 calories so we’re just going to run everything on 1,500. Then you lower it even more and you lower it even more. I’ve seen people eating seven, eight hundred calories a day and then, you’re not healing, you’re not sleeping well and the last thing your body’s wanting to do is lose weight. Even though you might be eating healthy, like all the awesome things in the world, if you’re not eating enough …
Amber: It totally counteracts. That’s the problem is we’ve been raised in a society to think, eat less, exercise more. It’s really unraveling everything we’ve been taught and relearning how to take care of ourselves. That’s another great factor. Another one, drink enough water. How many people still don’t even drink water, right? That’s so important for cell hydration, elimination. Every function in the body. People that are dehydrated, weight loss makes it more difficult when don’t drink enough water.
Leanne: If you hate water, like I did at one point, even though sometimes I’ll brew a little bit of herbal tea in the morning and just add a quarter of a cup to my water and I, like seriously, here’s my mason jar of water. I’ll just add a little bit of tea to that just to give it something?
Amber: For sure.
Leanne: It doesn’t need to be those drops of sugar free grossness. No, don’t even go there.
Amber: That doesn’t even help weight loss either.
Leanne: No. The next one is how does inflammation hinder weight loss?
Amber: That’s a great question.
Amber: There’s many answers to that question. In the first place, if there’s inflammation going on, we can be carrying around water retention and we can be carrying around anywhere five to ten what seems like pounds but it’s really that inflammation.
Leanne: Water weight is a big one. I know that with my community, with the carb ups that we’ve been doing, when you’re in a state of nutritional ketosis, where you’re eating a lot of fat, low carbohydrate, keto to boost your hormones, you’re eating carbohydrates every once in a while to boost that, help you lose weight. Carbs hold a lot of water. If you’re eating carbohydrates on a daily basis and not doing a low carb, high fat, keto eating style, you’re holding, I think it’s for every one gram of carbohydrate, there’s four grams of water that you’re retaining.
Amber: That is a lot.
Leanne: That’s a lot of water!
Amber: Especially if most people are consuming 250, 300 plus grams of carbs a day. Probably a lot of people a lot more.
Leanne: Totally. That’s why when you go low carb, keto, that first ten-ish pounds is water weight, because you’re getting rid of that water. Just an inflammation from a water perspective and the amount that you’re carrying, that’s a huge deal.
Amber: Another big thing I find with people right now is food intolerances, food sensitivities create a lot of inflammation in the body. That can be a hindrance so can you figure out a way to find out if you’re gluten intolerant, diary intolerant, egg intolerant, nut intolerant, whatever it is? Identifying those food sensitivities makes a huge difference because then people can eliminate them for a little while, let the body calm down and then all of a sudden they’re like, wow, I lost 10 pounds or 15 pound and sgain, it’s that inflammation.
Leanne: I know for my sister, she was allergic to gluten and ate it and then she found out but she lost a lot weight just by going gluten free. It was crazy and now she maintains such a beautiful figure. I guess just this natural thing her body has gotten into because she’s eliminated the thing that was making her inflamed and when your digestion is inflamed, the last thing your body’s thinking is let’s lose weight.
Amber: Exactly and I think that’s a really important point to bring up is, if the body is in any state of stress, whether it’s inflammation or food allergies or calorie restriction, we must ask what is going on so that we can correct it so that we can get the body back into a priority of weight loss, because it will make it a last priority if there are more important things going on.
Amber: I think if people understand that they’ll be less hard on themselves for, oh, why isn’t the scale moving? Why am I not losing weight?” We can just start this whole negative self-talk and really want to give up if we don’t see the scale move, even in a few weeks.
Leanne: Amen. Third question. I don’t know how to stop binge eating? It’s overwhelming and where do I even start to make changes? That’s a big thing and it goes so much deeper than just binge eating. A lot of it is that self-sabotaging behavior. I know even for myself, there’s days where I wake up and I’m like, yeah, my abs are showing, and then I’ll do stuff to ruin that. I will just eat too much. It’s that self-sabotaging so really, although binge eating, it could be because we’re lacking certain nutrients like magnesium is a really big one. I find if people are always eating chocolate and just like chocolate and nuts. Like give me more chocolate, give me more nuts.
Usually that’s because they need some magnesium, but if you don’t love yourself and you don’t love your body and it goes deeper than just like, I need some Magnesium in my life. Until we fix that, issue, bingeing is going to be a constant problem for you.
Amber: Exactly and to add onto that I think, again, we grew up in a society where we learn how, oh, if I do good on a test, I’m going to eat. If I do bad on a test, I’m going to eat. Happy, sad, whatever the time is, we really associate food with every part of our lives so for people that are having issues with binge eating, I always say to them as a first step, identify all the reasons why you’re doing it. If you can start to see, wow, I’m not just eating for physical hunger. Yeah, there is that lack of self-love component so I am self-sabotaging but I’m also eating because I’m bored. I have a habit of eating while I’m watching TV. All these different things, If people can start to identify those, then they can start baby stepping toward calling themselves out and saying, why do I want to eat right now?
