At the Worx in Alexandria, VA, I help a lot of overweight women with a hormone imbalance shed their extra pounds. Hormones do affect your weight loss efforts. Of course, it’s not the same for everyone, sometimes the weight gain comes from a sedentary lifestyle and poor eating habits. Hormonal imbalances are difficult to dealt with, particularly for women going through menopause, where there are changes daily and people going through stressful times.
If you’re in menopause or perimenopause, expect hormonal problems.
Whether it’s hot flashes, weight gain or other symptoms of menopause, they all come from reducing estrogen and progesterone levels. Higher estrogen levels cause you to gain weight, so you probably wouldn’t expect that during perimenopause or menopause, but it happens. Since both progesterone and estrogen levels are dropping, sometimes the progesterone level drops faster, making estrogen more dominant. Higher levels of estrogen, called estrogen dominance, can cause weight gain, no matter what your age, even when you’re not at any stage of menopause.
Estrogen dominance can be one cause of weight gain, but there are others.
Three other types of hormones affect your weight. The balance between ghrelin and leptin—the hunger/satiety hormones, insulin and cortisol. Not only do these hormones affect your weight gain, but where that weight settles on your body. For instance, cortisol, a stress hormone, puts fat on your abdomen, often called belly fat. It’s called visceral fat and is the most dangerous type of fat and most difficult to eliminate. The ghrelin/leptin balance tells your body when you’re hungry and when your full. Too much ghrelin and you’ll be hungry all the time. Insulin regulates blood sugar. If it isn’t functioning properly weight gain is easier and you have a problem losing weight.
It may sound depressing, but there are ways to regulate these hormones.
When you participate in physical activity, you’re giving yourself a head start on regulating hormones. Physical activity not only helps regulate insulin levels and reduce insulin sensitivity, it can burn off the hormones of stress and improve testosterone levels. If you worry about testosterone being a male sex hormone, even women need it for building muscle and shedding fat. Sometimes, just worrying about losing weight can be stressful enough it causes high cortisol levels that causes weight gain around the middle. In fact, cortisol may be the biggest block to weight loss, so controlling stress is imperative.
- Strength-building exercises and HIIT—high intensity interval training are far better for regulating hormones than chronic aerobic exercises like running. Don’t forget meditative types of exercises like tai chi.
- Getting adequate sleep is extremely important to regulating hormone levels. Even one night without adequate sleep can make hormones go out balance.
- Eat healthier. Consume less red meat and avoid caffeine and sugar. Healthy fat is important for your diet, so add an avocado or two. If you choose to supplement, take a vitamin D3, B complex, magnesium and add bone broth for extra collagen and nutrients.
- Address gut health issues and your microbiome. If your digestive system isn’t functioning correctly, it affects your entire body.
For more information, contact us today at The WorX by Maia