Throughout my years as a personal trainer & health coach, I have interacted with people of all shapes and sizes. One thing that remains a consistent problem for all is hormones. Either you have too much of one hormone or not enough of another and your body is basically screwed because of it. It can be frustrating. Today I want to talk about the hormones that impact weight loss the most.
But first, I want to make a general statement.
A change of any kind to any hormone can cause you to gain or lose weight.
I work with many women whom have gained weight due to a drop in estrogen levels during menopause. These same women then gain more weight when they begin taking a hormonal supplement. The body doesn’t like change. Whether your estrogen levels go up or go down, your weight will be affected.
A majority of the time the body responds to a change in hormone levels by placing extra body fat in the worst areas.
It is impossible to avoid the natural hormone changes in your body and the way your weight reacts to them. Taking hormonal supplements to balance things out is a strategy that works for many people. However, going on and off hormone supplements (like testosterone and estrogen) can really take a toll on your weight. So be cautious!
Now let’s talk about the three main hormones that affect weight management: Cortisol, Leptin, and Ghrelin.
Cortisol is the body’s stress hormone. This hormone controls the flight or fight response in the body. When stress is high, so is Cortisol. Have you ever wondered why you gain weight when you feel stressed and over-worked? Cortisol.
Too much Cortisol can lead to carbohydrate cravings, high blood sugar, and stored fat around the belly. Although some individuals have naturally high Cortisol levels (these people tend to suffer from forms of anxiety and depression), many can reduce these levels with stress management exercises like working out and meditating.
When Leptin levels are high, you will feel full. This is why Leptin is considered the “fullness hormone.” As you start to gain weight, your body can become resistant to Leptin. This means your body can’t tell if it’s hungry or not, which can lead to overeating.
Leptin is made in your sleep, so good sleeping habits are key to keeping this hormone under control.
Ghrelin, also known as the “hunger hormone,” is produced in the gut and lets the brain know when the stomach is full or empty. As Ghrelin levels increase, so does your hunger. Extreme diets and weight gain can both cause Ghrelin levels to rise. If you get ravenous after dinner it could be because your Ghrelin levels are too high.
Focus on eating a high-protein diet with plenty of fiber to help keep you feeling fuller for longer.