Weight Loss Block #2 Hormone Havoc
Did you know that women with PMS and women with Menopausal symptoms find it more difficult to maintain their ideal body weight?
Weight loss is not always as simple as 'eat less & move more'.
There are 8 physiological blocks to weight loss that have nothing at all to do with calories or exercise.
The second of the 8 blocks is Sex Hormone issues. Truth be told there are many more hormones involved in weight loss resistance, but we'll be covering those separately in an upcoming post on insulin resistance and endocrine depletion.
In the meantime, let's look at 13 ways that imbalances in the sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone & testosterone) can block weight loss:
1 - Body shape - At puberty, estrogen makes our breasts take shape, broadens our hips and gives us curves. It causes fat to be laid down on our hips, bottom and thighs. With estrogen dominance, we lay down more fat than we need (additionally, after menopause excess estrogen causes the ‘apple body’ shape with the addition of dangerous visceral belly fat marbled in the organs in our abdominal cavity, making for hard swollen bellies). This issue relates to men as well - except they will lose their muscle tone, get 'man boobs' and have a hard 'beer' belly (which is really just an estrogen belly).
2 - Water Retention - Excess estrogen also causes water retention, making you feel puffy and fat at 'that time of the month' until hormones return to balance. This water weight gain ‘tricks’ women into thinking they’ve gained fat. The thought of 'that' often causes them to eat poorly because they incorrectly assume they have gained fat (when it's just water). The next thought that often crosses the mind is ‘nothing I do works anyway, so I might as well eat whatever I feel like’ - which is usually refined sugar and starchy carbs initiating a carb binging cycle that leads to long term weight gain.
3 - Puffy Legs - Excess estrogen also promotes weight gain, cellulite, fluid retention and bloating in the lower body.
4 - The Cycle - Fat cells themselves produce estrogen - so it becomes a revolving cycle. The more fat you have the more estrogen dominance you'll have - the more you store more fat.
5 - Metabolism - Estrogen dominance also plays a role in slowing the metabolism by inhibiting or blocking the delivery of thyroid hormones to the cells that need it. This will result in weight gain, even if it appears that the thyroid gland itself is functioning fine.
6 - Sugar Burner - Excess estrogen lowers the hormone progesterone. This causes your body to favour using glucose as your predominant fuel instead of using stored body fat for energy.
7 - Loss of Muscle Mass - excess estrogen can inhibit optimal testosterone levels, leading to muscle loss which lowers the metabolism.
8 - Not Enough Estrogen - Too little estrogen can also cause weight gain. One form of estrogen called estradiol decreases at menopause. This hormone helps to regulate metabolism and body weight. In it's deficiency, you are more likely to gain weight.
9. Xenoestrogens - Estrogenic substances (xenoestrogens) are 'obesogenic'. The term obesogen was coined by Bruce Blumberg, a biology professor at the University of California, when he discovered that the industrial chemical tributyltin (TBT) activated pathways in the body causing new fat cells to be generated and increasing the fat in existing cells.
10. Carb Cravings - As the level of estrogen drops before your period, so does the level of serotonin (your feel good hormone), thus causing cravings for carbs, which momentarily elevates serotonin, but also triggers insulin the fat storage hormone.
11. Menopause - During perimenopause, the ovaries gradually reduce their production of estrogen and the adrenals have to take over. If you are too stressed or deficient in nutrition, for your adrenals to be able to do so adequately - your body will then store more belly fat, because belly fat produces more estrogen.
12. Progesterone - Declining progesterone levels in menopause (again related to adrenal stress) causes water retention and bloating, making your belly stick out and your clothes feel tighter.
13. Aging - as we age we lose muscle mass (unless we do something about that), and at the same time, fat targets the abdomen. You may not be gaining weight on the scale, but your clothes might fit differently as your belly becomes hard and sticks our, while your legs get thinner (due to the loss of muscle mass). As this muscle mass continues to decline, metabolism slows and it becomes more likely that extra fat will eventually be distributed all over the body, instead of just the belly.
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