Are you a male who’s’ hard pecs have changed into soft man boobs? Maybe you’re noticing extra fat around the midsection? These are common symptoms in middle ages mean that have excess estrogen levels. But do not panic, with some dietary & lifestyle changes you can return to your masculine body of yesteryear.
1. Improve Your Gut Health
A big factor in decreasing one’s estrogen levels is improving your gut health.
While a healthy gut can help to eliminate excess estrogens from the body, an unhealthy digestive tract which is fuelled by refined carbohydrates, processed foods, gluten and alcohol can lead to leaky gut and an up regulation of an enzyme called B-glucouronidase, this breaks apart the bound estrogen that is getting excreted out of the body through the intestines making it easier to reabsorb into the body.”
There are various ways to help support gut health.
- Remove all gluten. This is a common gut irritant and for someone looking at improving gut health, it should be the top priority to reduce gluten load to zero. Even if you are not coeliac you may have intolerances to gluten. Chris Kresser covers this in great detail HERE.
- Increase probiotic and prebiotic consumption. Ideally done by eating fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi and kombucha. However a probiotic supplement can be beneficial if you are not eating these foods. be sure to check out why I don’t recommend probiotic drinks like Yakult in my article ’11 Reasons To Avoid Yakult & Other Probiotic Drinks’
- Use bone broth daily. Whether it’s in cooking, or drunk as a soup, bone broth has numerous benefits to gut health. If you don’t want to make your own I recommend using the bone from a Sydney based company called ‘The Art Of Whole Food’
- Use digestive enzymes. Take 2 capsules of BioGest with every meal. Do this for a few weeks to support your gut digestion.
- Increase high fibre vegetables (such as broccoli, cabbage and green pepper) to help assist the bowel in eliminating estrogen.
- As well as gluten, avoid other foods that irritate the gut such as grains, legumes, soy and commercial dairy.
2. Improve Your Insulin Sensitivity
Improving insulin sensitivity plays a huge part in achieving a healthy, lean body. What is insulin sensitivity? Lets take a look at what happens when you eat carbs.
Fat metabolism via lipolysis is halted when you consume carbohydrates. Carbohydrate metabolism will take priority over fat metabolism. Yes this means that lipolysis (fat burning) stops as soon as you eat a piece of bread.
Once insulin has done its job and moved the glucose to where it needs to go, lipolysis (fat burning) resumes. If all this works in a timely manner then you are ‘insulin sensitive’. The body recognizes the incoming carbs, insulin is released to carry out its role, glucose is cleared and the boy goes back to burning clean fat for fuel. Great.
However, not everyone’s insulin works this well. Some people secrete too much insulin, some people have cells that are resistant to the effects of insulin and diabetics don’t release enough insulin.
How can we improve ones insulin sensitivity? Mark Sisson covers this topic in great detail in his article ’25 ways to improve insulin sensitivity’. Here are the two best ways:
- Reduce Carb Intake. Low carb diets are shown to increase insulin sensitivity.
- Reduce total insulin spikes throughout a day by restricting carb intake to post workout only.
3. Improve Your Leptin Sensitivity
You may have seen the word leptin thrown about in fat loss articles online. Leptin is a hormone in the body that has powerful affects on hunger and feelings of fullness. When you eat, the body releases leptin. Increased levels of leptin reduce your appetite. Great. After your body has digested all the food, leptin levels will drop and another hormone called ghrelin is released to make you feel hungry again.
Years and years of overeating causes high levels of leptin (know as hyperleptinemia), which causes leptin to become less effective at controlling appetite. A horrible situation to be in, you eat, and yet you never seem to satisfy your appetite, leading to more food consumption in a very vicious cycle. I should point out that chronically low calorie intake can also lead to leptin resistance (another reason to avoid low calorie diets).
Just as we need to improve insulin sensitivity, we also need to improve leptin sensitivity. We will do this by:
- Eating nutrient dense foods.
- Avoiding excessive calorie ‘binges’
- Focusing on meal timing (see below).
4. Fix Your Circadian Rhythm
Not only is the quantity and quality of sleep important for fat loss, but when you sleep also has a massive impact on our fact burning hormones.
We touched on leptin and its fat burning and appetite suppressing powers above. Leptin works best when you have a circadian rhythm that is stable and in sync with your environment (people who travel a lot are at a disadvantage here). If your sleep times and circadian rhythm are out of whack, leptin (which is usually released at night – suppressing appetite, and burning more fatty acids) you will be more prone to late-night cravings. Often these cravings will be for carbohydrates as leptin hasn’t kick-started the fatty acid reserves to be released for fuel, and so you start eating sugary snacks – which in turn shoot up insulin. Adiponectin – another hormone that helps with fat metabolism – is also realeased around this time. However, the hormone isn’t very effective with high insulin levels in the blood – which will be the case if you have eaten sugary snacks!
So two powerful fat burning hormones are not only hampered if your circadian rhythm is out of sync, but can actually back fire and lead to more fat gain through cravings and carb consumption. If you are truly after fat loss, you should prioritise your sleep and getting to bed at a regular bed time (i.e. 1030pm each night) and block blue light at night.