Is it a physical hunger or is it an emotional hunger or a boredom, or it’s Easter so I should go out and buy that whole bag of Easter chocolate eggs and eat them because that’s what I always do, right? We tend to associate with old habits and old memories. There’s a lot around the binge eating button.
Leanne: They’re huge and also, too, something that I’ve been working on myself is planning dates and activities that don’t surround food.
Amber: That’s brilliant.
Leanne: Like, hey, one of my girlfriends, let’s go horseback riding or let’s go for a walk. Let’s not meet up for coffee or not go for lunch or do activities that don’t revolve around food because I find oftentimes whenever you get together with people it’s always about food. How can we separate that so we can learn that we can have a good time with our friends, enjoy each other’s company or even family members, and not have it be about food all the time?
Amber: Exactly. That’s a really great tip. I think the more we can step away from all that surrounding food, obsessing about food, the more we start to break the habit slowly of the bingeing.
Leanne: I love creating that list. That is an awesome tip. Getting into chia seeds. This is a good question. Does eating chia interrupt or prevent the absorption of vitamin? If so, for approximately how long?
Amber: That’s a great question. For me, I’d say it could depend on the state of your digestive system because I remember when I tried to be a vegan back in the day when I was hunting for the diet that was going to fix my binge eating issues, I was like, I’m going to be a vegan and I was eating chia seeds and chia powder like no tomorrow in all my smoothies and all my meals and I tore my digestive track up so much. Someone described it to me like you’re rubbing sandpaper on a wound over and over because every time I ate them I would just feel so in pain and then knowing that my digestion was not working properly and that I wasn’t absorbing properly, perhaps that could interfere with then me absorbing other nutrients.
Leanne: That’s a good point.
Amber: I think it depends on the state of your digestion.
Leanne: I always say to my clients if you rub the food on your wrist and it’s scratchy, it’s going to do the same thing inside your body.
Amber: That’s a really good analogy.
Leanne: Like, rice cakes. I don’t want that to touch any part of my insides ever. Have fun rubbing that on your skin. With supplements, for myself, something that I’ve learned is that fat soluble vitamins, so, you have your A, D, E, and K, they’re best taken with, say, if you do a blended coffee in the morning, like a rocket fuel latte? Awesome to take your fat soluble vitamins then because you’re eating lots of fat so you’re having your fat soluble vitamins. Awesome. Probiotics, always on an empty stomach.
Amber: Yes, I completely agree. Right before bed, usually you haven’t eaten for a few hours.
Leanne: For me, it’s right when I wake up I have my probiotic, have a ton of water and then wait a couple hours. It’s interesting, have you noticed that if you take a probiotic with hot tea, it makes you really sick?
Leanne: Never do it.
Amber: I’ve never had that happen before. Okay, I will never do that.
Leanne: It’s horrendous, it’s just not a good situation. I hope that answers your question about the chia seeds. What if you have too much estrogen? Would flax seed increase it?
Amber: That is a really good question.
Leanne: I eat a lot of flax.
Amber: There’s been a lot of, We were even chatting about that before with the estrogen. You said, for you, it’s helping.
Leanne: I have flax oil, I have so much flax. Every day I’m eating a quarter cup of flax because my naturopath said, because I have low estrogen, I want to increase my estrogen so I’ve been eating a ton of flax. Now studies have show wishy-washy back, forth on the whole flax thing. Some people are saying that there’s these receptors in your body and once flax seed is converted in your body by your healthy bacteria, so if you have healthy bacteria it will help convert it, that these estrogen sites can either be improved upon by eating flax or it can actually decrease or increase your estrogen. Some studies are saying if you have high estrogen, it will make it lower and if you have low estrogen it will make it higher but then when you look at things like the cancer board of whoever and cancer this, cancer that, it says just don’t do it because it’s inconclusive and we don’t know.
Amber: I think for this one, perhaps, if someone has high estrogen, err on the side of caution. Don’t be drinking flax milk, eating flax seed, using flax oil. Maybe, if you sprinkle a few teaspoons in your salad that that’s safe. Maybe you don’t overdo it. Then, for the people who have low estrogen, maybe go to town a bit more.
Leanne: Flax it up.
Amber: Flax it up.
Leanne: Go to town. Flax it up. That’s a good one. I like that.
Amber: I’m going to use that. Hashtag flax it up.
Leanne: Hashtag flax it up. My flax focaccia muffins that are literally just likes egg, oil, water, flax, awesome, but, we’re saying, for cancer maybe …
Amber: Play it safe.
Leanne: Play it safe, maybe don’t do it. To that question, there’s another question: Just recently I have learned that I have estrogen receptive breast cancer and, like you, I’m trying to eat right for my hormones. In your opinion, are my flax days over and do you think if I make your flax focaccia muffin by subbing flax seeds with approximate chia seed meal, will it work? We’ve already touched on the cancer bit but for the flax seed focaccia, totally, you can make it with chia. Probably not 100% chia but I think the recipe calls for two cups of flax. You could probably reduce it to one cup of flax and maybe do 1/3 cup to 2/3 cup of chia because chia’s really dense. When you cook with it. I’m pretty sure if you did all chia it would be like a soccer ball, maybe a lacrosse ball. Those are harder, right? I never did sports. This is a good one and maybe you have some insight. Of course you have insight. Does collagen or gelatin affect a woman’s hormones so as to delay menses or increase estrogen?
