Which Of These 5 Hormones Could Be Blocking Your Weight Loss Goals?

If conventional advice is anything to go by, the only reason people gain weight is because they eat too much and don’t exercise enough.

This “calories in/calories out” paradigm is often seen as the gold standard in measuring whether someone should be losing or gaining fat.

But is it really the whole story?

Put aside the fact that obesity rates continue to climb at an alarming rate…

How many people do you know that eat well, exercise regularly and yet still can’t seem to shed a single pound?

In some cases, they even continue to put on weight even though they’re doing everything they’ve been told to the letter.

Maybe I just described you!

It isn’t necessarily a lack of effort in sticking to the recommended regime that’s causing the weight gain.

In fact, studies show that weight gain can have more to do with your hormones and how they affect the fat levels in your body than it does with exercise or the amount of food you’re eating.

Let’s take a look at some of the different hormones and how they affect body composition.

Thyroid Hormones & Weight Gain

Your thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland in your neck.

Although it isn’t very large it “is a vitally important hormonal gland that plays a major role in the metabolism, growth and maturation of the human body”.(1)

The hormones that it secretes play a significant part in deciding how much fat your body decides to store.

“Body composition and thyroid hormones..play an important role in lipid and glucose metabolism, food intake and fat oxidation”(2)

When the thyroid gland is abnormally sluggish, this is a condition known as “hypothyroidism”.

This condition can cause a multitude of unwelcome symptoms that affect body composition, including unexplained weight gain and muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness.(3)

Sometimes symptoms can manifest themselves by pushing you to make poor food choices, further exacerbating the problem of weight gain.

If you’ve found yourself in front of the fridge at 1 am craving something sweet, it might be your thyroid hormone levels that are to blame.

In his book “Wilson’s Syndrome, The Miracle of Feeling Well”, Dr Wilson described a form of hypothyroidism that can“affect the function of enzymes involved in glucose metabolism that could result in lower blood sugar levels which might contribute to sweet cravings.”(4)

Low levels of thyroid hormone can have knock-on effects to other hormonal processes, which can be reversed as soon as normal levels are restored.

One study into the relation between hypothyroidism and testosterone found that “free testosterone concentrations are reduced in men with primary hypothyroidism and thyroid hormone replacement normalizes free testosterone concentrations.”(5)

As I’ll explain later, low testosterone levels have their own, significant, side effects on weight gain.

This goes to show how the cascade of hormonal consequences started by hypothyroidism can be far-reaching.

Estrogen Dominance & Weight Gain

A condition that is caused by estrogen levels being too high in relation to other hormones, particularly progesterone.

Both men and women need estrogen for normal sexual function.

However, it is increasingly more common for estrogen levels to be outside of the normal range.

This is because there are so many sources of xenoestrogens (estrogen produced outside of the body) in the environment.

These include pesticides, plastics, preservatives, building supplies and even skin care products. (6)(7)

The exposure and subsequent increase in estrogen can lead to water retention, fat gain and bloating.(8)

As if this isn’t enough, it is a self-propagating problem.

In the body, estrogen is produced by either the ovaries or testicles, in the adrenal glands and fat cells.(9)

The more fat cells a person has, the more estrogen their body will produce.

Once this cycle has started, unless a balance is restored, weight gain is almost inevitable.

High Insulin and Weight Gain

If you’ve been following the latest diet trends over the past few years, you’ve probably seen the high carb vs. high fat diet debates.

The “standard American diet” is a typical high carb diet in which approximately 50% of the calorie intake is sourced from carbohydrates.

High fat diets, of which “The Atkins Diet” is probably the most well known, take the calorie intake from carbohydrates down as low as 5% while fat makes up to 60% of the calories consumed in a day.(10)

Beneath the surface, these diets are really high insulin vs. low insulin.

“Insulin is a hormone made by the pancreas that allows your body to use sugar (glucose) from carbohydrates in the food that you eat for energy or to store glucose for future use”.(11)

What does your body do with glucose that it’s storing for “future use”?

Turns it into fat and uses it to pump up that spare tire around your waist!

Insulin itself isn’t bad, it’s simply a tool that your body uses to create and store energy.

The real issue is that for many overweight people, they have consumed sugary foods to such an extent that their insulin response isn’t working as well as it should.

When their body detects the presence of carbohydrates and releases insulin in response, their cells fail to respond to it in the normal way.

This is a condition known as “insulin resistance”.

Often, even if they can lose weight through dieting, unless their insulin response is normalized they are at a high risk of regaining the weight.

Too much insulin in your body can be a fast track to weight gain.

A study that tested adding insulin to oral therapy being provided to 708 patients with type 2 diabetes found that more insulin=more weight gain.

The group with the highest amount of insulin over the study period had 300% more weight gain that the group that wasn’t given insulin.

