arts & sciences

How hormones affect your weight

While your physical weight might be just a simple number, your body is far more sophisticated. It has intricate networks of hormones, glands, and internal feedback loops that all work to manage your weight. Much of this work in the background while you move through your life.

However, if you have extra pounds gaining on you over time, or your attempts at losing weight don’t seem to get anywhere, then you might start wondering if those hormones are imbalanced. Your body has hormones for hunger, appetite, sex, blood-glucose control and stress. Are they all getting along?

These hormones definitely impact your weight, but there are also things you can do about it.


What changes are 

Routine fluctuations in hormones will influence your weight to some degree. For example, menopause might add a few pounds, but such things don’t require ‘fixing’ per se.

Quite a few different hormones are responsible for regulating body weight, so you can’t just pinpoint one. It is useful to know the difference between HGH and testosterone, but you should also keep in mind that both play an important role in your well-being.

What should be addressed is when hormones result in drastic changes to your body’s weight. Hypothyroidism is one such concern, and Cushing’s disease is another condition where there needs to be real diagnosis and proper treatment.


What are the main hormones and their functions?

There are far too many hormones to recount here but here is a handful that you should briefly know about:

Insulin and cortisol

Two hormones come into play here. One is insulin, and the other is cortisol. Together, they regulate your blood sugar, which your doctor might call blood glucose.

Insulin can tell your body to use glucose or sugar for fuel or store it for later use as body fat. When you gain weight, your insulin sensitivity goes down, eventually moving into insulin resistance where cells don’t even respond to it. This can turn into type 2 diabetes.

Thyroid hormones

Your thyroid gland is in the lower area of your neck, towards the front. It’s responsible for making thyroid hormones controlling many functions, including how fast or slow your body will burn calories.

The release of thyroid hormones is influenced by even more hormones coming from the pituitary glands and hypothalamus in your brain. Your doctor can diagnose you for both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism to find treatments and medications that balance your hormone levels.

Estrogen and testosterone

While both men and women have each hormone, women usually have more estrogen and men have more testosterone. In both cases, the relationships these hormones have with physical weight is complicated. Men that have low testosterone levels and restore it tend to have better metabolism.

The primary role of testosterone is burning fat and building up muscle instead. It’s also responsible for higher levels of motivation, energy, and libido in both genders.

Men with symptoms of weight gain that might be a result of imbalances in sex hormones should look into their diet. High-fiber carbs and healthy proteins are crucial, as is stress reduction.

This hormone does more than just develop specific sex characteristics, as it also impacts how people use their glucose for energy. Estrogen preserves cognition, memory, bone health, impacts insulin sensitivity, and lowers the odds of cardiovascular disease.

Male bodies sometimes turn testosterone into estradiol, which is a primary form of actual estrogen. Called aromatization, this process can imbalance estrogen levels in men to the point of increasing belly fat.


How to treat hormonal weight gain

Fortunately, for all the problems that hormones might cause you in gaining weight and having difficulty losing it, there are treatment options. They primarily focus on exercise, medications, and natural measures.

Start working out.

Nearly any workout routine is known to stimulate the production of hormones that regulate weight. Cardio workouts can triple the production levels of growth factor FGF21 and boost metabolism, compared to weight-lifting. However, resistance training can result in significant fat loss in the older and overweight.

Use medications.

Most of the time, hormone supplements aren’t great ideas for anyone who doesn’t actually need them. In fact, it can be dangerous, given the risks and side effects of such treatment. However, hormone medications are always available for those with a genuinely diagnosed and identified need.

Try natural techniques.

With your medical team, you can try out natural things on your own that might get hormones to stop blocking your weight loss, including the following techniques:

  • Getting your RDA of protein
  • Reducing your consumption of alcohol and processed foods
  • Avoiding sugar and refined carbs
  • Emphasizing high-fiber options among fruits, grains, and vegetables
  • Avoiding chronic dieting

Get professional help.

If you are having a hard time losing your extra weight, regardless of what you try and do, then consult your physician to find out what’s going on. See if they can refer you to a dietitian who can help you in working out an effective and healthy eating plan.

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