Amber: That’s a really good question.
Leanne: If you have low estrogen, as we age our collagen breaks down in our body. So, by eating collagen would be increasing our estrogen? I’m not sure it’s a two-way street back and forth.
Amber: Yeah, I agree with you on that one. Essentially, that’s if we are breaking it down. I don’t foresee that potentially it would build it up.
Leanne: No, so Hashtag, collagen it up, as well. It helps get rid of lines and crazy stuff. Your hair is going to be gorgeous except when you’re, I’m doing this no shampoo thing lately, Which is why my hair’s so crazy.
Amber: What are you using?
Leanne: Okay, so, totally off topic. Manuka noney as the shampoo and apple cider vinegar as the conditioner.
Amber: No way.
Leanne: Yeah, it’s crazy.
Leanne: Totally not related at all but it makes your hair better, apparently. We’ll see. Maybe give it a couple months. Next question is how common is it for women to stop menstruating after going off birth control pill and why does this happen? How long is too long to go without a cycle?
Amber: I think everyone’s a little bit different because I’ve had clients and different people that have gone off birth control, cycle gets more regulated, they’re losing weight, healthy weight, their inflammation goes down.
Amber: Their PMS is eliminated. But then I have the opposite where some people will go off of birth control and their skin’s breaking out, they’re gaining weight, they’re moody, their hormones are all over the place so I really think part of that comes down to where your hormones at when you’re coming off of birth control.
Leanne: Yeah, and how long have you been on birth control?
Amber: Yeah, for sure. Most definitely.
Leanne: I was on birth control for over 10 years and I wasn’t the healthiest weight when I was on birth control, either, so, I would say if your cycle hasn’t returned, I don’t know, six months …
Amber: Yeah, I’d say definitely don’t wait any more than six months.
Leanne: Then I would say you should probably not do what I did and ignore the problem for six years.
Leanne: And maybe get on it. Talk to a naturopath. Get an endocrinologist.
Amber: Check out your hormones and see what’s going on and see why. Another thing to add to that is if someone is going off birth control but then they’re also exercising a lot and losing a lot of weight quickly, that could also be another contributor to, why has my cycle disappeared?” If the progesterone gets too low, right?
Amber: Just be observing always, did I do anything else or change anything else, as well, when I went off the birth control, just to help put the pieces of the puzzle together.
Leanne: Next question. what can women in this position do to actively work toward regaining their cycle and how can a high fat, low carb, keto diet help?
I wasn’t sure on what kind of position? I’m going to guess that it’s, maybe you’ve lost your period and you’re trying to regain your cycle and how can a high carb, low fat … not high carb, high fat low, diet help? There’s a couple pieces here. The first one is if you have blood sugar irregularities, that can really cause some issues with your cycle. PCOS and blood sugar are like married together. Also, too, if you’re working out, we talked on that, too. If you’re doing the hardcore cardio and you’re trying to regain your cycle, you’re probably just hurting yourself.
Amber: That’s true because I can completely relate to that because twice when my weight dropped really low from exercising a lot, yeah, I probably was not eating enough at the time, totally lost the cycle and you almost just feel like you lose a piece of you. I don’t know, it’s hard to describe, but you just don’t feel like yourself.
Leanne: Or feel like a woman.
Leanne: It’s just not right.
Amber: It was largely because my blood sugar was way off, my cortisol was through the roof, and then just losing the weight that quickly. It just wasn’t healthy for my body. I think it’s also important as we are losing weight to really monitor our cycle and see, is it getting lighter every month?
Leanne: How’s my PMS.
Amber: Exactly. Look at all these things.
Amber: Yeah, because, to me, I’d rather keep on that five pounds and have a good healthy cycle then work my butt off to lose it and I look perfect but then my hormones aren’t working properly.
Leanne: [inaudible 00:21:03] hormone and weight gain, weight lose is a big thing. There is going to come a time where if your cycle isn’t regular or your hormones are out of whack, it will be really impossible to lose weight, gain weight. You body gets stuck in this space. Another part to your questions was, how can a high fat low carb keto eating style work for when you’re in this type of situation? If you’re like me and you’re hormones were practically nonexistent, pretty dead flat, cholesterol is a huge thing. Cholesterol is a precursor of, I think, almost every single hormone in your body so if your cholesterol is too low then how are you going to make the hormones?
Amber: How are you going to make the hormones? It’s not really going to happen.
Leanne: Totally, and a high fat eating style helps to healthfully increase your cholesterol. Another piece that it does is it naturally removes all of those sugary, garbagy, gunk things that make your blood sugar all weird. There’s a lot of fermented foods, which helps with your cycle and hormones. In a way it’s a very healing diet because you’re eating a lot of vegetables, a lot of healthy fats, and there’s really no room for garbage.
