Your Hormones and Weight Loss



donuts and a cup of coffee

Fat, rolls, extra padding, or pretty much any negative word that’s synonymous with extra weight comes with numerous stereotypes that usually make us cringe. In fact, usually after any of these horrid words are mentioned, all sorts of things start to make an appearance, like fad diets, superfoods, cleanses, supplements, new workouts, and other programs that try to promise that ‘this time will be different.’

With these you think you’ll never have to worry again, but after it feels like you’re trying so hard, and ‘did everything right’, you realize you aren’t getting results. You rationalize it and say, ‘it’s not that bad/ it could be worse.’ However, the answer to your weight loss woes still confuses you,  but it shouldn’t be that hard.

You dig deeper, see your healthcare practitioner, and your bloodwork comes back normal! Well there’s good news. Our fat cells are literally telling us how we can help them function optimally, and there are some top strategies to finally step off that proverbial weight loss rollercoaster.  

First Off, It’s Not A Bad Thing. So What Is Fat? 

Fat keeps us alive by helping store nutrients and cushion our organs, and the cell itself has receptors for hormones like vitamin D, estrogen, testosterone, thyroid, cortisol (e.g. our stress response), insulin (e.g. blood sugar), and hormones that tell us when to stop eating. Many of these help control energy metabolisms, food cravings, anxiety, sleep, stress, heart disease risk, and of course metabolism. There are many misconceptions and things people don’t know about fat. Here are 3 in particular: 

1. Not all fat is equal, there are types called  brown and beige adipocytes (fat cells). We can actually increase them and further increases our metabolism. Typically ‘losing fat’ refers to white adipose tissue only, which is where energy is stored. 

2. Fat gives off a number of signals too, as it’s very much involved in any inflammatory process, a general term for when our body is fed up overall. It also helps regulate blood pressure. Our endocrine system, the main system that helps control metabolism, has at least 7 different organs each with several hormones, many of which are lipid (fat) based. 

3. Different signals- not counting our fat cells. By the time our body has gone through so much and those pounds won’t budge, those signals are probably exhausted from working and we need to step up our game. 

3 Culprits of Stubborn Fat Loss:  

  1. Estrogen. The main culprit when weight won’t budge or instead seems to still be piling on is due to the excess of a common hormone, estrogen (i.e. estrogen dominance). It’s predominantly in women, yet increasingly found in men, and a common result of low testosterone as testosterone can metabolize into estrogen by yes, also the fat cell. When estrogen is in balance, it can help us lose weight, yet when it’s out of balance, it can cause weight gain and potentially food cravings (chances are it’s not for a bowl of kale). It can also slow down our thyroid function, aka metabolism, making it even harder to work at our diet or hit the gym. Extra estrogen is commonly found in our environment, so consider cleaning out your beauty and home products for products whose ingredients that don’t look like they popped out of a chemistry lab.
  2. Insulin resistance. Is also incredibly common in instances of weight gain, particularly around our sides. Along with insulin resistance there is usually elevated glucose and other blood sugar markers, and reduced stiety, even with adequate food intake. What could be happening is that if your cells have been overburdened throughout time with high stress/ poor sleep/ poor diet, they decide to just not let insulin in. The Problem? It carries glucose, aka your energy. This increases our appetite, and once again, you’re probably not reaching for a bowl of kale ward off that hunger. Though kale with some apple cider vinegar is incredibly nutrient-dense and can help your cells become more accepting of insulin. Just a thought. 
  3. Too much stress. This is subjective, as some people know when they’re stressed and either get very anxious, take shallow breaths, and ruminate, and others have no idea what I’m talking about. We can get desensitized to the stress reaction. We need stress to survive, but the problem is too much, and it’s not always ‘freaking out.’ It’s ‘too much cardio’, going to the gym when your body just wants to rest, living in an urban city, going to bed late, not having enough sleep, not a great diet, pushing various thoughts emotions aside, being in stressful environments- you get the picture. Furthermore, our abdomen’s cortisol receptors are 4x more receptive than anywhere on our body. So if you’d like your pants to perhaps button again without holding your breath (I’ve been there too), consider a daily alarm on your phone at 3pm that tells you to take 5 long, deep breaths. P.S. Cortisol increases insulin, high estrogen increases cortisol, and soon it becomes a vicious cycle. 

Not worry, you got this. Even these few tips can make massive improvements over time. Just like how our symptoms didn’t just appear overnight, these will take time too. Start with one that resonates, or put your own spin on it. Perhaps you like broccoli instead of kale- broccoli is also a great vegetable to help balance estrogen levels. There’s a big picture here, and even these three factors may not resonate equally with everyone, and knowing that we are super unique is also one step closer in knowing we need our own plan. Consider seeing a Naturopathic Doctor, or integrative medicine professional who can truly explore these areas, as well as what YOU as the person truly need to sustainably succeed. 

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