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Hormones and Weight: Why You're Not Losing Weight and What You Can Do About It

Holtorf Medical Group

Maintaining a healthy weight is a major component of wellness. Unfortunately, poor weight management is a common issue for many in the United States. According to the Center for Disease Control, the prevalence of obesity in the United States between the years 2015 and 2016 was near 40%. Although there are many factors regarding an individual’s weight, a significant and often overlooked aspect is hormone balance. 

Hormones relay information throughout the body and influence numerous functions including weight regulation. It has been found that those suffering from hormonal malfunctions or imbalances are more likely to have issues with weight. Without identifying and resolving an existing imbalance, such weight problems are likely to remain. Because of this, understanding the influence of hormones on weight and employing methods to restore hormone balance may be the key to achieving dropping unhealthy pounds.

Hormonal Influencers on Weight Regulation

Many different hormones play a role in weight gain, retention, and regulation. An imbalance or malfunction of any of the following hormones can promote weight gain and significantly impede weight loss. 

Thyroid Hormones

Thyroid hormones regulate nearly every action in the body including metabolism, fat storage, and appetite. Inhibited thyroid function, known as hypothyroidism, or an imbalance of thyroid hormones can slow metabolic processes resulting in weight gain and retention. Without resolving an existing thyroid issue, it can be incredibly difficult to lose weight.

DHEA

As a precursor to many important hormones such as testosterone and estrogen, DHEA influences various aspects of wellness ranging from metabolic function, stress regulation, and immunity. DHEA also promotes anabolic action and protein building, which improves fat burning. Each of these areas are a factor in weight regulation. Therefore, deficiency of DHEA can contribute to weight gain and retention.

Sex Hormones (Testosterone and Estrogen)

Testosterone is converted from DHEA and used in male bodies to build lean muscle, burn calories, and improve mental clarity. A lack of testosterone can promote muscle loss, reduced energy levels, and lack of motivation. Each of these attributes contributes to weight gain.

Estrogen is also a descendant of DHEA and plays an important role in how the body reacts to and utilizes nutrients. Increased estrogen, or estrogen dominance, in both men and women, can promote fat storage resulting in weight gain and increased retention.

Growth Hormone

Growth hormone is produced in the pituitary and works with testosterone to support muscle construction and repair, cell rejuvenation, bone and muscle strength, and the breakdown of fats. A deficiency of growth hormone can contribute to lean muscle loss thereby contributing to greater retention of fat and unwanted body weight.

During early development, a lack of growth hormone can significantly impede both physical and neurological development, which may contribute to weight retention later in life.

Insulin

Insulin is produced in the pancreas and is responsible for blood sugar balance and the dispensation of glucose into cells. As insulin levels rise, it becomes increasingly difficult to shed excess body fat. Maintaining high insulin levels can result in insulin resistance, thereby reducing responsivity to the fat-burning signals triggered by this hormone. Insulin resistance causes cellular starvation triggering an increased hunger response and greater storage of fat.

Cortisol

Cortisol is the body’s primary stress hormone and regulates how the body reacts to real and perceived threats. At increased levels, this hormone can disrupt a variety of other hormones including insulin, thyroid hormones, and adrenal hormones. It is common for overworked or anxious individuals to gain weight, especially in the abdominal area, due to a sustained and heightened level of cortisol.

Ways to Restore Hormone Balance

Hormones have notable influence over one another. Because of this, it can be difficult trying to optimize an individual hormone without impacting the balance or function of another. However, there are some steps that can be taken to provide general benefits for hormone function and balance that support better weight regulation.

Diet

Most people who are serious about losing weight are likely already employing some sort of calorie-restricting diet. Although this strategy works as a general guideline, if the body is not given the nutrients it needs to properly produce the wide array of critical weight-regulating hormones required for weight loss a person may be disappointed with their results.

Adopting a hormone-supporting diet that contains foods such as avocados, Brazil nuts, broccoli sprouts, coconut oil, dark chocolate, eggs, quinoa, and other hormone-boosting foods can improve hormone balance and functionality leading to improved weight loss.

Some hormones require specific nutrients to work at their best. For example, the thyroid needs an adequate amount of selenium, zinc, iodine, and omega 3 fats to function at its best.

Another important aspect of dieting is avoiding certain foods that can destabilize hormone production and function. For example, it is best to limit intake of sugars, refined carbohydrates, and alcohol. These substances can spike levels of hormones such as estrogen and insulin while also disrupting hormonal communication, which promotes weight gain and retention.

BHRT

Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy or BHRT may be one of the most effective ways of reestablishing hormonal balance. This treatment supports hormonal equilibrium by supplying hormones that the body is lacking.

Bioidentical hormones differ from typical hormone treatments that use synthetic substances mimicking those produced in the body. Bioidentical hormones are structurally identical to those found in the human body meaning they are more easily utilized and do not increase the risk of side effects such as blood clots, cancers, strokes, and neurological disorders or degenerative disease. Furthermore, BHRT can be catered to individual patients because it is a compounded medication. This allows for specific formulation and dosage depending on the needs of the patient and degree of imbalance.

Resolving the Weight Loss Roadblock

Maintaining a healthy weight is an important part of wellness. Unfortunately, for many individuals, hormonal imbalances are inhibiting their efforts of reaching a more optimal weight. There are many different hormones that influence metabolism, energy consumption, fat storage, muscle building, and calorie burning that all play a role in your ability to lose or maintain a healthy weight. Recognizing the importance of these hormones and implementing a hormone-supporting diet or pursuing BHRT can help restore hormone balance and help make those weight loss goals possible. 

At Holtorf Medical Group, our physicians are trained to provide you with cutting-edge testing and innovative treatments to find the answers you deserve and a treatment plan that is personalized to your specific condition. If you’re experiencing unexplained weight gain or weight retention and believe your hormones may be to blame, give us a call at 877-508-1177 to see how we can help you!


Resources

  1. Mullur R, Liu YY, Brent GA. "Thyroid hormone regulation of metabolism." Physiol Rev. 2014;94(2):355–382.
  2. Epel E et al. "Stress may add bite to appetite in women: a laboratory study of stress-induced cortisol and eating behavior." Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2001 Jan;26(1):37-49.
  3. Moyer AE et al. "Stress-induced cortisol response and fat distribution in women." Obes Res. 1994 May;2(3):255-62.
  4. Erdmann J et al. "Development of hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance during the early stage of weight gain." Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Mar;294(3):E568-75.
  5. Elliott SS et al. "Fructose, weight gain, and the insulin resistance syndrome." Am J Clin Nutr. 2002 Nov;76(5):911-22.

Holtorf Medical GroupThe Holtorf Medical Group specializes in optimizing quality of life and being medical detectives to uncover the underlying cause of symptoms, rather than just prescribing medications to cover-up the symptoms. We are experts in natural, prescription bioidentical hormone replacement and optimization, complex endocrine dysfunction, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and Lyme disease. We’ve dedicated our practice to providing you the best in evidenced-based, integrative medicine that’s not only safe and effective, but provides measurable results.


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