In the world of dieting, the hormone leptin has come to be known as the “famine hormone” for its role in signaling the body to stop eating when full. If you think about it that way, it’s not surprising that many people have tried to reduce their ‘overeating’ by taking leptin blockers. Now, a new study is shedding light on the emerging field of obesity and hormones, and how leptin could play an important role in weight loss and weight gain.
Have you ever wondered if there is a correlation between your eating habits and your weight? If so, the answer is as clear as a bell: there is a relationship between weight and hormones. And the more you know about your hormone levels, the more control you have over your weight.
Do you want to lose weight? Here is number 15 of my top 17 choices. All published tips can be found on the How to Lose Weight page.
Before we begin, here is a brief summary of the advice given so far: The first and most important tip is to follow a low-carb diet. The following persons were present: Eat when you are hungry, eat real food, measure your progress wisely, think long term, avoid fruit, alcohol and artificial sweeteners, review your medication, stress less and sleep more, eat less dairy and nuts, supplement with vitamins and minerals, exercise and finally achieve optimal ketosis.
This is number fifteen:
15. Check your hormones
So you have followed the previous advice, made major changes to your lifestyle and ensured that there is no longer a drug or vitamin deficiency. They even tried to be in optimal ketosis for a while (which makes for low insulin levels). And you still can’t reach your normal weight?
If this is the case with you, it is time to consider the possibility that a hormonal imbalance is the cause of your problems. There are three general concerns:
- Thyroid hormone
- Sex hormones
- Stress hormones
Some people, especially women, suffer from reduced metabolism due to a lack of thyroid hormone – hypothyroidism. Common symptoms include:
- Cold Intolerance
- Dry skin
- Weight gain
In these cases, the weight gain due to the reduction in metabolism usually does not exceed fifteen kilograms.
Your doctor can easily order a blood test to measure the level of your thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). If your test results are good, your thyroid is probably in good shape. For a more accurate diagnosis, you can ask them to measure the actual thyroid hormone levels in your blood (T3 and T4).
Two ways to prevent thyroid hormone deficiency:
- Make sure you get enough iodine, the building block of thyroid hormone. Fish, shellfish and iodized salt (or sea salt) are good sources.
- Very low thyroid hormone levels usually indicate an autoimmune reaction against the thyroid gland itself. This means you will need to take oral thyroid hormone supplements, usually a stable form of T4 (Levaxin), which your doctor may prescribe. Your body converts it into the active hormone T3 when needed. The supplementation dose should be chosen so that normal hormone levels (TSH, T3, T4) are achieved and symptoms are sufficiently relieved – although some people feel better when TSH levels are slightly lower than normal.
Some people feel better when they add an already active T3 (sometimes prepared from pig thyroid), as this can have a more powerful effect than the T4 hormone, but its effects are often more difficult to control. The Swedish health care system rarely prescribes or offers this T3 treatment, as it is often of no use and can be risky in high doses over a long period of time.
Hypothyroidism type 2
Some alternative health coaches will diagnose hypothyroidism type 2 if you have symptoms such as fatigue, etc., despite your blood levels of thyroid hormone being normal, and will recommend that you take supplements anyway. Be skeptical. It is more likely that you are trying to mask other health problems (i.e. the real causes of your symptoms) by pumping your body full of excessive doses of thyroid hormone.
Of course, some people feel more alive and alert (at least in the short term) when they overdose on thyroid hormone. On the other hand, many people feel more alive and energetic when they take amphetamines. But that doesn’t mean their fatigue is due to a lack of amphetamine!
Sex hormones also affect your weight:
Women: Women may suffer from an endocrine disorder, PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), where testosterone and insulin levels are elevated. This can lead to weight gain and irregular menstruation (which are common), infertility, acne and hair growth in men (e.g. facial hair). A good treatment is to follow a low-carb diet. Learn more about PCOS.
During menopause, the level of the female sex hormone, estrogen, decreases. This often leads to weight gain, especially around the abdomen (called central obesity). Post-menopausal obesity tends to assume less feminine, less shapely proportions.
Men: From middle age, the male sex hormone, testosterone, gradually decreases in men. This leads to a slight weight gain, especially in the abdominal area, and a decrease in muscle mass.
What can be done about sex hormones?
Testosterone deficiency can be remedied, at least in part, naturally by adequate exercise and vitamin D supplementation.
Of course, you can also do something about your testosterone levels by asking your doctor to prescribe a testosterone supplement (a blood test will confirm the deficiency). Women can take estrogen supplements for menopausal symptoms.
However, it is important to remember that taking testosterone or estrogen in unusually high doses for your age for years increases the risk of prostate cancer (in men) and breast cancer (in women).
Maybe you need to accept that you don’t have (and shouldn’t have!) the body of a 20-year-old when you’re a few times your age. Perhaps the best solution is to try to focus on a healthy lifestyle and be as happy and grateful as possible for the body you have.
A final possible culprit for stubborn weight problems could be the stress hormone cortisol. Excess cortisol increases the feeling of hunger, which leads to weight gain later in life. The most common cause of high cortisol levels is chronic stress and lack of sleep (see tip #10) or taking cortisone medication (tip #9). Doing your best to achieve it is a good thing.
In rare and extreme cases, it may be a specific type of tumor that stimulates cortisol production. This condition is called Cushing’s syndrome. If you think you may have it, contact your doctor and he or she will perform the necessary tests.
The 15 tips: How to lose weight
Frequently Asked Questions
Can hormone testing help with weight loss?
Hormone testing can help with weight loss by helping to identify the underlying cause of weight gain. Hormone testing can help with weight loss by helping to identify the underlying cause of weight gain.
How do you check your hormones to lose weight?
There are many ways to check your hormones. Some of the most common methods include: Blood tests Saliva tests Stool tests Urinalysis Hair tests Skin tests There are many ways to check your hormones. Some of the most common methods include: Blood tests Saliva tests Stool tests Urinalysis Hair tests Skin tests
How can I fix my hormones to lose weight?
There are many ways to fix your hormones. You can take a supplement, change your diet, or do some exercise.
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