Hormonal disparity: Actual culprit for weight gain

You must have seen many people eat too much or not doing any workout and still don’t gain weight and some people even when they don’t eat too much and are very regular on their workout find it difficult to lose weight.  Do you wonder why?? The answer is “METABOLISM”. And who decides their metabolism?? The answer is “HORMONES”.

Hormones are organic chemical messengers that decide about everything in your body like growth, mood and behavior, digestion and fertility and most importantly our shape and our weight.

See-Saw of Master Hormones: Insulin & Glucagon

Glucagon is the counter-hormone to insulin. It actually redirects fat for energy use and does not go into storage mode. In fact, when glucagon is present in the body, it will allow the body to open the fat cells, empty them and use the content for energy. In other words, it’s the key to the locked fat cells.

Insulin, a fat-storing Hormone: Insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas.  Insulin is a “key” that “unlocks” your cells for glucose (sugar) uptake from the blood in tissues such as muscles, the liver, and fat. This is an important process to make sure that energy is available for everyday functioning and to maintain normal levels of circulating glucose.

When glucose is present in your bloodstream, insulin blocks access to your body’s fat reservesAfter all, why burn fat, when you have sugar around? Insulin also causes the body stores excess glucose as fat under the process called “lipogenesis”.

When there is an interruption in insulin levels, the body gets resistant to insulin. Muscle cells, then, fail to recognize the glucose-bound insulin and glucose remains in the bloodstream. Hence, it causes a spike in the blood sugar levels and leads to weight gain.

Glucagon, a fat-breaking hormone: Glucagon is a counterpart of Insulin. It is also secreted by the pancreas and it actually raises your blood sugar by converting glycerol in your fat cells into glucose for fuel. Glucagon signals the body to release stored fat to be used as fuel under the process called “lipolysis”

The take-home message here is that when you eat something, Insulin is secreted that promotes fat storage and it keeps you fat by blocking access to your fat reserves. But when you are in the fasting stage, Glucagon is secreted which is essential for breaking down body fat and burning it for energy.

Leptin, a hunger-suppressing hormone: Leptin is a hunger-suppressing hormone!…..sounds good right??. But wait ..here is the catch! When we eat food rich in sugar, the oversupply of fructose gets converted into fat that gets deposited in the liver, belly and other regions of the body. These fat cells secrete too much leptin and this makes you “leptin resistant” making your brain stop receiving signals to avoid eating and making you eat too much in turn.

People with obesity tend to be resistant to the effects of leptin. Consuming anti-inflammatory foods, exercising and getting enough sleep may improve leptin sensitivity.

Ghrelin, Hunger hormone: Ghrelin is a hunger hormone that stimulates the appetite and increases fat deposition. Ghrelin levels are also high when people are on a strict diet or while fasting.

Cortisol, stress hormone: It’s known as a “stress hormone” because it’s released by the adrenal gland when your body senses stress such as physical injuries, daily stress (overwork, relationships, finances, etc), and even activities like lifting weights and cardio workouts. Chronic stress leads to an increase in cortisol and chronically elevated levels of cortisol can lead to overeating and weight gain.

Estrogen: Both very high and low levels of estrogen can lead to weight gain. This depends on age, the action of other hormones, and the overall state of health. To maintain fertility during the reproductive years, estrogen starts promoting fat storage at puberty. However during menopause, when estrogen levels drop because less is produced in the ovaries, the site for fat storage shifts from the hips and thighs to visceral fat in the abdomen. This promotes weight gain, insulin resistance and increases disease risk.

Progesterone: A male hormone, required by both men and women at adequate levels. Most adult women have about the same testosterone levels as a 10-year-old boy making harder for women to burn fat and build muscle than it is for men. Low levels of testosterone promote fat storage and inflammation. Conversely, Excess testosterone in women, especially around menopause, is associated with insulin resistance and belly fat. You can see why having this hormone in the right balance is so important.

Cholesystokinin & Peptide YY: A Hunger suppressing hormone: Cholecystokinin (CCK) and Peptide YY (PYY) are other satiety hormone produced by cells in your gut. Higher amounts of CCK and PPY have been shown to reduce food intake in both lean and obese people.

Fight or Flight Hormone, Epinephrine: Known as a “fight or flight” hormone, epinephrine drives the burning of fat and its release for energy in the body. Epinephrine can also aid in reducing hunger. Exercise is the best way to turn on epinephrine release in your body, interval training in particular boost up epinephrine.