Lifestyle factors such as getting to bed at a regular time, and exposing yourself to sunlight in the morning are best for improving ones circadian rhythm. But diet also plays a role. Look at implementing the following:
- Avoid long morning fasts – eat 30-90 minutes after waking, with little to no carbs & a lot of protein. The high protein meal is to help with resetting your circadian rhythm. Though fasting can be beneficial for fat loss, ensure you have a stable circadian rhythm before introducing morning fasts.
- Eat carbs at night. The science behind this is covered in great detail by John Kiefer in Carb Backloading. Studies have shown that by simply fasting all day into night time, and then eating and drinking a lot of calories at night, that your body will start treating night as day, and daytime as nighttime. The books ‘The Perfect Health Diet’ & ‘Lights Out’ cover this in far more detail and I highly recommend reading both.
- Carbohydrate’s have a unique effect on the body’s circadian rhythm, carbs promote sleep and promote leptin release for 4 – 9 hours post a high carb meal. High Fat meals don’t have this affect. Why does this matter? Well in a healthy/stable circadian rhythm, leptin levels are low in the morning, and rise to a peak in the middle of the night. So to help us not only ‘reset’ our circadian rhythm, but to also help maintain a stable, healthy circadian rhythm, the science shows that eating our carbs in the evening is best. The diet for the best for our circadian rhythm? Fat and protein during the day, with starch’s (carbs) and fats at dinner.
- Where blue blocking glasses and use screen filters on your devices come sundown. Blue light from artificial light sources has been shown to disrupt melatonin and sleep. More on this topic can be found in the article “How Candles Can Make You Lose Weight And Sleep Deeper”
5. Improve Your Liver function
“Estrogen is metabolized by the liver and cleared out of the body through the bowel, if this process is not working optimally it can lead to either high levels of potentially toxic estrogen or reabsorbing estrogen back into circulation.
To help lower estrogen levels, we need to reduce the toxin load on your liver. This can be done by:
- Reducing alcohol consumption to an absolute minimum
- Eating organic, low toxin vegetables and meats
6. Maintain Or Improve Muscle Mass
Training hard and lifting heaving has been shown to boost testosterone levels and improve insulin sensitivity. When it comes to training you want to lift heavy weights doing compound movements 2-3x a week. Along with that the following dietary tricks will help with your training:
- Aim to eat 1.65g of protein per kg of bodyweight (with an upper limit of 1.85g/kg to avoid any negative effects of excess protein consumption).
- Use a pre workout to boost amino acids in the blood. Thorne has a great Amino Acid Blend.
- Use a daily whey powder (either in a post workout shake, or with a morning smoothie)
- Ensure adequate intake of saturated fat.
- Look at boosting your Testosterone levels. The ebook ’29 Proven and Effective Ways To Drastically Increase Your Testosterone Levels’ is a must read.
7. Eat A High Fat, Moderate Protein, Low Carb Diet
The ideal diet to strip fat and reduce excess estrogen levels involves:
- A macro nutrient split of 60-65% fat, 25-30% protein, 5-10% carb .
- Once or twice a week (depending on training volume) using a higher carb refeed evening. Aka a ‘Carb Nite’
- Eating foods in the green zone from the Superhuman Food Pyramid.
- Avoiding gluten, alcohol, soy, grains, legumes and commercial dairy.
A sample days diet may look like this:
- Breakfast – High Fat, High protein, low carb – Ultimate Smoothie
- Lunch – Large vegetable & seafood salad, with lots of fats (olive oil, avocado etc), sardines or wild salmon with plenty of greens, some sauerkraut and a small amount of activated nuts & seeds
- Snack – Macadamia Nuts & dark 90% chocolate
- Dinner – Casserole or Stew made with bone broth, free range fatty beef with plenty of organic vegetables and a serving of rice.
- Breakfast – Bacon, eggs and steamed spinach. No Toast.
- Lunch – Green Curry with free range chicken, and plenty of vegetables with a side of cauliflower rice
- Snack – Avocado mousse with chopped almonds
- Dinner – Roast lamb with roasted vegetables with a bottle of kombucha.
Bonus – Supplement Wisely
Supplements can play a big part in reducing estrogen levels to a healthy level.
The following will all help with someone who has high estrogen levels:
- 50mg of Zinc a Day – This helps blocking testosterone being converted to estrogen. I use Thorne Zinc.
- Probiotics – for gut health & gut function to reduce gut dysbiosis. I use Floramend.
- DIM or Indole-3-Carbinol – which helps with estrogen detoxification.
- Amino Acids – Ideally through the daily use of Bone Broth, but a quality Amino Acid Blend would also be beneficial (Use 1 scoop of Thorne Essential Aminos pre workout to minimise muscle breakdown during training)
- Vitamin D3 – Vitamin D supplementation has been linked to increased testosteronel.
- B Vitamins and Omega 3 fatty acids – These assist with estrogen detoxification.
- Mahlers Estrogen Control – A popular herbal blend used to decrease excess estrogen levels.
Excess estrogen and the negative side effects can be fixed with proper diet, training, lifestyle and supplement changes. It does require time and effort but it is possible. Be sure to work with a coach or practitioner to ensure the best results possible.
Do you have man boobs? Would you be willing to implement the above changes? I’d love to hear your thoughts or feedback!