Amber: Exactly, and to add to that I think, too, being that if our hormones are way off, we need to insulate our body and help to support our nervous system. High fats are really good for calming all of that down and cortisol too. It’s just we still again, live in a society where people are so afraid to jump on the high fat band wagon sometimes but we need those good quality fats.
Leanne: We totally do.
Amber: It’s so important, especially when it comes to hormones, like you said, because if cholesterol is too low how do we … ?
Leanne: Wamp wamp. That’s not going to work.
Amber: We’re no winning.
Leanne: No winning action happening. Next question is, I have always suffered with a lot of anxiety and I’m afraid that this is partly affecting my lack of menstruation. Not to mention wreaking havoc on my health and hormones in other ways. I have adrenal fatigue and inflammation as well. Is a high fat low carb keto diet the way to go and I really love eating this way. It’s awesome that you love eating this way. I think, if anything, if you’ve found something that you feel good on …
Amber: Yeah. Stick with it.
Leanne: Just stick with it. Don’t listen to other people saying you have to do this, that, and the other thing. I’ll never be that person that says, you’ve got to do this because it’s the only thing that’s going to work. You have to do what’s right for you.
Amber: To add to that, I think if you have anxiety going on and you have inflammation and you have high cortisol, do you have a yeast issue? I see those three together all the time and if there’s a yeast issue, an imbalance of unhealthy bacteria in the large intestine, that can definitely contribute to anxiety. That happened to me, actually. I had such bad anxiety for such a long time and that was always partially do to my high cortisol so I think, get that checked out as well. That can be easily assessed through someone like either of us or a naturopathic doctor just to make sure and then you can eliminate and see if your inflammation calms and your cortisol calms down and you anxiety. I actually have some people right now that they’re anxiety is through the roof but we’re going through this protocol of eliminating the yeast and they feel so much better. Their mood is so balanced.
Leanne: That’s amazing. Also, too, if you eat too high fat and you have Candida over growth issues?
Amber: Uh huh. (affirmative)
Leanne: It can actually feed the Candida. I was reading something on that the other day. I know when I was going through my Candida protocol, I found when I ate too much fat I went crazy and that’s just because you’re craving too many ketones and ketones are fuel to Candida, just like sugar is. If that’s an issue for you it’s so interesting.
Amber: Such a sneaky sneak, that yeast. It’s so sneaky and smart.
Leanne: It’s so true. So if you don’t have yeast problems but you’re still having anxiety, sugar is a big one and I actually wrote about this for Amber’s cool magazine that she does and it was all about sugar stress and how to know when sugar is working against us and causing stress in our lives, because when we eat sugars it increases our cortisol and cortisol increases our sugars because cortisol’s there so we can run away from the tiger. When our body thinks we’re supposed to be running away from a tiger all the glucose and everything gets all ready to make us run. That’s a problem if we’re sitting in our van in rush hour and we’re completely stressed out and not running anywhere.
Amber: Exactly, which is almost all of us in today’s society. That’s a really point about blood sugar and the sugar and anxiety. That’s a big one. Then another one too, is making sure you’re eating enough throughout the day because people that are spacing, eating breakfast and then not eating again until dinner, it’s a great way to create anxiety because you’re stressing your body out. Cortisol. Blood sugar. Right?
Leanne: I’m so happy that you mentioned that because my community drinks, like, blended coffees and then we intermittent fast and stuff like that but for women it’s so important and I talk about this with my rocket fueled latte approach. Not a lot of women can go really long periods of time without eating because it sends the wrong messages to our hormones and our hormones need to feel safe and secure and awesome. If we’re not eating then our hormones get all wacky, so what does that mean for somebody that wants to practice intermittent fasting? Always, rather, never, leave a twelve hour window or more in-between the last time that you ate. Say I ate at nine p.m., say I had dinner at nine p.m., I would have my blended coffee at nine a.m. the following day and I always include just a little bit of carbs, so like hemp seeds or chia seeds if you can do them.
Sometimes I’ll do a little cacao powder and then a little bit of protein, ten grams or less, and that’s what I talk about with my rocket fuel lattes. That sends to a signal to all of our hormones, saying, we’re safe. It’s all good.
Amber: You can breath. Yeah.
Leanne: You can breath. You don’t need to increase cortisol because I find, if you just do a blended coffee with just fat your body thinks that you’re still fasting, which is cool, but it sends that cortisol, and you were talking about that before recording. It’s just like, ah, [inaudible 00:27:18] and shaky and stressed out and we don’t want that.
Amber: [inaudible 00:27:22] even people who will work out and then not eat for two or three hours, that’s like [inaudible 00:27:27] you totally send the cortisol way up and the blood sugar way off.
Leanne: And the cortisol will eat through all the muscles that you’ve just created.
Amber: Exactly. You’ve worked so hard to pump those big weights and now …
Leanne: You’re like, yeah.
Leanne: Yeah. Not a good situation.