Take-Home: The best way to get your hormones back on track is to correct hormonal misfires with changes to the way you eat, move, think, and supplement. 80% of your weight is determined by Hormone-food interaction, so you want to eat in a way that optimizes your hormones. Following are some tips to consider,

  • Minimize all insulin stimulating foods. These include white sugar, excess alcohol, and all processed and refined flours.
  • Pick glucagon/CCK/PPY stimulating foods at every meal. Reduce carbohydrate content of your meal and include high protein items such as chicken, fish, turkey, cottage cheese, yogurt, lean red beef, eggs, hemp, protein powder (pea, rice or whey).
  • Essential fatty acids. In addition to cold-water fish, nuts, and seeds – it is advisable to supplement with a distilled fish oil supplement daily.
  • Stay hydrated. Drinking 2 liters of water per day is critical for energy, vitality and overall health. No excuses on this one –just make it a habit.
  • Exercise: Exercise is by far one of the most effective ways to lower cortisol and other stress hormone response.
  • Sleep: A good night’s sleep can do wonders for proper cortisol secretion and weight loss. Remember you secrete growth hormone only when you are sleeping.

Pre and Post Workout Meals

You take out time to hit the gym regularly from your busy schedule, You pack your gym bag, you make sure your gym outfit is comfortable, you buy right kind of shoes too but….

Is all that enough??

You must have seen many people doing workouts daily and taking a low-calorie diet too and still don’t reduce their weight. The reason could be as simple as they are not having their pre and post-workout meals or if they are taking, it’s not at the right time or not the right food!

Just like how your phone or laptop needs a charge, your body also needs fuel before starting that aggressive workout.

Pre-workout Meal

Why: By eating a pre-workout snack, we’re going to reduce muscle glycogen depletion.

What does this mean?

During exercise, the body converts glycogen into glucose which plays an important role in contracting muscles. This is where CARBS comes into play. We have to replenish Glycogen stores so they don’t run out.

When you are doing workouts at the gym you need to fuel up your body, as your body needs the energy to carry out that heavy workout. If you are doing a workout empty stomach, it will increase muscle protein breakdown, which means in simple words that your body will start eating up your muscles for energy purposes. If you are looking for muscle growth then that can only happen if the production of protein increases protein breakdown… this is where PROTEIN comes into play.

What: So now it’s pretty obvious what we’re supposed to be eating a combination of Proteins and carbs before our workout to protect our body to go in “catabolic” state. Now you may wonder as they say that carbs make you gain weight…..STOP. There are two types of carbs, simple and complex that you require at different time and for different purposes.

Nutrient-rich examples of pre-workout meals include:

  • Oatmeal with berries, a few nuts, low-fat Greek yogurt and water
  • Grilled chicken, egg whites, brown rice, green beans, and unsweetened-tea
  • Turkey and cheese sandwich on whole-wheat bread with lettuce, tomato, and avocado, sweet potato or fruit and water

When: As we discussed earlier timing is important, try to eat your pre-workout snack 30-60 minutes before your workout. If you work out early in the morning and don’t have time to eat hours before, try a granola bar, banana or even dry cereal or crackers 15-30 minutes before you get moving.

If the workout will be intense or extra long, pump the snack up to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, protein bar or even a smoothie with whey protein, fruit, and water.

Post-workout Meal

Why: After a workout, your body is in the “Anabolic/Building” stage when your muscles are “recovering” and “replenishing”. If you don’t feed your body it’s going to start eating the protein/muscle in your body… and that will be the last thing that you want to happen.

Post-workout snack also allows you to gain more lean muscle, which leads to better metabolism and fat burning ability as well as faster recovery, with comparatively less soreness and future performance.

Therefore, try consuming the two macros in a ratio of 3:1 (carbs to protein).


What: Supply your muscles with carbohydrates to replace whatever glycogen was wasted off in exercise. Simple carbohydrates are ideal immediately post-workout because they break down quickly, such as fruits.

Consuming an adequate amount of protein after a workout gives your body the amino acids it needs to repair and rebuild these proteins.

Consuming 1.1–1.5 grams/kg of body weight within 30-45 minutes after training results in proper glycogen resynthesis

Furthermore, insulin secretion, which promotes glycogen synthesis, is better stimulated when carbs and protein are consumed at the same time

Exercise can cause muscle breakdown and high-quality protein, like milk, yogurt, eggs, cheese, and lean meats can help rebuild and repair muscle fibers.

Whey protein is a good choice after a workout as your body can digest it quickly and it contains the highest content of leucine, an amino acid that has been shown to help build and repair muscles after a workout.

Also, don’t forget to rehydrate yourself with fluid and electrolytes you sweated out during exercise.