4 Foods That Block Weight Loss

If you’re gaining weight or failing to lose weight, in spite of doing everything else right, watch the video on the next page to learn:

  • 4 Foods Often Promoted By The Media As “Healthy” That Have Recently Been Proven By Studies To Put You At Risk Of Diabetes, Hormonal Imbalances, Weight Loss Resistance And Even Cancer
  • 3 Powerful Fat-Burning Tips That Can Help You Overcome Your Weight Loss Resistance And Burn Fat From Where It Matters Most.
  • How Seemingly Innocent Household Products Containing Dangerous Chemicals Can Be Causing Fatigue, Low Energy And Belly Fat

High Cortisol and Weight Gain

Our bodies produce cortisol in response to stressful situations.

Its role is to “increase blood sugar through gluconeogenesis, to suppress the immune system, and to aid in the metabolism of fat, protein, and carbohydrates”(14)

If you suddenly find yourself needing to run away from a lion in the jungle, you’re going to need a sudden burst of energy to get away as quickly as possible.

Not that I’m recommending being chased by lions regularly as a way to lose fat!

In fact, if your cortisol response is activated too often it can have very negative consequences.

In the modern world, it can seem normal to be always stressed.

Constantly connected to technology, not enough sleep, worrying about work and finances…

Sound familiar?

If you’re suffering from long-term stress, you’re more prone to storing fat.

Studies have shown an “association between uncontrollable stress and abdominal fat distribution.”

One particular study tested the amount of cortisol secreted by overweight women when put in stressful situations.

They found that “cortisol secretion might represent a mechanism for the observed association between stress and abdominal fat distribution.”(15)

But that isn’t all.

Because cortisol is used to break down tissue, if it’s elevated above the normal levels for a period, it will start to break down the most available source of protein in your body – 

Your muscles.

This combination of extra fat storage and decreased muscle mass makes chronically elevated levels of cortisol a double blow for body composition.

Low Testosterone and Weight Gain

Testosterone is a hormone that is usually associated with men so you might be surprised to learn that women produce it too, albeit in far smaller quantities.

“Relatively small quantities of testosterone are released into the bloodstream by the ovaries and adrenal glands.”(17)

So while having low testosterone levels can be highly detrimental to health for a man, women aren’t let off the hook either.

In fact, a study into the link between low testosterone levels in women and mortality concluded that “low baseline testosterone in women is associated with increased all-cause mortality”(18)

In men, low testosterone levels often result in a condition called “hypogonadism.”

Apart from the obvious aesthetic issues with this, the effect can be far more wide reaching:

“The main symptoms of hypogonadism are reduced libido/erectile dysfunction, reduced muscle mass and strength, increased adiposity, osteoporosis/low bone mass, depressed mood and fatigue.”(19)

“Increased adiposity” means more stored fat.

“Testosterone has long been known to affect body fat distribution”(20)

Low testosterone in men and women can affect weight gain too.

Next Step

Factors such as exercise, food quality and quantity and lifestyle choices are undeniably important when it comes to controlling weight gain.

But hormones can be just as important, especially if they aren’t within normal levels.

And the foods that you’re eating as well as the lifestyle choices that you make, can be affecting your hormones.

4 Foods That Block Weight Loss

If you’re gaining weight or failing to lose weight, in spite of doing everything else right, watch the video on the next page to learn:

  • 4 Foods Often Promoted By The Media As “Healthy” That Have Recently Been Proven By Studies To Put You At Risk Of Diabetes, Hormonal Imbalances, Weight Loss Resistance And Even Cancer
  • 3 Powerful Fat-Burning Tips That Can Help You Overcome Your Weight Loss Resistance And Burn Fat From Where It Matters Most.
  • How Seemingly Innocent Household Products Containing Dangerous Chemicals Can Be Causing Fatigue, Low Energy And Belly Fat

No time to watch the video?

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  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0072572/
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15142373
  3. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hypothyroidism/basics/symptoms/con-20021179
  4. http://www.diagnose-me.com/symptoms-of/hypothyroidism.html
  5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15142373
  6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10188197
  7. https://womeninbalance.org/2012/10/26/xenoestrogens-what-are-they-how-to-avoid-them/
  8. http://www.chatelaine.com/health/diet/how-having-too-much-estrogen-can-make-you-gain-weight/
  9. http://nutritionresearchcenter.org/healthnews/estrogen-dominance-female-problems/
  10. http://www.aafp.org/afp/2006/0601/p1942.html
  11. http://www.endocrineweb.com/conditions/type-1-diabetes/what-insulin
  12. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24172304
  13. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa075392#t=abstract
  14. Hoehn K, Marieb EN (2010). Human Anatomy & Physiology. San Francisco: Benjamin Cummings. ISBN 0-321-60261-7.
  15. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16353426
  16. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC425032/
  17. http://www.webmd.com/women/guide/normal-testosterone-and-estrogen-levels-in-women
  18. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20685832
  19. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20518947
  20. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3282778/
  21. http://www.bostonmedicalgroup.com/associated-conditions/view/lower-testosterone-levels-seen-in-unhealthy-men

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