Trying To Lose Weight But Can’t? Here’s The Reason Why & It’s Not Your FAULT
I am sure you know this but it is worth repeating, especially if you are trying to lose weight. We have all been there. We have gained some weight so you try to change your eating habits, hit the gym up, and take supplements. Sadly, the weight doesn’t come off but meanwhile, your friend has dropped 10 pounds without even breaking a sweat.
Well, let me tell you it may not be your fault at all but your hormones.
Your body heavily relies on an intricate network of glands, hormones, and internal feedback loops to keep your weight in check. This weight-management system usually works on autopilot as you go about your day.
So, when that extra weight creeps on, or those weight loss attempts are leaving you sluggish it stands to reason that one would think that maybe your hormones are out of whack.
Below, an endocrinologist and a dietitian-author describe how hormones affect weight and what you can do to put them back in balance.
Here is more:
Normal hormonal fluctuations may affect weight on a minor scale. For instance, you might put on a few pounds with menopause. But that doesn’t mean your hormones need to be “fixed” somehow.
“There are a lot of hormones involved in the regulation of body weight,” says Dr. Joshua Thaler, an endocrinologist at the UW Medicine Diabetes Institute and an associate professor with the University of Washington department of medicine in Seattle. “But to argue that they cause weight loss or weight gain in a human context – meaning that I can point to a hormone and say, this is your problem; this is what’s going on – that’s really not the case.”
However, certain conditions involving hormones can lead to substantial changes in body weight. Cushing’s disease and hypothyroidism are prime examples of diseases that require diagnosis and medical treatment.
“There are some pathologies that are caused by excess or lack of hormones that lead to weight gain,” Thaler says. “That’s very clear. So, if you have low thyroid or too much cortisol, those will both cause weight gain. But those are specific diseases. Those are not the common cause of common obesity.”
Hunger and Appetite
Feeling ravenous or satiated? Leptin and ghrelin play a big role in hunger and appetite.
“Leptin is the primary body weight-regulating hormone made by fat tissue,” Thaler says. “Leptin is always thought of as the brake on weight gain – it’s supposed to keep you thin. So, as you gain weight, your leptin levels go up to fight that, to kind of keep you normal.”
But don’t assume that low leptin levels contribute to obesity. “We’ve known that obese people actually don’t lack leptin,” Thaler say. “They have high levels. But this idea of ‘leptin resistance’ came along: ‘Well, they make a lot of it; they just don’t respond to it.'”
However, leptin resistance is controversial, Thaler says. “In terms of the real world, you can’t really do anything directly to affect your leptin system,” he says. “If you exercise, and restrict your diet and lose weight, then your leptin levels drop. That’s great. But that’s not the reason, per se, that you’re losing weight.”
Ghrelin is released by the stomach to provoke your appetite, increase how much you eat and promote fat storage. “Ghrelin is our hunger hormone,” says Lacey Dunn, a functional medicine dietitian and author of “The Women’s Guide to Hormonal Harmony.” In addition, ghrelin stimulates the pituitary gland to release growth hormone, which actually breaks down body fat and promotes muscle buildup.
Insulin and cortisol regulate blood glucose, or blood sugar.
Insulin is produced in the pancreas. “Insulin helps bring glucose into our bodies to be used for fuel – or it helps store it as body fat,” Dunn explains. Insulin sensitivity is a measure of how well the body responds to insulin. As you gain excess weight over time, insulin sensitivity decreases and moves into insulin resistance – when cells lose their response to insulin. Insulin resistance is a key indicator of Type 2 diabetes.
Cortisol, a hormone produced in the adrenal glands, circulates throughout the body. Often called the “stress hormone,” because of its role in the body’s fight-or-flight response to stressful situations, cortisol influences blood sugar levels. It’s released through a three-part system involving the hypothalamus, pituitary gland and adrenal gland. Stress triggers the body to release extra cortisol.
“Whether we’re stressed, injured or running from a tiger, cortisol helps us mobilize the fuel sources in our body for energy,” Dunn says. “And we want that cortisol there in times of stress, infection and illness. But when cortisol is high for too long a period, instead of becoming anti-inflammatory, it actually becomes inflammatory.”
In terms of suspected links between hormones and body weight, “Cortisol is one that gets thrown around a lot,” Thaler says. “‘People have stress, and stress raises cortisol and cortisol therefore causes weight gain.’ But there’s not much evidence that this is really a major player in normal situations. The idea of targeting your cortisol in some way – supplementing or blocking – is not an approved or probably wise thing to do and could come to some significant harm.”
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