Carbs: Include things like sweet potatoes, milk, brown rice, fruits, rice, oatmeal, potatoes, whole-wheat pasta, Dark leafy vegetables.

Protein: Animal or plant-based protein, Eggs, Greek yogurt, Cottage cheese (paneer), Salmon, chicken, protein bar, tuna, sprouted legumes, nuts, nut butter, avocado.

When: Although the timing does not need to be exact, try to eat within 45 minutes of doing a workout. The more you will delay having your post-workout meal the slower the rate will be for glycogen synthesis. For example, as little as two hours after a workout may lead to as much as 50% lower rates of glycogen synthesis.

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Home Remedies for PCOS

You just found out you have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Now what?

PCOS is a condition that affects 12-18% of women of reproductive age and causes symptoms such as excess hair (hirsutism), fertility problems, Acne, hair loss, weight gain, and increased anxiety and depression.

In some cases, a woman doesn’t make enough of the hormones needed to ovulate. When ovulation doesn’t happen, the ovaries can develop many small cysts. These cysts make hormones called androgens. Women with PCOS often have high levels of androgens. This can cause more problems with a woman’s menstrual cycle. And it can cause many of the symptoms of PCOS.

When it comes to treatment, unfortunately yet we don’t have any permanent cure for this problem. While many women successfully manage their symptoms solely with medication and hormone therapy, some prefer to supplement traditional treatments with more holistic remedies, while some opt for entirely natural alternatives.

If you’re looking for alternatives to traditional treatments, there are several evidence-based therapeutics and herbs that have been shown to be effective in PCOS.

Magnesium:  Magnesium is vital for hormonal balance, and most women are deficient in this essential micronutrient. Magnesium improves insulin sensitivity, reduces inflammation, and supports adrenal function, all essential actions for managing PCOS symptoms and treating the root causes of PCOS.

Almonds, cashews, spinach, and bananas are PCOS-friendly foods rich in magnesium.

Chromium: Studies have confirmed the powerful effects of chromium in increasing the metabolic action of insulin, which helps boost insulin sensitivity. This means a decrease in male hormones and fewer symptoms for those suffering from PCOS.

Foods rich in chromium include broccoli, green beans, tomatoes, barley, and oats. In fact, just one serving of broccoli provides 53 percent of the daily chromium requirements of 25 mcg to 35 mcg/day

Omega-3: Flax seeds are a very good source of fiber, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and lignans, a protein that reduces the number of available testosterone in our body. Flax seeds help in utilizing the glucose and insulin in the body, canceling out most of the side effects of PCOS

Fish oil can actually improve insulin sensitivity. In fact, studies have shown that increasing omega-3 intake increased insulin sensitivity by up to 43 percent.

This means the body produces less insulin, and that equates to less androgen production

Selenium: Selenium is important for improving liver function. The liver’s job is to help the body detox excess estrogen and environmental estrogens (phytoestrogens). When the liver gets the support it needs, excess estrogen get flushed out form the system

Sources: Brazil nuts, tuna fish, brown rice, chicken, eggs, cottage cheese, sunflower seeds, beans, oatmeal, mushroom, spinach, Milk and yogurt, bananas, cashews, and lentils

Zinc: Testosterone levels can be either high or low in PCOS. Zinc helps to balance out testosterone. Zinc, in combination with magnesium, has also been shown to reduce inflammation in women with PCOS

Sources of zinc are Shellfish (oysters), Meat (beef, bison, lamb, turkey), Legumes (black beans, azuki beans), Seeds (pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds), Whey protein

Vitamin D and Calcium: Vitamin D is a hormone that’s vital to your endocrine system. Vitamin D deficiency is common in women with PCOS. Vitamin D and calcium may improve regular periods and help you ovulate.

Other Herbs available in our kitchen: 

Licorice: Licorice has a long history as a medicinal plant and it can have a powerful impact on PCOS. One study found that licorice caused a significant decrease in total serum testosterone in healthy women by how the body metabolizes it..

You can take licorice root as a supplement, or you could make your own licorice root tea by adding it to boiling water and soaking for 10 minutes. Drink the tea twice a day for best results.

Fenugreek: Fenugreek is a medicinal herb that has some seriously strong effects on hormone regulation.

A 2013 study treated women with PCOS with a combination of either fenugreek seeds with metformin or a placebo with metformin.

They found that fenugreek seeds had significant effects on restoring regularity of menstrual cycles

Cinnamon: This condiment is a proven cure for type 2 diabetes. It also has the ability to stabilize blood sugar levels and reduce insulin resistance. Studies also state that this spice increases the odds of conceiving

Turmeric (curcumin): The active compound in turmeric is called curcumin. Curcumin may be promising for decreasing insulin resistance and as an anti-inflammatory agent.

