Hormones play an essential role in our body as chemical messengers, affecting many different processes. However, hormones might cause weight gain or difficulties losing weight when not appropriately regulated. While hormone-related weight gain is a complex issue, what if we could shed it in a few easy ways? Please read this article to learn what causes hormonal weight gain and how to fix it.
Get in Shape – Learn What Causes Hormonal Weight Gain & Ways to Lose It
We repeatedly hear about why we are gaining weight because we are eating too much and not exercising enough. Although this is true, our hormones are another reason behind our unwanted weight gain. First, let’s define hormonal weight gain before learning how hormones cause it.
Understanding Hormonal Weight Gain
Hormonal weight gain is the increase in body weight, mainly body fat, in some parts of the body. Unlike typical weight gain, which occurs when the amount of energy gained by the body exceeds the amount of energy burned during metabolism and physical activity, hormonal weight gain occurs when there are imbalances of hormones or certain hormonal disorders.
What Does Hormonal Weight Gain Look Like?
Since hormonal weight gain is different from weight gain due to excess caloric intake, its symptoms are also distinctive. While body weight and fat are distributed equally in weight gain due to excess caloric intake, people with hormonal weight gain usually notice increased weight around specific body parts, such as the waist, arms, thighs, chest, and lower body.
What Causes Hormonal Weight Gain?
Stress can be either beneficial or detrimental, depending on whether it helps you catch up with deadlines at work or negatively impacts your productivity. However, too much stress, or chronic stress, can only harm your health, particularly your body shape, by the presence of a hormone called cortisol.
Cortisol is a hormone that your body produces when it’s stressed. Although cortisol is essential as it sends you into fight-or-flight mode, preparing your body to react to a danger or a stressful situation, it can become harmful in excess amounts.
Cortisol boosts your energy levels by stimulating your fat and carbohydrate metabolism. While this process is necessary for stress management, cortisol also stimulates your appetite, leading to persistent cravings for sweet and fatty foods.
In addition, increased cortisol levels due to stress can also drive you to eat more than usual. You might constantly look for snacks throughout the day to temporarily relieve stress. As a result, you might end up noticing an increase in weight around the waist.
Hormonal imbalances occur when there is a change in the amount of hormone in the body. Due to the hormone’s essential function, even minor hormonal imbalances might lead to significant consequences. As one of the most important sex hormones, estrogen regulates vital metabolism features such as food intake, body weight, body fat distribution, and energy expenditure. Therefore, either low estrogen or excessive amounts of estrogen can cause hormonal weight gain.
Extra weight around the arms, thighs, and chest are all symptoms of hormonal weight gain due to estrogen. According to research, the absence of estrogens may be a crucial factor in obesity. On the other hand, estrogen dominance, which occurs when the body has too much estrogen, might also be another culprit of hormone-related weight gain.
Hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, is a condition in which the thyroid gland cannot produce some crucial hormones at a sufficient level. According to NCBI, although hypothyroidism might cause weight gain, it only induces extra weight in small amounts. This is backed by The American Thyroid Association (ATA), which claims hypothyroidism is rarely associated with substantial weight gain. Depending on the severity of hypothyroidism, the thyroid may be responsible for only 5 to 10 pounds of extra body weight.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal disorder characterized by irregular or extended menstrual periods and elevated levels of the male hormone androgen. Although the exact cause of PCOS is not fully known, this hormonal disorder might result in hormonal weight gain.
According to a review, obesity and PCOS are closely linked. Up to 88 percent of women with PCOS are overweight or obese. Furthermore, a study discovered a relationship between PCOS and body mass index (BMI). Women diagnosed with PCOS at age 46 had the highest BMI of all age groups.
Women with PCOS are also more likely to experience mental health issues. According to a study, those with PCOS had higher levels of anxiety, depression, and poor body image than women without the condition. These mental health issues may cause women to gain weight or prevent them from losing weight successfully.
How to Lose Hormonal Weight Gain
Since hormonal weight gain is due to changes in hormone levels, the best strategy to deal with it is by balancing hormones. If you suffer from constantly high-stress levels leading to too much cortisol, you can try simple stress-reduction techniques like meditation or listening to music. However, these strategies can only reduce stress in the short term; thus, the essential aspect of stress management is eliminating it from your work and life.
Hormone therapy can also be an option if you have estrogen-related weight gain. According to research, menopause hormone therapy at the lowest effective dose and shortest duration may be effective. In many cases, the advantages of menopausal hormone therapy outweigh the risks, particularly when it comes to alleviating symptoms caused by estrogen deficiency, such as hormonal weight gain. If you have estrogen dominance, you can also boost your physical activity because exercise has been proven to reduce estrogen levels in another study.
To treat hormonal weight gain caused by hypothyroidism or PCOS, the best thing you can do is learn everything you can about these disorders and their symptoms, then consult a doctor as soon as you have any concerns about your health.
In conclusion, hormonal weight gain might result from multiple causes. Besides having a good lifestyle with a healthy diet and high physical activity levels, understanding your hormones might help you on your weight-loss journey.
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