Hormones and weight loss after 40 are more closely related that most self-proclaimed gurus realize.
Does losing weight seem to get harder as you get older? For women over 40, there’s a link between hormonal fluctuations and weight loss – so your own lack of willpower or absence of determination may not the cause of your difficulties losing weight.
Even if you have problems with self-control and find yourself eating too much and not exercising enough, hormones may make the situation worse. A doctor can check your hormonal levels and find out if there are imbalances that can be brought under control.
Hormones are chemical messengers that the body sends into the bloodstream to control bodily processes, organs and more. They’re responsible for the proper functioning of every system of the body, so it’s no wonder hormones play an important role in maintaining a healthy weight.
Here are six specific hormones you need to make sure are in check:
When you have low levels of the thyroid hormone in your blood – a condition called hypothyroidism – it can lead to low metabolism and therefore weight gain and difficulty losing weight you put on. Low thyroid can lead to lots of other problems too, including dry skin, constipation and unexplained fatigue.
In fact, an entire organization, the American Thyroid Association, is devoted to thyroid health, and they make the relationship between hypothyroidism and weight very clear. But they also caution that the relationship is complex, and that no more than 5 to 10 pounds of excess weight are likely to be caused by the thyroid.
If you’re diagnosed with low thyroid, you need treatment. But you may soon realize that the thyroid – while important for the proper functioning of every system in the body – is blamed for many things that may not be its fault. There are also other causes at play.
Discover more about how iodine deficiency affects thyroid balance.
Often mentioned these days, cortisol is released when you’re unhappy, stressed or sleepy. It’s proven that a rise in cortisol can create weight gain, especially around the abdomen. Cortisol derails weight loss efforts because it generates food cravings and increases appetite too.
Cortisol can also break down muscle tissue – a really bad thing – and it can even lead to depression, which leads to more eating.
Simply put, cortisol makes and keeps you fat. If you need evidence, a 2014 study involving sheep published in the Journal of Endocrinology is among the research that proves the point.
Getting cortisol levels in check can help you achieve greater balance of hormones and achieve weight loss after 40. To do that, the prescription is to reduce stress and get more exercise. Have you heard that before?
Diabetes is a disease that results from the body’s inability to manage or produce insulin, but anyone can have an imbalance of insulin in the body. Produced in the pancreas, this hormone regulates how we deal with fats and carbohydrates. And as diabetics know, it regulates usage of glucose – or sugar.
When your insulin levels are high – whether you’re actually diabetic or not – you gain weight and have trouble losing the weight you’re already carrying.
As you age and eat a lot of sugary foods, you can build up insulin resistance, a condition that causes insulin to be less effective for you in regulating blood sugar. Because insulin resistance and diabetes are related, you need to get the situation under control for long-term health as well as weight control.
Some research has shown that decreasing insulin resistance may be as simple as having some apple cider vinegar before a meal.
As you may know, estrogen is the female sex hormone, and levels of estrogen in the body decrease during menstruation and also after menopause, which often happens around age 40. This means that many women go through frequent hormonal fluctuations that culminate in a pretty significant imbalance of hormones after menopause.
And here’s something else that’s a bit discouraging: estrogen is created by fat cells, meaning that the fatter you are, the more out of whack your hormones can become.
When estrogen, thyroid hormones and cortisol are in flux, your body may start to hoard fat. You can partially counter this by including phytoestrogens and omega 3 fatty acid in your diet from sources like flaxseeds, avocados and coconut oil.
Discover more key facts about estrogen dominance and weight loss.
Estrogen and progesterone work together, and fluctuating estrogen levels usually means fluctuating progesterone as well. Menopause leads to a decrease in progesterone, and that can lead to weight gain in several ways.
Among them is water retention, which causes bloating. How often have you heard an older woman say that she would look and feel much better if she could just shed the water weight? It’s water weight that causes the body to look full from top to bottom – but especially where most women don’t want to be full-figured, around the thighs and hips.
And get this: cortisol suppresses progesterone, which can lead to estrogen dominance and the problems that come with this condition – and those include weight issues.
A big decrease in testosterone levels during menopause can decrease metabolism and result in weight gain. In fact, a growing number of experts believe that the loss of testosterone – and the loss or fluctuation of estrogen – is most at fault for weight issues, fatigue and the loss of mental focus for women in midlife. And testosterone loss may result in libido loss too. When it comes to hormones and weight loss after 40, testosterone is a key factor for men.
Some women are even turning to testosterone supplementation to counter this problem, although that’s still rare.
And it should remain rare. Dietary changes, exercise and stress reduction techniques can do more for bringing hormonal levels in check than hormone supplementation in most cases – and these smart changes are a lot safer. Hormone supplements have unintended side effects you want to avoid.
Hormones And Weight Loss After 40: Conclusion
Hormones are so important in weight loss that their levels may not adjust well after significant weight loss. In fact, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2011 found that a year after weight loss, some appetite-related hormones were still not at their proper levels. The study authors recommended considering actions to counteract these hormones to prevent gaining weight again.
And that’s what it all comes down to. Once you realize what role hormones are playing in your problems with weight loss after 40, it makes sense to take action.
The right actions are actions that have been suggested for years – and for other reasons. These include things like a smarter diet, more exercise and sensible dietary supplements designed to counteract these changes and fluctuations.
You don’t have to settle for getting fatter as you get older. Hormones and weight loss after 40 are a complex issue, but you can tackle the problem and find ways to maintain your ideal weight.