The Biological Principle:
While it’s true that meat has a higher fat content than other sources of protein, the bigger problem is what’s hidden in the fat of most meats you find at your grocery store.
You are anciently hardwired by your own DNA and microbiome to eat mostly vegetables, nuts, seeds, the occasional fruit, and clean proteins, regardless of your blood type and ethical views. In fact, such native and unprocessed foods keep you lean and your hormones in balance, particularly estrogen.
Unfortunately, rapid changes in industrial agriculture and cultural expectations over the past century have outpaced the ability of our genes to adapt. Consequently, obesity rates have nearly tripled in the United States since the 1960s.
Agricultural policies were changed in the 1970s, allowing our government to subsidize corn and soy—which is fed to cattle to accelerate the production of meat and dairy—to the tune today of $30 billion per year. Meat used to be a luxury in the 1900s. Now we expect meat daily and consider it a sign of affluence.
Today, 95 percent of food is grown and processed by industrial agriculture. Put simply, our DNA-driven biology hasn’t yet adjusted to modern meat, and women are particularly at risk from the effect of meat on their estrogen.
The Connection Between Estrogen and Progesterone
When estrogen is in the normal zone relative to its counterpart — progesterone — estrogen makes you feel happy, sane, slim, and emotionally connected. These hormones are like fire and ice, and when in balance, progesterone is the ice that keeps the fire of estrogen under control.
Studies indicate that many women who struggle with their weight have estrogen dominance, especially after age 35, when progesterone begins to wane, according to Dr. Sara Gottfired, MD. Red meat and alcohol exacerbate the imbalance. Pursuing our analogy further, there’s too much fire and not enough ice. You make too much estrogen and not enough progesterone.
The increased estrogen is not a good thing. It creates inflammation in the body that can be hidden but causes fat loss resistance, mood problems, and gut issues.
Estrogen dominance isn’t just a problem of increased estrogen levels in your body. It can also result from high or low levels of other hormones like excess insulin, medical problems like obesity (fat cells make estrogen), and other environmental exposures, such as skincare products and plastics.
How Insulin and Estrogen Can Block Metabolism
One reason that estrogen dominance is connected to fat-loss resistance is because of the cross-talk between two important hormones of metabolism: insulin and estrogen.
When you are insulin resistant, which means your cells can’t absorb the extra blood glucose your body keeps generating from the food you eat, your liver converts the glucose into fat (see chapter 4 of The Hormone Reset Diet to learn more). Those extra fat cells are now extraneous estrogen-making laboratories. Rather than being your best friend, excess estrogen does a backflip and wreaks havoc on your ability to burn and lose fat. The best way to interrupt the cycle is to eliminate meat (and alcohol) and increase fiber.
To make matters worse, beginning in your early forties you become resistant to estrogen because your receptors go into semi-retirement and your estrogen levels climb higher to try to get the attention of those receptors. As a result, your memory falters, you feel irritable, and fat attaches like Krazy Glue to your waist. You are now officially resistant to fat loss, regardless of your weight, and it gets even worse in menopause. Put it all together, and you can understand why so many women begin to experience slow metabolism and fat-loss resistance after age forty.
According to Dr. Sara Gottfried, the solution is to forgo meat and alcohol and consume one pound of vegetables per day with the addition of detoxing every 3 to 6 months.
The bottom line: Too much estrogen keeps you fat by creating a vicious cycle, which must be broken to help you lose weight permanently.
The Science Behind Meatless
The connection between meat and estrogen is profound. When you eat conventionally raised red meat, estrogen overload is more likely. When you go meatless, your estrogen decreases. Not surprisingly, vegetarians have the edge here. That could be due to the hormones in the meat, the type of bacteria cultivated in the guts of people who eat a lot of meat, or a combination of factors. We do know that a meat-based diet is linked to a higher body mass index and that too much of the wrong type of saturated fat raises estrogen.
Fiber is shown to help you lose weight, feel full, and stabilize your blood sugar, yet meat-eaters consume half as much fiber as vegetarians. On average, omnivores eat 12 grams of fiber each day, and vegetarians consume 26 grams per day. In fact, estrogen levels in the blood of vegetarians are 15 to 20 percent lower than those of omnivores.
Higher estrogen in women arises from greater lifetime estrogen exposure and recirculation in the gut and blood, like bad karma. Scientists know that estrogen dominance is a common root cause of diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and certain forms of breast, ovarian, and endometrial cancer. This raised risk is especially true when a woman menstruates early, becomes obese, has never borne a child, or enters menopause at a later age.
The reasons to go meatless are evident. When you reverse your estrogen dominance, you clear the path toward a healthy weight. If estrogen dominance symptoms resonate with you, you can choose from our selection of detox programs.