Amber: Lots of really important little things.
Leanne: I know. It all adds up. That’s why we’re here.
Leanne: Okay, so we’ve kind of talked about this, but simple tips to removing the sugar out of your life?
Amber: That is a really great question and I feel like finally sugar is getting some heat put on it which is great to see and more people are starting to write blogs and trade information on how to quite sugar, how to cut it out. For me I always look at shifting from refined sugars to natural sweeteners first because some people for them to go cold turkey, it just totally doesn’t work and then there you are finding yourself knee deep in a bag of sugar. You know, using things like coconut palm sugar instead of refined sugar. Real honey. The white thick stuff that you have to scoop out of a jar.
Leanne: Thick. The stuff I wash my hair with. Seeing stuff. That’s what you want. Yeah, and just baby steps. I was addicted to sugar.
Amber: So was I.
Leanne: There was a time, I had a Costco membership when I moved out of my house when I was sixteen years old. I would go to Costco and I would buy a bag of Jujubes, the Costco bags of Jujubes, and that’s what I would eat. For the whole weak that was my meal with maybe some potatoes and ketchup. I really liked that combination. To go from that to quitting sugar immediately? It would be almost impossible so it’s those baby steps and once you’ve done the honey and the palm sugar and making switching out, how do you feel about Stevia?
Amber: Stevia? I’m partial because the problem is you see all of these brands coming out now that have erythritol, natural flavors and all these other added ingredients. I think if it’s white [inaudible 00:29:16] the shelf because [inaudible 00:29:17] is a green plant that’s dried and blended into a powder. It should not be white. I think in small bits a little bits okay but I still am not a big believer in just having one go-to for everything.
Leanne: Yeah. Switch it up. Totally.
Amber: In moderation.
Leanne: I know that some people can do xylitol and something that I learned about xylitol is that our bodies actually have an enzyme in it to break down xylitol but a lot of us don’t make it because we’re not eating it on a daily basis. So, when you first start with xylitol, do it very slowly …
Amber: Little bits.
Leanne: And make sure it’s from Burch in North America and not corn from China because that can make a huge difference, but little bits at a time and work your way up. That’s a huge one for sugar and fruit. I’m not a huge advocate of fruit.
Amber: Me either.
Leanne: Wow. Great.
Amber: I had a fructose sensitivity for a while so I just shied away and had bits of berries here and there but same as you, when I start eating fruit I get so hungry.
Leanne: So hungry, and hangover. I always feel hungover the next day.
Amber: That’s a really good point.
Leanne: Like, what is happening with life? Do you find that you have that same reaction with honey, because it is fructose?
Amber: Sometimes. Yeah. That’s something I do use rarely or I’ll just toss it in granola bars or other recipes but I always tell people, maybe use an alternative but, yeah, that fructose definitely …
Leanne: Fructose. Bad news.
Amber: It’s a little jittery. Makes me a little jittery. Even just little bits.
Leanne: Totally. I was washing my hair the other day and a bit of honey got into my mouth and I was like, oh my God. It’s so sweat. I’ll use it on my hair and it helps that healthy bacteria on your body but, yeah, I’m not a big fan. It’s baby steps.
Leanne: It’s a big thing.
Amber: For sure, and I’d rather see someone eat some honey than that refined sugar. The other thing to go along with it too, is making sure you are getting enough sleep, making sure you are drinking enough water because if we’re tired we’re at higher risk to crave sugar, or crave carbs, right? And making sure we are getting enough proteins and fats, especially good fats to regulate the blood sugar. Then for those people that it’s a habitual thing. It’s like, I grew up eating desert every night at dinner, well then we have some re-patterning to do with our habits in the brain, right?
Leanne: A lot of this stuff we talked about bingeing could also apply there.
Leanne: Something that I’ve been doing and that I recommend all my clients do, especially if you’re interested in eating more high fat is, oftentimes when we crave that sugar, that same cortisol release that we were talking about? Fats can help mitigate that pretty darn quickly. If I’m craving sugar, Jujube, gummy things, because I still do. There’s days where I’m like just put the sugar in my mouth just because that’s more of the habitual, emotional thing?
Leanne: If I’m doing butter that day, I don’t do grass-fed butter all that often because there’s dairy allergy and stuff but I’ll slice off a bit of butter cold and I’ll eat it. Or a thing of not butter or something to help satiate that feeling. Within, I don’t, thirty seconds I notice a different. Like, the fat just calms you down, sends those signals, like dude chill out, it’s okay, and I feel so much better.
Amber: Something else that I find really useful for sugar cravings, and I was desperate when I was trying to find something when I was a sugar addict, is L-glutamine powder. [crosstalk 00:32:43] amazing because it’s the only amino acid that crosses the blood-brain barrier and literally the minute you mix it in water and drink it, it shuts off the signal that makes you crave sugar.
Leanne: Shut it down.
Amber: It’s powerful. It saved me through some of the nights when I just would feel so vulnerable, like, if I don’t get my L-glutamine I am driving to the store right now and I’m buying a basket of sugar. Right?