Tulsi: As the ovulation process does not take place in PCOS, excess androgen is floating around leading women to have excessive facial hair growth and acne, and trouble conceiving. Tulsi can control androgen production and reduce insulin levels. It’s also an excellent antioxidant. Boil Tulsi in water and have it early morning for better results.

Bitter gourd and Ivy gourd:  These gourds have a potential effect on dropping insulin levels by inhibiting glucose uptake, suppressing key glucose-producing enzymes, and supporting the function of the pancreas in insulin secretion

Amla: The Indian gooseberry is a fruit that is adept at controlling blood sugar levels and improving fertility in women. Amla is also rich in antioxidants and vitamin C. It’s also a very good cleanser as it flushes out the toxins in the body and thus, aids in weight reduction. Take an amla and squeeze out its juice in a glass.

Probiotics: Probiotics don’t just help with your digestion and gut health. They can play an important role in treating PCOS. They can also reduce inflammation and regulate sex hormones like androgen and estrogen. Consider taking probiotic supplements and eating probiotic foods, like kimchi and kombucha.

What is Detox?

What’s the most common word you hear when it comes to a healthy lifestyle?



What does it mean?

At its simplest, it means eliminating waste from your body!

You might wonder from where is this waste coming in your body or Is it really there when you have been eating healthy already? Toxins come from everyday things we use.

Toxin Sources

What happens when all these chemicals and toxins enter your body?

It is processed by our liver! Our liver takes much of the burden of dealing with this chemical attack daily.

Our liver functions like an engine to filter out all dirt and chemicals from our body and in doing so our liver itself becomes embedded with so much dirt.

These toxins would normally not be much of a problem for a healthy liver, but stress, poor eating habits, lack of vital nutrients, and a busy lifestyle all affect the efficiency of the liver to carry out all its functions properly.

Hence, we need DETOXIFICATION!!!

How exactly does DETOXIFICATION work?

By removing excess toxins from the liver, reformatting the liver forcing it to flush out toxins.


1. Helps with long-term weight management by promoting healthy habits.
2. Increases energy levels.
3. Reduces allergies and build Immunity.
4. Improves digestion and reduces inflammation.
5. Helps to get better sleep and improves mood.
6. Positive energy.

How to DETOX

You can detoxify your body with simple diet and lifestyle changes and practices:

  1. Avoid Processed Foods: Stay away from processed foods that contain artificial flavorings, preservatives, additives and do not contribute to our health. There is added sugar and salt in them to make them last longer and taste the same. Nutrients and fibers are lost in the manufacturing process.
  2. Increase Fiber: In order to remove toxins from your body, you need to ensure you are eating enough fiber. Your diet should be around 80% fruits and vegetables. Eat as much as you can of green vegetables, including broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, onions, garlic, kale, mixed greens. The fruits that are the most helpful are those that are very colorful: blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries.
  3. Drink enough water: To flush out toxins from your system, you need enough water of course. Drink enough water to keep your urine clear or light-straw-color. It is recommended to drink 8 glasses of water every day.
  4. Sleep more: Detoxification of the brain called the glymphatic system occurs during the sleep cycle. Getting insufficient sleep impairs the glymphatic system causing toxin build-up and damaging the central nervous system. A restful night’s sleep also prevents mood swings and irritability.
  5. Embrace exercise: Just 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day can help work your sweat glands and release harmful toxins out of the body. Tiring the body out can also help a restful nights sleep. It also boosts blood circulation which serves as one of the important carrier systems of detoxification.
  6. Include Probiotic: Probiotic contain healthy, good and friendly bacteria that help kill bad bacteria in your gut and thus support healthy gastrointestinal function.
  7. Use herbs and spices: Rosemary, Thyme, Basil, Lemongrass & Rose Petal concoctions such as Gulkand, ginger, turmeric, Cinnamon, Black pepper, Tulsi, bitter gourd, etc put your intestines on the fast track to recovery whilst strengthening the immune system and digestive system.
  8. Meditation and deep breathing exercises: Lastly, the most underrated way to detox is mental health. A few short minutes of meditation & deep breathing and other mindful practices a day can reduce anxiety, depression and other complications.

When you protect your liver and other detox organs, you protect all organs and you protect yourself from many health diseases, viruses, and allergens.

If you need any help, a Coach or a Friendly Guide, feel free to contact us: support@modernmonk.in

We’ll always be there for you.


