We live in a world where gyms guarantee “2-week” weight loss , brands promote fat-burning pills and potions, and food products promise not to make you fat. Therefore, it is safe to say that most of us are looking to lose weight and get in shape. But, if you’ve been on a strict diet and haven’t seen the numbers on your scale drop, it can be frustrating.
The culprit here could just be your hormones . And, while that seems like something completely out of your control, there are ways to manage it enough to give your weight loss routine that extra boost. Here are some hormones that shape your weight loss goals, and how you can control them.
1. Hunger Hormone
Leptin is produced by fat cells and is secreted into our bloodstream. Thus, it controls the way the body manages its fat stores. Leptin also reduces appetite by acting on specific centers in the brain to reduce the urge to eat.
Obese people tend to have higher leptin levels compared to those of normal weight. And, this could lead one to believe that they will feel full quickly. Unfortunately, messages from leptin do not seem to reach the brains of obese people, making them less sensitive to the effects of leptin. Here’s how you can control leptin
- Reduce fructose intake: Fructose is a type of sugar commonly found in fruits. It is also found in soft drinks, candy, flavored yogurt, frozen junk food, and salad dressings. Excessive consumption of this type of sugar is related to leptin resistance. This means that your brain will feel hungry even when your body is full. So if you tend to rely on a lot of junk food and fruit, reducing your intake could help a lot.
- Get enough sleep: Lack of sleep is thought to cause obesity by increasing leptin levels and causing leptin resistance. So make sure you get a good night’s sleep.
2. Stress hormone
The steroid hormone, cortisol , is produced in the adrenal glands and released into the bloodstream. It is responsible for controlling blood sugar levels, stress, metabolism, inflammatory responses, and memory formulation.
When too much cortisol is released in the body, it is assumed that the body is starving and converts sugar to fat to replenish the body’s energy stores. It also increases your appetite, so you’ll want to eat more for energy. And, this inevitably leads to weight gain. Control cortisol levels by:
- Lead a stress-free life: Stress leads to excessive production of cortisol. Therefore, managing it is the key to losing weight. You could start with relaxation techniques like yoga and physical activities like tai chi. You could also invest more time in your relationships.
- Reduce caffeine: Caffeine raises cortisol levels in the body in both men and women. And while some studies claim that regular, moderate consumption might decrease this response in the body, the general consensus is that it has a significant effect on cortisol. You can start by reducing your intake to one cup a day.
- Exercise regularly: Aerobic exercise has a positive effect on your body’s metabolism and stress levels. It also stimulates endorphins , the body’s “feel good” hormones. So make sure you keep up with your exercise routine.
3. Sex hormones
Estrogen and androgen play a vital role in the distribution of body fat. Estrogen, the main female sex hormone, is responsible for controlling the sexual and reproductive development of women. Low estrogen levels are believed to lead to weight gain. It causes fat storage in the lower half of the body during pregnancy and in the abdomen after menopause.
Although there isn’t enough evidence about ways to manage estrogen, estrogen supplementation after menopause is thought to prevent fat storage. However, it is important to consult a professional before trying supplements.
Testosterone , the main sex hormone in men, also plays a role in weight control. Low testosterone levels are associated with increased fat mass and decreased lean muscle mass. Research indicates that the best way to manage testosterone levels is through testosterone replacement therapy. Other ways to do this include.
- Strength Training: This form of exercise is believed to increase testosterone which, in turn, leads to muscle gain.
- Optimize your diet: Research indicates that a diet rich in protein, carbohydrates, and fat increases testosterone levels. However, be sure to avoid excessive dieting or overeating that could upset your testosterone levels.
Additionally, certain herbs such as ashwagandha are believed to increase testosterone levels, but there is not enough evidence to support this claim.
When it comes to regulating hormones for weight loss, it’s important to remember that there’s not much you can do. Although you can control stress and hunger to a great extent, sex hormones may not be in your control. Lastly, be sure to talk to your doctor about all the things you can do about your hormones and refrain from prescribing any supplements.