Amber: It’s so good. I find it helps with anxiety. It helps with strengthening the intestinal lining. It’s a very powerful little amino acid.
Leanne: It’s so true and even, too, people with eating disorders that are recovering, like binge eating and stuff like that? It sends that same signal, like, chill out on the binge. That can be really helpful as well. Good call. This is a good question. Everything I’ve read about adrenal fatigue warns against intermittent fasting and intense exercise. I personally do not like to snack and prefer larger meals spaced between four to five hours apart. If I have high cortisol should I stop exercising and is the whole, don’t go more than three hours without eating, just BS that we’ve been fed?
Amber: That’s a really good question.
Leanne: We might disagree on this one. I’m really interested to hear. So, intermittent fasting. We’ve already talked about for women, I don’t recommend going more than twelve hours without at least having that blended coffee with a little bit of carbohydrates, a little bit of protein, and I talk about that with my rocket fuel latte approach, but say, we have that latte and then a couple hours later you have dinner and then following a high fat eating style, generally you’re not hungry for another six to eight hours so is that messing up with our cortisol? Is that sending the wrong signals? You’ve talked about this a little bit before in that when our cortisol, you know when your cortisol’s higher. What kind of things happen?
Amber: It could be anxiety, just heavy feeling in the chest. Just feeling really fatigued, just like you need to take a nap, and getting more hungry feeling, I find, those are some of the things that happen to me. How about you?
Leanne: Yeah. Same. I get jittery, like my fingers are just like … so, if you feel like that maybe you should eat.
Amber: Yes, even if it’s something small. Have something. This is where we really need to, instead of, like, screw all of the things that you hear and all of the advice, right?
Leanne: Yeah. Listen.
Amber: Listen to your body. Your body will tell you, so if you start getting those symptoms, have something.
Leanne: Hemp seeds. Bad part is, i keep a little bag with me all the time and I’ve got to say, if I’m like, ah, that’s why I put it in my rocket fuel latte, it’s specifically because there is an equal amount of fiber to carbohydrates so it’s not going to make your blood sugar go crazy and there’s good fats. There’s protein. It’s such a solid, good, balanced food and just that little bit, and if that’s not enough, eat.
Amber: Yes. Eat.
Leanne: I never say, intermittent fast and you can only eat every eight hours and you’ve got to follow all these rules. If it’s not working for you then switch it up. Don’t intermittent fast. You’ll still benefit from all the high fat awesomeness without intermittent fasting if it’s just not right.
Amber: Exactly, and to add to that I think the other thing too is if you have high cortisol and you’re naturally the type of person that likes to have a bigger meal, well maybe that does work better for you. Right?
Amber: Maybe it is that you’re eating every three or four hours and you’re fine with but again, you aught to listen to your body and then why else may your cortisol be high, right? What else is triggering that, and on the exercise end of things, that is kind of a catch-22 because I remember when I had sporadic cortisol and I would exercise, there were some days where I’d feel really good and some days where I wouldn’t but it kept going up, up, up, so finally I was like, I surrender. I’m going to totally pull back from my crazy exercising because once I started using a heart rate monitor and working with a great trainer I actually learned that I was working out wrong for the last six years.
Leanne: What? What were you doing wrong?
Amber: I was pushing myself far too hard, ever workout, for the whole hour. I was essentially in the E-5 zone which is super crazy high heart rate zone for the hour. Cardio, crazy weights, just pushing too hard like four or five days a week so that helped to push my cortisol even higher. I really think, get a heart rate monitor so that you can see where you’re at and then you won’t over do it. Then maybe you can do little short workouts or add some yoga in or some restorative …
Leanne: High Intensity Interval Training.
Amber: Yeah. HIIT is awesome. Don’t run a marathon. Don’t run for ten hours a day.
Leanne: Yeah, says the girl that did half marathons like crazy. I totally agree. With my cardio, like, I do cardio after all of my hot heavy lifting sessions but not, I see women on the treadmill just going for an hour. That is not me. I go all out for thirty second and then I rest for three to four minutes until my body is super chill. I don’t have a heart rate monitor, I really need one but I’m like, we’re totally chill. Let’s do it again because that steady state cardio, it’s not helping you lose weight. It’s sending all the wrong signals and I find when I do push myself too hard I have a really hard time sleeping that night.
Amber: Me too, and then the jitter like, ohh. Totally.
Leanne: So if you’re jittery, eat.
Leanne: Don’t force yourself to intermittent fast and maybe look at your workout regime and switch it around.
Amber: Then get a heart rate monitor. Seriously, it blows my mind because you can see essentially where you’re at and if you are overdoing it you can pull back a little bit.
Leanne: I find i always push myself so hard and it’s actually hurting you to do that. Just chill out. So, this is kind of inline with the whole exercise thing. I feel guilty when I don’t exercise often, especially because as a teenage I was pretty obsessed about it but lately my body hasn’t felt up to it. I see you posting about pretty intense workouts and I worry if this I recommended for somebody in the beginning stage of their recovery? I’m thinking, like, with hormones, eating, all that stuff, and is this something you should do after healing takes place?
