You’ve probably heard a bit about hormones by now. They’re the culprits behind those jaw breakouts, and usually the reason why you’re a little more emotional before that time of the month 😔
Hormones are substances that play a really important role in our body, even though we might have never been properly taught about them before! They are involved in many aspects of our health, including sexual function, growth and development, mood, appetite, and metabolism.
A system of glands, known as the endocrine system, secretes hormones into the bloodstream.
When your hormones are in balance, your health is in balance. However, if there is hormonal dysregulation — this is when your body releases too little or too much of a hormone — your health, and body weight can be significantly impacted.
Starting to make a bit more sense right? Well, we’re going to break it down even further so you’ll be able to understand the reason why you might not be shedding that extra weight, even when you’ve been in a calorie deficit for a while.
Let’s get into it 🕵️
Hormones that may affect your weight
Insulin: produced by the pancreas, is the main storage hormone in the body. It promotes the transfer of glucose from food into your cells for either energy, in the form of glucose (a simple sugar), or storage in the muscle, liver, and fat cells for later use.
Insulin resistance is a fairly common condition that causes your cells to stop responding to insulin, resulting in high blood sugar. Insulin resistance is associated with obesity, which can then play a role in other conditions, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
To prevent these conditions, it’s important to improve insulin sensitivity naturally. You can do this by getting more sleep, exercising, lowering your intake of added sugars, reducing stress, and losing weight, among many other ways that make up a healthy lifestyle.
Cortisol: also known as the stress hormone as it’s released during times of stress 😰Cortisol, along with the hormone adrenaline, increases your heart rate and energy levels.
While it’s important for your body to release cortisol in dangerous situations, chronic high levels of it may lead to many health issues. Low energy levels, high blood pressure, sleep disturbances, and therefore weight gain, can be caused by having too much cortisol in your body.
Estrogen: the sex hormone responsible for regulating the female reproductive system.
Estrogen levels change during different life stages, beginning with puberty, and then during your menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause. People with obesity have been known to have high levels of estrogen, which is also associated with an increased risk of chronic diseases.
The hunger hormones
When your body needs food, the endocrine and nervous systems work in some sneaky ways to stimulate food intake.
Leptin: the hormone that lets your brain know when you’re full. In most cases, leptin helps you maintain your normal weight. However, people with obesity might have leptin resistance, which means the message to stop eating never gets signaled. When this happens, you tend to overeat.
Ghrelin: “the hunger hormone", works in the exact opposite way that leptin does. Ghrelin sends a message to your brain indicating when your stomach is empty and needs food. The levels of this hormone are highest before eating and lowest after a meal.
Work with your hormones, not against them 💚
By now, you might be realizing that hormones control a lot of what goes on within us. From feeling hungry or full, to how quickly our metabolism works, and the distribution of fat in our bodies. If our hormones are off balance, they can influence our weight.
As long as you learn how to work with your hormones, and improve your hormonal health, all is not lost! By making positive lifestyle changes, especially maintaining a healthy body weight, you can lower your risk of the previously mentioned unfavorable health conditions.
Consuming nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and engaging in other health-promoting behaviors, such as meditating and getting enough sleep, may go a long way towards improving your hormonal health.
If you keep your hormones happy, chances are, you’ll be a lot happier too 😊