Have you tried everything and are still struggling to get rid of that extra weight around your middle? While calories and diet quality are important factors when it comes to managing weight it may be your hormones at play.
How do hormones affect your weight?
Hormones support many important functions within the body, including your ability to maintain muscle, sleep, lose body fat, and experience stress and hunger. When a hormonal imbalance occurs, it becomes significantly harder to lose weight.
The main hormones that affect your weight are
Cortisol: your body makes cortisol in response to stress, but most of us are in a state of fight or flight too much of the time, and our cortisol is high as a result. High cortisol levels over time deplete happy brain chemicals like serotonin, affect our sleep, and make us store fat—especially in the belly. High cortisol is likewise linked to sugar cravings, food addictions. It also can affect the production of other key hormones
Insulin: Insulin is a fat-storage hormone. Insulin resistance or block means your cells can’t absorb the extra blood glucose your body generates from the food you eat—when that happens, your liver converts the glucose into fat. Insulin resistance usually causes weight gain and sugar addiction.
Leptin: High leptin causes weight gain and excessive hunger. Leptin is our bodys appetite suppressant. When you’ve had enough to eat, leptin signals your brain to stop eating. When you are overweight, your fat cells produce excess leptin. When the brain is overwhelmed with leptin signals from too many fat cells, the body’s receptors stop functioning, your body doesn’t get the leptin signal, and you don’t feel full. You keep eating food in an addictive pattern, and you keep gaining weight.
Estrogen: Estrogen dominance is when you have too much estrogen compared with its balancing hormone, progesterone. Having too much estrogen in the body causes a number of symptoms, including weight gain, moodiness, PMS, and heavy periods. This is common for women in their 40s with the change in hormones.
Thyroid: The thyroid regulates your metabolism, managing how fast or slow you burn calories. When the thyroid is sluggish, it can cause weight gain, fluid retention, hair loss or thinning, depression, and constipation, among other problems.
Signs your hormones are causing your body to gain weight
- Unexplained weight gain
- Your weight gain is only in your abdomen
- You crave sugar
- You don’t feel satiated after eating
- You have trouble sleeping through the night
The best way to get your hormones back on track and reinstate a healthy weight is to correct hormonal balance with changes to the way you eat, move, think, and supplement.
Start with diet: Your diet has a significant impact on your hormones so find out how you need to eat to support your life stage and eat in a way that optimises your hormones.
Targeted Exercise: move your body so you are feeling good and building muscle. This helps to support your leptin, cortisol and insulin levels. Your movement shouldn’t be causing you more stress and I would avoid chronic cardio. It should be fun, challenging but also building muscle and strength.
Manage Stress: This is so important to reduce cortisol and excess estrogen and support your thyroid hormones. Add more fun into your life. Find a restorative practice that will calm your nervous system. Prioritise your sleep to support your hormone regulation overnight.
Change your lifestyle. Remove processed foods, refined carbohydrates, sugars and sugar substitutes from your diet. Reduce or eliminate alcohol. Alcohol increases estrogen, coritisol and insulin and disrupts sleep so it wreaks havoc on your hormones.
Blood tests – Make sure you are having regular blood tests with your GP and testing your nutrient deficiencies. Check your thyroid is working optimally. Are your iron levels optimal? Is your liver sluggish? Have you checked your insulin levels? These all affect weight and how well are hormones are produced. For example not enough vitamin C can reduce progesterone production which is our calming hormone and balances estrogen.
Losing hormonal weight gain starts with finding the hormones affecting your weight. If you have an imbalance caused by an underlying medical issue, getting the right diagnosis and treatment will also be necessary. A number of hormone related conditions can cause weight gain including an underactive thyroid, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), or menopause.
If this sounds like you get in touch with how I can support you with finding the underlying cause and supporting your diet so you can experience more energy and feel more balanced. You can organise a free chat with me here.