We kind of touched on this. I go to the gym about four to five times a week but I’m taking a lot of rest. I’ll lift really heavy and then i’ll chill out, check my Instagram, take a picture.
Amber: I think it’s so important to really rest between your reps, like four or five minutes because again, you calm your heart rater down and then you allow for your body to rebuild and get ready to do that next set, let the lactic acid calm down, right?
Amber: I think that’s really important, taking rest between your reps.
Leanne: Yeah, and the human growth hormone, that’s why I started doing all this because when I got tested with my hormones it’s like, human growth hormone for me was super low and so my naturopath was saying, how you do that is working out and then up until that point I was doing yoga because my endocrinologist said, don’t do anything. Gain a bunch of weight to try to increase your hormones. Gain a ton of weight and go on hormone replacement therapy and just do chill yoga but the problem was is I was just fat then and felt like garbage because I wasn’t moving. I wanted to increase my human growth hormone and all my hormones and help with my bone density and all that but without going pedal to metal. I think it can be done. It’s just, like, if you’re the type of person who you push yourself really hard, perhaps you need a trainer to be there and say, dude, chill out.
Amber: Yeah because that’s the thing is, when you have a really good trainer that assess you first, runs you with your heart rate monitor to see where your ideal zones are, all these really important things, like don’t just be like, I want this trainer and then they’re throwing you into, do fifty lunges and fifty squats, and run, no, sprint on the treadmill for ten minutes. Make sure you get someone that is very thorough with you and explain to them if there’s hormone imbalances or things like that going on so they can cater the program to you because if they don’t know these things and or they’re not asking about them, it’s probably not the right fit for you.
So, being able to understand your body and share and then get what’s ideal for you and then on the whole feeling guilty about not working out, well, that’s something that you need to work on crushing because part of that is self-love and if we’re constantly feeling all this guilt we’re stressing our body out.
Amber: Cortisol, so that’s how it began and then here we are in the same viscous cycle so don’t be hard on yourself when it comes to working out. If you go hard one week and you got five days in the next week, you got one days or no days? Don’t be hard on yourself. Be like, you know what? It’s all good, next week I’m going to go three days, make a reasonable goal and then if you go more, great. If you don’t, no big deal.
Leanne: You know what? Sometimes when I get all stressed out about that stuff, I’m like, but I have an amazing family that loves me and I have great dogs that love me. I have a great life. I have a great job.
Amber: Is the world really going to end if I don’t go the gym this week?
Leanne: Not really.
Amber: Find good happy positive mindful stress relievers. If the gym is one of them for you, do that. If walking outside is that, do that, or yoga or maybe …
Leanne: Or laying in the sun in the grass.
Amber: That’s a great one.
Leanne: I’ve been doing that a lot. We’re in my office right now and in the morning the sun comes in and hits me in the face and up until a couple weeks ago I’d be like, uhh, but now I just close my eyes and wait for the sun to pass the window. It feels so good. So good. Maybe it’s twenty minutes until it passes and just taking that minute, or those couple minutes just to soak up the sun literally, can go such a huge way in your whole process. That’s a big one.
Amber: So don’t be so hard on yourself.
Leanne: No. Life is too short to be obsessed about that stuff. What are some key things that have helped both of you in your journey to hormone health? Being new to the high fat low carb keto eating style can be tricky at times and I often feel like I might be doing it wrong. I think that goes for anyone who feels that way. Do you have any specific tips, keto food ideas, or pieces of advice for keto newbies that are trying to be awesome, high fat low carb keto? That’s a good question.
Amber: Yeah it is. I say some things to look at is, the biggest thing, learn how to listen to your body. Are you tired? Are you dealing with high cortisol? Is your thyroid functioning properly? Do you have high estrogen or low estrogen? Get those things looked at first of all and listen. If you are jittery, things like that …
Leanne: A big one is, sometimes when I’m overwhelmed and stressed out and I know I should eat, I don’t know what to eat and so I started and I’ve been doing this probably for a couple of years now where I just stand in the kitchen, if you are in your kitchen or maybe you’re out, just standing or sitting in a quite place, close your eyes and breath, because something that I learned is that you can’t make decisions, the part of your brain that makes decisions cannot work when we’re stressed out. So, if you’re trying to listen to your body and you’re stressed and you’re trying to decide, should I have the keto flax focaccia muffin with the salad or a big burger, and you can’t decide which one is best, you need to calm down because you won’t make a good choice for yourself and your hormones. Your hormones will tell you what you need.
Your full body does. It’s just about removing that stress. Count your breaths for ten. Close your eyes. Just chill out and then you’ll be able to make a choice. I hope that answers your questions. The next one is, I understand that every women is an individual but how long does it typically take to start seeing positive changes in hormones? It can be tempting to quit after a month or two because it doesn’t seem like it’s working.
Amber: That’s a good question and as we both know, hormones take some time so patience is a great thing to learn how to bring into practice because it could be, I’d say, what? Minimum a few months, to years, depending on how imbalanced things are.
