Even with a well balanced diet and regular exercise, some women still find it hard to lose weight. One factor that many people don’t always take into consideration when it comes to weight loss is hormonal imbalances. Our body is like a big clock with a number of parts working together. Hormones are just one of the “cogs” involved in helping everything to run smoothly. Sometimes having a healthy diet and exercise regime might not be enough to fix these hormonal issues.
I want to talk about some of the most common hormonal issues that can affect weight loss in this blog today. If you think that some of these could be relevant to you, the best thing to do is consult your doctor and see if you are indeed affected by these.
There is a lot of research that suggests that inflammation within the body is one of the main causes for a number of diseases that we see in this day and age. Some examples include arthritis, eczema, digestive disorders and more.
So what exactly is inflammation?
Think about is this way - if you go for a big walk or run and roll your ankle, within a few minutes your ankle may feel a little tender, hot, and maybe even be a little swollen. All of these things are caused by the activation of your immune system, which tells particular cells to help fix the problem. When we are talking about inflammation within the body, this isn’t always as obvious as a swollen ankle may be, which is why it can be hard to realise that it is happening at all.
Certain aspects of our lifestyle, such as the foods we eat and other choices we make (such as drinking alcohol and smoking) can increase the amount of inflammation within our body. Did you know that when our body is in an inflammatory state, it may actually make it harder for you to lose weight? One reason is that inflammatory factors can influence other hormones that help to regulate food intake. Some examples include insulin, which helps control blood sugar levels, and leptin, which helps us to recognise when we are full.
It is really important to understand that there are many causes of inflammation and that this can stretch beyond what you put in your body. To help reduce this, it is important that you consider all aspects of your lifestyle including the foods that you eat, the drinks that you drink, other lifestyle choices, as well as the environment that you live in.
While many people know this as the “stress hormone”, did you know that cortisol is actually an important hormone that is involved in a number of processes within the body? Some of these include regulating our blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and our metabolism day in and day out.
When we go through periods of stress, the amount of cortisol that is produced by the body can increase to help us cope with the additional pressure, before returning to normal once the stressful situation has passed. However, if you are someone who is constantly stressed, this can result in elevated cortisol for long periods of time, which is when the trouble can start.
There is a lot of research that shows that increased cortisol over long periods of time may cause weight gain, and more specifically, it can cause more fat to be stored around your middle. I’m not talking about the fat that determines how defined your abs are (called subcutaneous fat), but the fat found deep inside your abdomen and surrounds all of your major organs (called visceral fat). There is a lot of evidence suggesting that obesity and high levels of visceral fat may cause a lot of health problems later in life.
Serotonin is a hormone that plays an important role in controlling our appetite. Like cortisol, it is significantly affected by stress.
Without going into too much detail, chronic (or long-term) stress can cause a massive decrease in serotonin levels, which can cause us to crave carbohydrates and sugary foods. This is because these foods can help encourage the body to increase serotonin production. While your body needs carbohydrates to function and sugary foods can be eaten in moderation, eating too much on a regular basis can lead to unwanted weight gain.
A small amount of stress from time to time is perfectly normal. When it comes to both cortisol and serotonin, it is really important to understand what it is about your life that is causing you to feel stressed and then make an active decision to reduce this as much as possible. It can be as simple as writing a checklist of things that you need to do each day and allocating some time to achieve each of them. Also try to take some time out for yourself and do things you enjoy.
Thyroid hormones can play an important role in maintaining a healthy weight because they help to regulate our metabolism. Without getting too technical, the word “metabolism” essentially describes all of the chemical reactions that take place within our body that help keep us alive and functioning.
If your body is not able to produce enough thyroid hormones (called hypothyroidism), it can cause your metabolism to slow right down, which can make it more difficult to lose weight. On the other hand, if your body produces too much thyroid hormones (called hyperthyroidism), then it can essentially send your metabolism into overdrive, which can make it very difficult to gain weight.
Healthy levels of thyroid hormones (not too much or too little) are really important when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight. While some thyroid abnormalities can sometimes be caused by diet, it is also important to understand that these issues can also be genetic. It you think that you have either of these conditions, it is super important that you speak to your doctor to determine if this is what could be making it difficult for you to lose or gain weight. what the best treatment is, as this can vary from person to person.
As you can see, hormones play a huge role in our body’s ability to function each and every day. Whilst these are not ALL of the hormonal issues that can affect weight loss, these are some of the more common ones. I believe it is so important to be aware of all of the factors that can affect weight loss. I hear so many girls who feel dejected because they are struggling to see results despite doing their best to live a healthy lifestyle. While weight loss might be your goal, it is so important that you focus on correcting any hormonal imbalances first. At the end of the day, it is more important that all of your body’s systems are in check and working at their best.
Love, Kayla xx