Are Hormones Making You Fat?

If you speak to a financial advisor, they will teach you that if you spend more money than you bring in, you will inevitably go into debt. If you want to save money, you either spend less or make more.

Talk to a personal trainer and they will tell you if you want to lose weight, you have to burn more calories than you bring in or, in other words, reduce your daily caloric intake.

That all sounds simple enough, but this formula for weight loss drastically overlooks many of the other factors involved in establishing the calories burnt at rest, otherwise known as your basal metabolic rate.

How are you feeling now? Did you get enough sleep last night? When was your last meal? Did you exercise today? How many cups of coffee did you have today? Have you enjoyed sex recently? What are you thinking right now? Your answers to these questions and many more all have an impact on your hormones. Your daily life and its fluctuations can greatly impact the calories spent throughout a single day.

Your nervous system is in constant communication with the hormones within your body to help maintain a perfect state of balance. Since hormones control appetite and basal metabolic rate, they inevitably have an essential role in weight loss.

There are several hormonal imbalances within the body that can cause weight disturbances. However, the most commonly over looked fat-packing hormones are insulin, cortisol and estrogen.

Excess Insulin
When you eat any carbohydrate, it breaks down to sugar molecules. When sugar enters the blood stream, the body’s response is to produce enough insulin to match the amount of sugar that is present. Sugar present in the blood can either be stored as fuel for the brain and muscle for future use, but the remainder of the sugar gets stored as fat. Insulin levels can increase with poor diet, chronic stress, lack of exercise or over-exercising, poor liver function and aging.

Too much insulin will not only cause you to gain weight, but it also blocks optimal fat burning potential. High insulin levels can also increase your appetite. They block the signal of appetite suppressing hormones to the brain and also signal a need for more dopamine, a hormone that induces an increased desire to eat.

Excess Cortisol
Chronic mental, emotional or physical stressors will keep your cortisol levels high. Elevated levels of cortisol can reduce your metabolism and affect thyroid function. It can also increase abdominal fat, deplete serotonin, cause blood sugar imbalances that leave you craving carbohydrates, eat away your muscle mass and disturb your sleep. Further more, cortisol reduces growth hormones that help you heal, repair and gain muscle and increase insulin. All these factors linked to a single hormone can seriously impact your metabolism, leaving you packing on extra unwanted pounds.

High Estrogen
Excess estrogen can cause weight gain, water retention and bloating. High estrogen can be caused by high stress, poor liver function, hormones added to both food and cosmetics, a high-fat diet or excess alcohol consumption, insufficient sleep, lack of exercise and certain nutritional deficiencies.

Low Estrogen
Too little estrogen slows the metabolism, increases insulin, leaves you craving more carbohydrates and inevitably with more belly fat. Low estrogen is obviously induced in menopause, but can also be impacted by high stress, smoking and low fat diets.

There are several other hormones and many additional life-style factors, which also play a role in weight loss, but these hormones often get overlooked in your conventional blood-screening test. Often medical doctors will even refuse to test them.

If you suspect that one of these hormones may be the cause for your trouble with weight loss, consider completing one of the following specific lab tests: fasting insulin and glucose, cortisol (bloodwork or saliva test done at peak levels at 8am) and estradiol (three days after the first day of your period and seven days before your expected period). If your doctor will not agree to additional bloodwork, we can order them privately during your next naturopathic consultation.

For more information, please contact our Oakville clinic, located in the heart of Bronte, for details.