Empty Calories Vs Negative Calories

Empty Calories Vs Negative Calories

Not every food is created equally and not every calorie is burned equally

We all consider the calorie content of the food when trying to lose or gain weight. Calories are a measure of the energy stored in foods or in the tissues of your body. General guidelines for weight loss focus on eating fewer calories or using more of your stored calories through physical activity.

However, some foods are popular these days in weight loss diet because they are believed to be “negative calorie“ which means you lose weight by eating them.

This does not mean that these negative calorie foods do not contain calories. All foods have some calories and no food is actually “Zero” calorie but it explains the overall effect of certain foods in our body is that of “negative calories“.

Negative calorie foods are foods, which use more calories to digest than the calories the foods actually contain. These foods are usually plant-based foods that are rich in water and fiber such as grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits.  Since water does not provide any calories and your body takes a longer time to burn fibrous foods, your digestion and metabolism is “on” for a longer time, giving a jumpstart to your weight loss and increasing metabolism ultimately.

In other words, the body has to work very hard in order to extract calories from these foods. This gives these foods a tremendous natural fat-burning advantage.

Enriched with nutrition and poor in terms of calories, here are the 8 best negative-calorie foods you need to include in your diet. 


Celery: Containing barely 16 calories per 100 grams (as per USDA), celery is ranked high among negative calorie foods as 95% of the total weight is water. Packed with fiber, celery is also rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, and folate.

BerriesBerries: Indulge in these sweet and tangy treats without feeling guilty. Raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries contain just 32 calories per half a cup (as per USDA). Known for their anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants contains 95% water, berries are really good for your heart too.


Carrots: Carrots contain about 41 calories per 100 grams with 88% water. Along with being a good source of dietary fiber, carrots are also rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese, and potassium.


Lettuce: Next time you whip up a salad, add some more lettuce. It contains only 6 calories per 100 grams with 95% water, lettuce is not only low in calories but it is also rich in fiber, vitamin B, folic acid, and manganese.


Broccoli: It contains only 34 calories per 100 grams with 89% water. Broccoli is ranked high amongst superfoods. It is packed with fibers and antioxidants and studies have shown that they may also have certain anti-cancer properties.


Grapefruit: Containing about 40 calories per 100 grams with 92% water, grapefruit is a storehouse of vitamin C, folic acid, and potassium along with soluble fiber pectin.



Tomatoes: It contains merely 19 calories per 100 grams with 94% water. Apart from being a juicy and delicious source of dietary fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. They also contain lycopene, an antioxidant known to protect the skin from harmful UV rays. Tomatoes can also prove effective in lowering your cholesterol levels.


Cucumbers: This refreshing delight contains 16 calories per 100 grams with 95% water! Cucumbers are full of minerals, vitamins, and electrolytes and are extremely hydrating. It is also known as the classic cooling food which helps maintain the body’s water balance on hot days.


Watermelon: Watermelons contain 30 calories per 100 grams with 91% water. Watermelons are also rich in lycopene which can help protect the heart. The citrulline in the rind and the flesh of watermelon can also ensure smooth blood flow and enhanced immunity.


Apples:  Containing about 50 calories per 100 grams with 86% water, apple is the fiber-rich snack you must keep in your bag to beat your mid-day hunger pangs. Apples are high in pectin, a type of soluble fiber that encourages weight loss, and releases sugar gradually to help regulate the body’s blood sugar levels.

Other similar fruits and vegetables, such as lemons, cabbages, berries, or zucchini, are commonly included in these lists as well.

Further, because of the high fiber content, these negative calorie foods have a very low glycemic index and release sugar very slowly thereby giving it very little chance to get converted into fat. Additionally, fiber takes longer to flush out from our body and stay for longer delaying hunger.

In contrast, “empty calories” are the ones, which when consumed generate an immense amount of calories. The main source for empty calories food is fat and simple carbohydrate in refined sugar that contains no nutritional value. These fats are solid at room temperature, including shortening, most saturated fat in meat and dairy products and trans fat, manufactured to be solid at room temperature.

Refined sugar spikes the fat-storage hormone insulin, and poor-quality fats impair mitochondrial function and contribute to inflammatory weight gain.

For instance, a piece of dessert consisting of 400 calories may require only 150 calories to get digested by our body, resulting in a net gain of 250 calories which is added to our body as fat!

However, for negative calorie food, if you eat 100 calories of a food that requires 150 calories to digest, then you have burnt an additional 50 calories simply by eating that food.”

Healthy Living By Modern Monk

The take-home Message

Let’s start swapping empty calorie items with negative calorie food items. Making smart and tasty exchange can help you fill up on nutrients and satisfy your taste buds too.