TeleWellnessMD Blog

5 Hormones and how they affect your weight

Posted by Molly Hunsinger on Jan 27, 2016 1:52:49 PM

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When you daydream about food or grab a snack you really don’t need, your hormones are most likely the culprit. Hormone imbalances can affect your weight.

In many cases the key to weight loss is understanding how hormone imbalances can affect your weight, not just calories.

People respond to weight management and exercise programs differently and often need a more comprehensive approach. As we know, body shapes are different and so are the internal hormone systems that drives these body shapes.

With unique hormonal variations it is easy to see that there can be more to weight loss than diet and exercise. Combining traditional diet and exercise with more unique weight management strategies such as hormone optimization, inflammation reduction and nutrient replenishing, can really make a difference for people who have struggled in the past.

HORMONES & DIET

Hormones are the messengers that tell the body to burn fat or store fat, remain full or feel hungry, have cravings or not, enjoy balanced energy or feel fatigued. Hormones even impact your mood and motivation to exercise.

When dieting and cutting calories the potential impact on hormones can be recognizable and pronounced. If you cut too many calories or reduce calories for more than 60 days the body slows its metabolic rate and begins to compensate. The body’s reaction often is what ends the diet at the 60-90 day mark and then weight gain is inevitable.

People respond differently to diets based on their individual nature. In cases where people have not succeeded with dieting, addressing the hormones first may be the best approach.

Hormone balancing can reduce hunger, control cravings, elevate energy, and boost metabolism. Reducing calories is still a must when attempting to lose weight, but a low-calorie diet in the context of balanced hormones can be the real solution in many cases.

There are several hormones that have direct ties to obesity, but these hormones that have the most direct action on hunger, satiety, and fat burning. These hormones are affected by many things including other hormones, but when imbalanced they can be a very powerful obstacle for weight loss.

  1. Adiponectin

Adiponectin is a protein that is involved in regulating glucose levels and burning fat. Low levels of Adiponectin are associated with higher levels of obesity. And elevated levels of Adiponectin are associated with improved insulin sensitivity and better metabolic output. It is now well established that the more of this protein you have circulating in your bloodstream, the more fat you burn.

Adiponectin levels are reduced when inflammation increases and with the development of insulin resistance. Inflammation is associated with the release of chemicals called cytokines, which have been found to directly reduce the levels of Adiponectin. The primary mechanisms by which Adiponectin enhance insulin sensitivity appears to be through increased fatty acid oxidation and inhibition of hepatic glucose production.

  1. Ghrelin

Ghrelin, known as the “hunger hormone”, has direct effects on hunger and therefore the ability for people to lose weight and maintain weight. As Ghrelin levels rise so does hunger and cravings for mostly carbohydrates. When you start to think about food or catch yourself grabbing a food you know you really don’t need it is likely the result of Ghrelin.

Ghrelin does more than just increases food intake, it can also increase fat mass. Ghrelin impact on cravings is also implicated in other reward behaviors such as smoking and other drugs. Levels of Ghrelin can be inappropriately increased by smoking, poor diet, sedentary lifestyle and other inflammatory activities.

  1. Leptin

Leptin is the hormone that works opposite of Ghrelin. Not only do inflammatory markers increase levels of Ghrelin they can reduce Leptin activity. The receptors for the inflammatory cytokines Tumer Necrosis Factor Alpha and Interleukin-6 (TNF-α and IL-6) are almost identical to the receptors for the fat regulating hormone Leptin. When inflammation is high these cytokines become elevated and overload the Leptin receptors. These actions create a state of “Leptin Resistance” and elevated levels of Ghrelin, which place people in the unfortunate cycle of high cravings and high risk of weight gain, insulin resistance and further inflammation.

Results of Lowering Inflammation:

  • Adiponectin levels rise
  • Insulin resistance decreases
  • Ghrelin decreases
  • Cortisol decreases
  • Leptin resistance subsides
  • Weight loss is achieved
  1. Insulin

In the overweight population most experience some level of insulin resistance. Insulin resistance means that insulin becomes less effective at lowering your blood sugars. Muscle cells require insulin to absorb glucose, but when these cells fail to respond adequately to circulating insulin, blood sugars rise. The liver is supposed to reduce its output of glucose in the presence of insulin, but with insulin resistance the liver does not respond to the signals effectively worsening the problem. Insulin resistance causes cells to stop effectively absorbing glucose into muscles for energy and results in carbohydrates getting stored as fat.

  1. Cortisol

Stress has been documented to increase cravings for sweet, fatty and salty foods and has been tied to over eating and weight gain. This is because stress also leads to increased Cortisol production, which if not corrected leads to increased belly fat and is termed the fat-stress connection. Cortisol is released to prepare the body for stress so another preparation is to break down muscle for energy. Excess circulating Cortisol leads to sluggish metabolism, muscle breakdown, and fat accumulation often in particular areas of the body such as the abdomen and underarms.

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Topics: Ghrelin, Cortisol, Hormone Optimization, Weight Loss, Healthy Body Weight

Molly Hunsinger

Written by Molly Hunsinger

Molly Hunsinger is a communications professional and certified group exercise instructor and fitness trainer. Her medical, health and fitness industry background spans nearly three decades with experience working as an instructor trainer, staff trainer, facility manager, group exercise program manager, physician relations manager and marketing director. As a media professional, she has developed and launched award-winning allied marketing and advertising campaigns for luxury retailers, leading nonprofit organizations and foundations and written numerous articles and blogs for both digital and print publications. Molly holds a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Florida with a concentration in journalism and digital media studies.