Are your hormones contributing to weight gain?
We all know how the energy equation works when it comes to food and exercise i.e. the amount of energy (calories) we consume needs to equal the amount of energy we burn off to maintain weight. If we consume more energy than we burn off we gain weight, right? But it’s not quite as simple as that because many other factors within the body play a role in regulating the weight cycle, and in particular the hormones. Many clients will come to me and say “I’m eating all the right things, I’m exercising four times a week & I’m still not loosing weight”. If this sounds like you, it is well worth investigating whether your hormones are preventing you from loosing weight.
Hormones are chemical messengers sent from one area of the body and delivered to another to help regulate important functions. Many hormones have a relationship with weight gain. Here are some important ones to know about. This list isn’t extensive and there are other bodily functions that can be checked if weight loss isn’t happening but from my experience these hormones are the most frequently implicated.
Thyroid hormones are responsible for overall metabolism, which has an impact on how quickly you burn calories and digestion. If you’re thyroid is sluggish, your overall basal metabolic rate (BMR) will be sluggish too, which may not show on blood tests. One way to test your BMR is to take your temperature first thing in the morning before moving or getting out of bed. Place the thermometer next to the bed and take it as soon as you wake up each day for a month. If your temperature is consistently below 37 degrees (particularly 35-36.5) you may benefit from a gluten free, Iodine, Magnesium & B Vitamin rich diet designed for optimal thyroid function and health.
Insulin is a hormone released by the body when we consume carbohydrate. Its role is to take the carbohydrate (glucose) from the blood and store it as glycogen in the muscles or liver, to be used when energy supplies within the body are low. The body can only store a certain amount of glycogen so when these stores are full, glucose is stored as fat. Insulin resistance is a physiological condition where the body stops responding to the actions of the hormone insulin. Conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, syndrome X, hyperinsulinemia, pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes all have the same underlying problem of insulin resistance. Blood glucose issues don’t always show on blood tests but a nutritional consultation can help reveal any underlying issues. If you carry weight around your middle, which is difficult to shift, or regularly experience sugar cravings, you may have blood sugar issues and a diet high in healthy fats and low in starchy carbohydrates in combination with exercise could help shift those stubborn extra kilos.
Cortisol and adrenaline are both released by our adrenal glands when we are stressed. Adrenaline is the fight of flight hormone, which gets our heart pumping, our breathing up and our bodies ready for action. Cortisol also functions to provide the energy our body needs to take action by taking fat from body stores and moving it to working muscle. Back when we were cavemen and from a survival point of view this worked very well. Nowadays with the increasing sedentary lives we lead, cortisol can affect fat storage and weight gain in stressed people by taking glucose from the blood or fat from the body stores and delivering it to fat cell deep in the abdomen i.e. the type of stubborn belly fat that can be difficult to shift. If this picture resonates with you (i.e. you experience high levels of stress and carry weight around the middle), a diet low in sugar & carbohydrates in combination with relaxation techniques and exercise can work wonders.
Leptin is a hormone produced by our body’s fat cells. It acts on particular centres of the brain to control appetite by telling us when we are full and to stop eating. It is thought that in some people leptin messages don’t get through to the brain properly meaning the messages to stop eating don’t occur. Brain cells controlling appetite can become damaged over time from free radicals. Free radicals in the diet are particularly damaging if they come from trans fats, fried foods and unsaturated fats heated to high temperatures but they can also occur from environmental toxins as well. If you are someone who overeats because you don’t feel full after a meal, a nutritional consultation will help pinpoint dietary and lifestyle habits that are contributing to this issue. A whole food diet high in antioxidants and healthy fats can help repair this damage.
Naturopaths or nutritionists work like detectives to establish the root cause of any health issues within the body. This can help pinpoint exactly why you are not loosing weight. Switching to the right diet for you body type will not only help you shift weight easily but the weight will stay off and help clear up other areas of ill health within the body as well.
SUMMER SPECIAL: Want to get healthy in time for summer? I am offering 25% off initial consultations during the month of December. On top of this I will put together an individualised 7 day eating plan & shopping list that is right for your body type (valued at $80). Health Fund rebates are also available. To take advantage of this offer email firstname.lastname@example.org. There are limited spaces available so book early. Skype consultations are available worldwide.