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How to Finally Lose Stubborn Weight by Correcting Hormonal Imbalances that are Holding You Back

As women enter their 40s and 50s, extra weight tends to slowly accumulate in the midsection. The reason? Hormonal imbalances! Losing those extra pounds becomes more difficult, even when you’re trying your best to stick to a proper diet and exercise regimen. Your hormones are disrupting your body’s core metabolism and weight control processes.

Thankfully, with a little understanding about hormonal balances, you’ll be able to make corrections to tip the scales in your favor. 

Your Hormones Explained

Different hormones are responsible for different effects in your body. As aging takes hold, knowing more about what they do can help you work around them for success. 

- Thyroid Hormones

The thyroid gland is often called the ‘master of metabolism.’ When it produces too many hormones, you get a speedy metabolism. Those with a hyperactive thyroid tend to lose weight easily. However, their appetites increase simultaneously and that may translate to weight gain along with other troublesome symptoms like heat intolerance and shaky hands. 

On the opposite end of the spectrum, when the thyroid gland isn’t firing off enough hormones, your metabolism slows down. That’s when you see weight gain, sensitivity to cold weather, hair loss, and a reduced appetite. People with low thyroid function think all of their weight gain is due to their sluggish thyroid, but that’s not always the case.  In reality, a low thyroid is only partially to blame for most weight gain. So, is thyroid hormone treatment a good idea?

According to one clinical trial, it was reported that people who had higher thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) before going on a weight-loss diet had better results for weight loss. However, the Harvard Medical School warns that even though taking the hormone may speed up metabolism, it can also increase your appetite, thus making it harder to stick to your diet.

Optimizing your thyroid hormone levels, including TSH, free T3, T4 and thyroid antibodies is an important first step and makes managing your weight through natural and sustainable approaches much easier. Designing an individualized treatment plan with actionable lifestyle strategies based on your body type, health status, and micronutrient levels is the next step to jump start your weight loss.

- Stress Hormones

Stress seems inevitable in our fast-paced and goal-oriented world. But if you are trying to lose weight, stress is an enemy you need to defeat. Cortisol is also known as our stress hormone and helps us react to challenging fight-or-flight situations by mobilizing energy stores for our body to use. However, research has shown that chronic stress keeps our cortisol levels elevated which can lead to insulin resistance and weight gain.

In one study, people who were given extra cortisol hormone ate significantly more throughout the day. They also tended to stray towards comfort foods which are higher in fat and sugar and makes weight loss more challenging. Since the abdominal fat tissue has more glucocorticoid receptors, stress has a tendency to cause weight gain around the belly area. 

Knowing that chronic stress increases cortisol levels, abdominal weight gain, and the desire to binge on unhealthy comfort foods, reducing stress needs to be a top priority. It’s important to note that stress can appear in subtle ways and doesn’t always feel like the world is closing in on you. Symptoms such as brain fog, muscle tension, increased cravings, and sleep disturbances are all too common signs of increased stress.

Whatever the cause may be, the first step is identifying that stress may be affecting your life. Only then can you make the necessary changes to break free from its effects. Your mind is your most powerful tool and learning to reframe distorted negative thoughts into a more positive experience can lessen our overall stress levels. Deep breathing techniques, meditation, hot tubs, and saunas may also help ease your mind, not to mention your tight muscles. So too can physical exercises like yoga, Pilates, or even a walk along a beautiful nature trail lower stress and improve our overall health. - Hunger and Satiety Hormones Lastly, you may be trying to do all the right things, but continue to have these struggles:

  • Feeling hungry between meals and snacking

  • Overeating at main meals because you don’t feel full yet

The key here is that these two things revolve around feelings. In biochemistry terms, these feelings are driven by a network of hunger and satiety hormones. When the hormones are out of balance, your feelings of needing to eat are more intense, but they don’t reflect your real biological needs.  Leptin is mainly produced by the fat tissue, which signals the brain when there is enough energy stored. If this feedback is received correctly by the brain, your body reduces your appetite and food intake. If not, then you continue to eat and feel hungry despite getting enough energy for the day.  Similarly, insulin also regulates appetite and body composition and helps signal your cells to store more energy. If your insulin levels stay too high, you will start to store more energy and fat.

Research has identified several other hormones that act to make you full and stop eating. Insulin, peptide YY, cholecystokinin, glucagon-like peptide-1, and oxyntomodulin all rapidly increase after a meal. On the other hand, a hormone called ghrelin stimulates appetite before a meal.

When any of these hormones aren’t working properly, such as the case where your insulin levels fail to decrease, also known as insulin resistance, the body has trouble recognizing an energy surplus. Insulin resistance also stops your ghrelin levels from decreasing, which makes it even easier to overeat.

The cause of insulin resistance lies in our modern diet and the toxins we are exposed to in our environment. Chronic overeating and inflammation from processed foods and sugar are key reasons insulin becomes less effective over time. Our hormones are designed to recognize real nutrients and turn on and off at appropriate times. However, additives from modern processed foods trick our body into thinking we constantly need more energy. 

Your solution to winning this battle is to ditch those processed foods in favor of whole foods. It might be worth it to work with a professional that can get you on the right track to taking in the foods your body truly needs.

Follow Your Journey to Balanced Hormones for Weight Loss

The hormones in your body responsible for your weight interact through a delicate system. When they get thrown out of balance it can wreak havoc on your whole body. 

Work with a functional medicine doctor today to check your hormone levels and discover ways to rebalance them naturally and effectively through diet, supplements and lifestyle changes.  If you’ve been trying to get rid of your excess weight for what seems like an eternity, wait no longer and get back in the saddle to feeling well inside and out and looking your absolute best!