There are many factors that lead to weight gain. However, most people typically attribute weight gain to an unhealthy diet and a sedentary lifestyle. Unfortunately, there are many more culprits of your unwanted gains than just having an inactive lifestyle and poor diet.
Shedding stubborn fat or even losing weight can become an uphill task when there is an imbalance of hormones in the body. The role of hormones in the body and its effects on you are often overlooked and underestimated, but these chemical messengers are vital for regulating and overseeing critical functions in the body. They are responsible for managing our metabolic rates, glucose uptakes and inflammatory responses as well as determining how and how well our body perform throughout the day, and their balance is affected by genes, age and lifestyle, diet, environment etc. These elements have the propensity to contribute to hormonal imbalance if not properly managed. Additionally, a poor diet and unhealthy lifestyle can also lead to a sluggish metabolic rate, unhealthy appetites and impaired core functions like digestion, alertness and cell reproduction.
Women are especially more likely to experience the ill effects of hormonal imbalances as they go through pregnancy, post-pregnancy, menstrual cycles etc. which can make them more prone to obesity-related diseases.
So how do hormones impact our weight?
Hormones That Are Related To Weight Gain
Located at the base of the neck, the thyroid gland produces three crucial hormones in the body including T3, T4 and calcitonin. These hormones are responsible for regulating your heart rate, sleep cycle, metabolic rate and even affects brain development. When the thyroid gland is not producing enough thyroid hormones, it can lead to hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is linked to causing depression, fatigue, weight gain, a slow heart rate, high blood cholesterol and water retention. Malnutrition, gluten intolerance and environmental toxins are some of the factors that can trigger hypothyroidism. There are a number of ways to address a thyroid imbalance. Consuming fish oil and vitamin D supplements can aid in restoring your thyroid level. You can also increase your zinc intake by including more oysters and pumpkin seeds into your diet.
Secreted by the pancreas, insulin is a hormone that is crucial for transporting glucose into cells, which is then utilised as an energy source or stored as fat in the body when not used. Insulin manages glucose levels in the blood, which is important for keeping your blood sugar in check. Our sugar level typically spikes after we have eaten food, and this increase triggers the body to release more insulin. It is crucial that you maintain a healthy diet and avoid over-consuming certain types of foods and beverages that include processed foods, alcohol, sugary foods and sweet drinks; this can lead to you developing insulin resistance over time, reducing your insulin response and cause glucose to linger in the bloodstream and raise blood sugar levels. The major drawbacks of insulin resistance are not just weight gain but also the development of Type 2 diabetes. The best way to prevent this would be to decrease your intake of unhealthy foods, consume more vegetables, fruits, fatty fish, flaxseeds, nuts and olive oil. Aim to drink 3-4 litres of water everyday and work out at least four hours a week to lower the risk of insulin resistance and improve your overall health.
When functioning normally, leptin is responsible for telling your brain that you are full and that you should stop eating. However, if your diet is marked with an overconsumption of foods that are high in sugar such as processed foods, chocolates, candies and even fruits (yes, fruits contain fructose), the sugars present in them that enters your body will be transformed into fat, which will then be deposited onto the belly area, organs and other parts of the body. Since these fat cells secrete leptin, too much leptin will desensitise the body’s reaction to it over time. This basically means that the brain will no longer receive the signal effectively to stop eating. There are a number of ways to lower leptin levels in the body. Some of these include getting enough sleep, it is recommended that the average person gets at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Incorporating more dark green leafy vegetables and healthy snacks into your diet will go a long way to regulate leptin levels in the body.
An imbalance of estrogen in the body can lead to weight gain. High estrogen levels in the body can either be caused by an overproduction of this hormone or it can stem from overactive ovarian cells or even because you are consuming a diet rich in oestrogens like tofu, fruits and other soy products. Additionally, more and more animals these days are fed with antibiotics, hormones and steroids that can copy the same characteristics of estrogen in your body. Elevated levels of estrogen tend to stress cells that are responsible for producing insulin. This causes the body to be insulin resistant, leading to a rise in glucose levels, which ultimately leads to weight gain. Even experiencing lower levels of estrogen comes with its drawbacks. When the estrogen levels plunge, the body starts transforming all available sources of energy to fat to replenish the glucose levels. The leads to weight gain, especially in the lower parts of the body.