Leanne: When I started eating high fat low carb keto I took a bunch of blood tests and urine tests, just a bunch of test and then I waited six months. I fully committed. I didn’t check anything. I just said, I’m going to do this for six months and then do a checkup and a link to the video where I talk about what six months of high fat eating did to my body but I noticed some pretty amazing changes. I was able to actually lose weight which I hadn’t been able to for a long time and I was feeling better but it’s always nice to have a test that shows, here’s what happens. So i would say, anything less than six months, I mean, your body takes some time to transition.
Amber: For sure and you don’t want to set yourself up again to get frustrated and throw the towel in and just go back to your old habits because even with cortisol, like, mine was over a thousand and it took probably about two, two and a half years to get it back down to a nice healthy range but yeah, learning and understanding that it can take less time to throw it off and a little bit more to bring it back.
Leanne: That’s always the way of it, right? You’ve really got to want it.
Amber: That and too, I feel like sometimes these things happen because our body’s are trying to say, slow down. I need you to take care of me and so then we learn how to really take care of ourselves and listen to our bodies when we need to mind and mend our hormones.
Leanne: If your hormones that are out of wack are things like estrogen and stuff like that or maybe you’re dealing with infertility. Have you heard of Taste Tree?
Leanne: Holy Toledo that stuff is awesome for PMS. I’m using it for estrogen but it’s like the woman’s herb.
Amber: Yep. It’s really good for menopause too, for women going through hot flashes and all sorts of stuff like that. It is great.
Leanne: Perfect, and to go back to the other question, too, you were asking about what sorts of foods and stuff like that, I’m going to link out to a bunch of videos below this video on other videos that I’ve made and I’ll link all over the place to show you how to eat high fat low carb keto for hormones and to get into that too, so I’ll link up to that. This is the last question. Oh, my gosh. We’re totally getting through all of them. This is exciting. Every test that I’ve done by my conventional doctors has come back normal.
Amber: Story of our lives, right?
Leanne: So for years I’ve had the feeling that something is not right with my health and obviously it isn’t and it’s frustrating that my blood tests never show it. My gyno says that my hormone levels are all within normal range. How is possible if I’m not menstruating? Get a new doctor.
Amber: I completely agree with you on that one because if they’re not willing to dig deeper for you, this is your body and your health, and it’s totally a hundred percent your responsibility to speak up and make a choice of, okay, this person is not going to help me so get a new doctor. Maybe seek out a naturopathic doctor or someone in the natural health field that can really and will take action for you and dig and dig until they can help you to identify what’s going on.
Leanne: You want a team. You want a person that’s one your side and oftentimes my clients will say, my doctor didn’t want to order this test because he does all this stuff.
Amber: So many. I’ve had that happen so many time, oh well this test isn’t important. Like cortisol? So many saying, this isn’t important.
Leanne: To bring everything into perspective, when I work with my naturopath and she sees my tests that are normal?
Leanne: The normal range is a huge range. A huge range and if you wait until it’s that crazy out of range, like, you’re in the danger zone, major, so you need to have somebody that’s on your side that’s willing to do tests. The type of tests that you want, to show the profile, like, your blood may look totally aced but if you get a urine analysis, like, Meridian Labs does amazing urine analysis for hormones, and if you tie them together with your blood and your urine and it’s a twenty four collection, it will show what hormones are not converting. Like, maybe you start off with a ton in your blood but then there’s nothing happening in your urine and so it gives that full picture. Without those two tests or even doing saliva so you can really get the big picture, you’re never really going to know what’s going on.
Amber: Exactly. I agree. Reach out. Get someone different. Get another natural health care practitioner’s perspective, like a naturopath so that they’ll do all those tests for you, no questions asked and give you the real answers that you need.
Leanne: That’s why we’re all here, to make our bodies better and not even better like look better but just work for us and get connected to that truth that’s inside. When we know what foods work good for us and what don’t, that’s a huge powerful thing, when you know exactly what you need to be healthy and it just takes, like listen. Always listen and always trust your gut instinct even if you don’t want to do it.
Amber: It’s always right. Always.
Leanne: It’s always right and I know that when I don’t listen to it, like there’s that little voice that says, maybe Leanne you shouldn’t have this, and I’m like, screw it, I’m going to have it anyway. Regret keeps in, like immediately. I’m like, what? Why? Why do I do that? That’s that self-sabotaging behavior and everything that we talked about today. Oh, my gosh, we totally did.
Amber: We did awesome.
Leanne: We pounded that topic. I need some water. My cortisol. I need from hemp seeds. That was just crazy. Thank you so much Amber for being on …
Amber: Thank you for having me.
Leanne: Channel and I’m so excited for people to chat about this about this with us, so let’s chat about it in the comments and get the conversation going and if you’d like Amber to come back …
Amber: I’d love to come back.
Leanne: Then say that to because that would be awesome. Okay, thanks guys. We’ll see you next time. Bye.
Amber: Have a good weekend. Bye.