- 1 Can Hormones Cause Weight Gain? Understand WHY You Are Struggling With Those Extra Pounds.
- 1.1 How Do I Shed This Extra Weight If The Hormone & Weight Gain Relationship Is So Complex?
Can Hormones Cause Weight Gain? Understand WHY You Are Struggling With Those Extra Pounds.
Are there specific female hormones that CAUSE weight gain? What are the specific hormonal imbalances that CAUSE weight gain in women? I think what we should really be asking ourselves is, can one really say that hormones directly CAUSE weight gain alone?
I will come right out with a BOLD statement – no ONE hormone will start adding weight to your body alone. Think for a moment of other illnesses, health issues and/or medications. Have you ever read information from a trusted source, that states without a doubt, that an illness is CAUSED by smoking or by any other SINGLE factor alone? Instead, what you will always read is how a certain habit (ie smoking), medication, biological factor or genetic factor MAY or CAN lead to a health issue. This is because there are always dozens of other moving parts both within the body’s biological make-up and with our external environment. Despite advanced testing and research studies, there are too many dynamic factors to control. In some cases, these factors are still unknown to the researcher or doctor and/or patient.
How Do I Shed This Extra Weight If The Hormone & Weight Gain Relationship Is So Complex?
So how does this help me you might ask? If you read my other article called «Do you know if you have hormonal imbalance», you are already aware that hormones effect a multitude of your body’s organ and cell functions which therefore confirm the important role of hormones for your health but also how an imbalance will naturally effect your appetite and metabolism. You would have also read that we need to help balance those hormones with proper nutrition, sleep and exercise. Therefore, once you have noted that you are experiencing some signs and symptoms of hormone imbalance including weight gain, you now need to understand which specific hormone issues can be responsible, so you can implement the necessary changes to improve your health and weight issues.
Important Weight-Related Hormones To Understand
The thyroid gland, a gland of the endocrine system, produces 3 different hormones which are related to metabolism, heart rate, sleep and other functions. Other than weight gain, it is very important to regulate the thyroid if you have hyperthyroidism (over production of hormones) or hypothyroidism (underproduction of hormones). This is a health issue that you can be born with, can be genetically influenced or can be triggered by specific events such as pregnancy. If you feel easily out of breath or experience the feeling that your heart is racing, you are losing or gaining weight, and/or you are having issues sleeping you should go see your doctor. Thyroid deficiency can be tested with a simple blood test.
The pancreas, a gland of the endocrine system, secretes insulin which carries glucose through the blood stream to either use it as energy or to store it as energy for later use. This sounds great right? Not if you are eating too much processed foods, food high in
sugar (even fruits!) and carbohydrates with a high glucose index. The good news is that insulin is one of the hormones that you can largely control through your diet by understanding which food increase glucose level or cause insulin « spikes » in the blood stream. Bad news? Most people only realize when it is too late and they have become insulin resistant. This means that insulin can no longer perform its role and this will lead to weight gain and Type II diabetes.
The ovaries, glands of the endocrine system, produce estrogen. High levels of estrogen may play a role in weight gain but high estrogen levels may lead to much more serious health issues like blot clots, breast cancer, thyroid dysfunction and other issues. Low levels of estrogen are typically seen during menopause and even though most women at the age of menopause typically gain weight, more and more research suggests that it is more because of lifestyle than low estrogen that causes menapausal weight gain. Other things like polycystic ovarian syndrome, lactation, ovary removal, anorexia and vigorous exercise can also bring estrogen levels to an abnormal low level.
LEPTIN VS GHRELIN
These two have opposite roles. Leptin signals the body to stop eating because it is satiated, while ghrelin tells the body to eat because it is hungry. Let me explain this further.
Leptin, the food suppressor, is produced by fat cells. If you regularly eat high processed foods or foods high in sugar, you will store fat (gain weight). In turn, since leptin is produced from fat cells you develop a hormonal imbalance of too much leptin in your body. This will cause you to become DESENSITIZED to the leptin signal causing your body to ignore it. This will cause more eating and more weight gain.
Ghrelin, the hunger hormone, is primarily produced by the stomach, a gland of the endocrine system. As its name suggests, it will signal hunger to the brain. Obese people have a higher level of ghrelin because they have developed a desensitization to leptin, and people who follow very strict diets also tend to have an increase is ghrelin as well.
The STRESS hormone. This is a big one and in my opinion, the most complicated. Cortisol is a steroid hormone secreted by the adrenal glands when the body is physically stressed and/or emotionally stressed making stress hormone imbalance very hard to control.
Physical stress can be external injury to the body or internal injury such as other hormone imbalances that cause inflammation to the endocrine system. Two hormones that cause inflammation induced weight gain are melatonin levels and testosterone imbalances.
Emotional stress includes strong feeling of anger, frustration and sadness and more which for most people, are avoidable emotions in life.
Physical Appearance Does Not Explain The Whole Story
I want to emphasize that today’s social culture largely influenced by social media, equate being skinny and/or having lean muscle mass as healthy. I want women to remove this socially developed idea from their mind! I feel confident to say that these women who are in « perfect » physical condition from what we can see on the OUTSIDE, would most likely display hormone imbalances such as low estrogen, high levels of cortisol and high levels of ghrelin. This is because they are restricting calories and exercising excessively which put a huge stress on the body’s function which will naturally lead to chronic inflammation of your body’s endocrine system. In addition, eliminating certain foods from their diet to help with calorie restrictions will eventually lead to deficient levels of vitamins and nutrients in the body.
With this in mind, I now as you the same question as I did at the beginning of this article. Do hormonal imbalances ALONE cause weight gain? The answer is NO. Because if so, extreme fitness models would be gaining weight but they manage and manipulate their weight by taking their nutrition and exercise to an extreme level. Should you do this then? Absolutely not! This will continue to cause increased inflammation in your system and the cycle will continue and other much more serious health issues will be bound to surface.
BALANCE & MODERATION ARE KEY. This is the theme you will continue to see throughout my website because in essence, our body wants to be stress-free and to some degree, our actions effect our hormone levels which becomes a domino effect. If you strictly diet, or eat too much high sugar, or have long-term stress etc, not just one hormone will be affected but others will as well. If we do not put a stop to our bad habits these imbalances will worsen and the body will be in a CHRONIC state of inflammation. As mentioned, some hormonal imbalances are caused by other underlying health issues and those we must deal with first, because then all your efforts will be fruitless.
As we start to share our personal stories with each other, it will become more and more clear, that we feel and look the healthiest when we are in a state of equilibrium and have found that sweet spot that allows us to LIVE FREELY all while understanding our limits. Just because you are capable of handling a large amount of stress, or you can be extremely disciplined with your food intake and/or activity levels, this does not mean this is GOOD for you. What we WANT or what we think we WANT or NEED, may not align with that the body KNOWS it needs.
Ladies let me know if you felt that this article was helpful! Do not be shy to comment and request certain topics. Please feel to share your story because real life experiences do not lie!