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March 17, 2024

The link between hormones and weight gain, explained

Filed under: Fitness — Tags: — admin @ 11:03 pm

While there is plenty of talk about hormones, and even hormones and weight gain, what is less clear is the link between the two.

Do all hormones cause weight gain? Or are hormonal changes and weight gain specifically an age-related thing?

What are the signs there could be issues with your hormones, and then, what do you do about it?

If hormones and weight are on your mind, here is everything you need to know.

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Young healthy girl on home scales

What are hormones?

Hormones are chemical messengers that control a number of key functions in the body, including glucose regulation, the reproductive cycle and the sleep/wake cycle.

While hormones are frequently associated with a number of issues in the body, including weight gain, mood and energy, primarily there are a couple of hormones that are directly involved in glucose regulation and fat metabolism.

What is the link between hormones and weight gain?

If weight is on your mind, the key hormone to be considering is insulin. Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas when carbohydrate rich foods are consumed and is the central regulator of both glucose and fat metabolism in the body.

Insulin helps to transport glucose molecules into the body’s cells to be used as energy. When insulin is not working as efficiently as it should be, glucose regulation is impacted and you may notice that you are regularly craving sweet food, feel tired and lethargic and may be slowly gaining weight over time.

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Eating sweet beans at work

When insulin is not working well, the body secretes more it, and high insulin levels promote fat storage around the belly. This is why abdominal weight gain may be suggestive of insulin related dysfunction.

While there may be hormonal changes during the forties and fifties for women who are moving through perimenopause and menopause, these are somewhat normal, as oestrogen levels natural decrease. For some women this may result in some weight gain, but the experience tends to be more gradual.

The other key group of hormones that are closely linked to metabolism, and at times weight gain, are the thyroid group of hormones. Thyroid dysfunction may present as extreme fatigue, weight gain and feeling cold, and warrants medical investigation should you be experiencing these symptoms.

What are the signs you could have issues with your hormones?

Any unexplained weight gain, especially rapid weight gain, warrants medical investigation as does unexplained fatigue.

In particular, abdominal weight gain may be specifically suggestive of insulin dysfunction and warrants further glucose testing to determine if you may have insulin resistance which could be making weight loss difficult.

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Peaceful pretty 20s girl lying on back on comfortable couch at home, covering eyes with hand, sleeping at daytime, feeling tired, enjoying relaxation, leisure, break, weekend. Top view

What are the steps you should take to improve your diet and help your hormones?

For hormone-related weight gain, the two key nutrients to pay particular attention to are carbs and protein. If you have a family history of Type 2 diabetes or have been diagnosed with PCOS or insulin and glucose related issues, reducing your overall intake of carbohydrate and opting for wholegrain and natural sources of carbs in your diet is crucial to help control glucose and insulin levels.

This means processed forms of carbohydrate including white rice, bread, cakes, biscuits and snack food are best avoided, as they result in relatively rapid increases in blood glucose levels, driving insulin release and making fat loss more challenging.

On the other hand, controlled portions of vegetable-based carbs like sweet potato, wholegrain breads and crackers, dairy and fruit are better types of carbohydrate to include in your diet, as they are digested more slowly.

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Close-up of a woman mixing oats flour, banana and blueberries in a bowl. Female making healthy breakfast in kitchen.

The other important nutrient is protein, found primarily in animal-based foods including lean meat, chicken, fish, dairy and soy-based foods like tofu.

Not only does eating a diet with a higher proportion of protein support satiety and appetite control, but teaming a carbohydrate rich food with a protein rich food helps to keep blood glucose levels more tightly regulated, helping to control insulin and support fat loss.

This means that it is much better to enjoy an egg on toast than just toast with spread, or a salad with tuna, rather than a plain one.

Susie Burrell’s new eBook Medication, Hormones and Weight Loss is available now


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