Can Hormone Imbalance Cause Weight Gain?
Can hormone imbalance cause weight gain? A healthy diet and regular exercise would be all you need to maintain a healthy weight in a perfect world. But for some, the scale stays the same no matter how much time is spent in the gym or how strict the diet is. For some people, despite legitimate attempts at weight loss, their weight may even increase.
If you suffer from a hormonal imbalance, your body works against you. The result? Unwanted weight gain and other potential medical problems. Hormonal imbalances and weight gain are hot topics. Let’s look at the relationship between hormone levels and weight gain.
Hormones and Weight Gain
However, keeping a healthy weight can feel like a challenging task. Carrying too much weight (or too little) affects our hormone levels. These “unbalanced” hormone levels are a common cause of weight fluctuations.
What are hormones, and why do they affect our weight so much? Hormones are essential chemical “messengers.” They travel through the bloodstream to reach tissues and organs throughout the body. Hormones play a critical role in coordinating and controlling vital bodily functions.
The endocrine system becomes unbalanced if your body accidentally over or underproduces hormones.
The most common result of hormonal imbalances is weight gain. People with hormonal issues experience unexplained weight gain even when dieting and exercising regularly. Additional warning signs of a hormonal imbalance include:
- Mood swings and depression
- Low sex drive
- Skin problems (like acne)
- Fertility problems
- Weakness and fatigue
Hormone imbalances are common, particularly in women. A 2019 survey in the New York Post found that almost 50% of women experience signs of hormone imbalance.
The thyroid gland is in the neck, near the “Adam’s apple.” It creates thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These two hormones are critical for normal hormone function. The Thyroid plays a vital role in keeping a healthy weight. The thyroid gland supports a healthy metabolism, growth rate, and sexual development. When thyroid imbalances occur, people experience unexplained weight loss and weight gain.
Other symptoms of a thyroid disorder include:
- Frequent constipation
- Cold or heat sensitivity
- Fatigue and weakness
- Irregular heartbeats
- Dry skin
- Hair loss
There are two main problems that occur when the Thyroid fails to function properly. One is hypothyroidism, and the other is hyperthyroidism. Hypothyroidism occurs when the Thyroid fails to produce enough hormones. A poorly functioning thyroid gland slows metabolism, keeping you from burning extra fat. Hypothyroidism can cause joint pain, heart disease, skin problems, hair loss, and infertility.
Five percent of U.S. adults are thought to suffer from hypothyroidism. Conversely, hyperthyroidism can cause unexplained weight loss. Hyperthyroidism results from an overactive thyroid gland producing too much thyroxine. Elevated thyroxine levels increase your metabolism, causing weight loss and irregular heartbeat.
There are several ways to manage Thyroid conditions. People with thyroid problems must watch the foods they eat and get adequate exercise and sleep to keep their hormones in check.
Leptin is a hormone released from cells located in adipose tissue (fat), and it signals the brain to tell you to stop eating. This important hormone regulates food intake and energy expenditure and enables us to maintain a healthy body weight.
Leptin directly affects your body fat percentage. When we gain weight, our leptin levels go up. When we lose weight, leptin levels will decrease. With regular body function, Leptin will decrease our appetite and cause the body to use fat stores as energy sources.
When leptin levels rise, the body becomes resistant to it. A resistance to Leptin can lead to overeating. When our bodies stop registering the climbing leptin levels, it produces even more Leptin. Leptin resistance could be the primary cause of weight gain in people. Leptin resistance presents hunger after meals, poor energy levels, and difficulty losing weight.
Cortisol, the Stress Hormone
The adrenal glands, found at the top of the kidneys, secrete Cortisol. Because Cortisol is our primary stress hormone, and it controls our mood, energy, motivation, fear, and the sleep cycle. Cortisol is crucial in controlling inflammation, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure.
Another vital function of Cortisol is managing how the body uses carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Elevated cortisol levels cause elevated insulin levels. High Cortisol levels alter thyroid function, cause weight fluctuations, and lower metabolism.
Cortisol imbalances often result from stress. What’s more, elevated stress levels cause the adrenals to produce too much Cortisol.
Stresses that lead to greater cortisol levels include:
- Lack of sleep
- Traumatic event or injury
- Severe infections
- Major life changes
- Emotional imbalances
Elevated Cortisol causes insulin resistance. It’s equally important to note that Insulin resistance can cause unexplained weight gain, high blood sugar levels, and in severe cases, Type II Diabetes.
Male and Female Hormones
Estrogen plays a vital role in regulating metabolism and controlling body weight. During menopause, women’s estrogen levels begin to decrease gradually. That means decreased estrogen levels lead to unwanted weight gain.
Other conditions that can lead to lowered estrogen levels include:
- Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- Ovary removal (Oophorectomy)
Like the relationship between estrogen and weight gain, testosterone affects men’s body fat. Men with low testosterone levels often have greater amounts of body fat than men with normal testosterone levels. Various medical conditions, advancing age, injuries, alcohol abuse, and certain medications can cause lowered testosterone levels.
Balanced Hormones for Weight Loss
Finally, can hormone imbalance cause weight gain? Hormone levels and body weight are closely related. Fluctuating hormone levels can lead to a host of different problems. Those problems include increased appetite, slowing metabolism, and weight gain. Fortunately, weight gain from hormone imbalances can be treated with BHRT. Contact a BHRT provider serving Arvada, Denver, and Wheat Ridge, Colorado to learn if BHRT can help with your weight loss.