Could my hormones be the cause of my weight gain? This is one of the most frequent questions that I get asked by patients daily. In fact, the two most common complaints I hear throughout my day are the following: “I’m tired and I can’t lose weight.”
So could hormones be causing these issues? The answer to this question is a resounding yes!! The hormones that cause weight gain in both men are women are the folllowing:
We will take each of these in order.
I evaluate a fasting blood sugar, fast insulin and HA1C on most of the patients that I see. These tests tell how well you are regulating your blood sugars. HA1C tells us your average blood sugar over the last 3 months. If these labs are abnormal, you are making too much insulin. Too much insulin leads to weight gain around your waste. If this goes on for too long, it will lead to type 2 Diabetes.
So how do we control insulin? The answer is the same each time. You have to change your diet. You have to eat regular meals throughout the day. I remember a time back when I finished my residency when I weighed 40 lbs. more than I do now and had a lot of weight around my waist. I was eating a diet high in sugar, bread and snackie cakes. I was eating to make it through the next day. I had my HA1C checked and I was in the pre-diabetes range. I knew I needed to make a change. So I went to work to figure out what I needed to do to lose weight, better control my blood sugars and fit into my old pants. I designed a diet plan called “Slim for Life.” I followed my own researched guidelines strictly for two years and lost 40 lbs. and got into the best sharp of my life. This diet plan focused on controlling blood sugars and calming down the negative effects of too much insulin. This plan is available in our clinic and over the years has been very successful in helping many people lose weight and rejuvenate their health.
The best way to evaluate cortisol is to do a salivary test at four points throughout the day. If you are making too much cortisol on the previous test, you will also gain weight around your waste. This high cortisol will also slow down your thyroid by blocking the conversion of T4 to T3. T3 is the active form of the thyroid. Cortisol is made during times of stress. As cortisol rises, your metabolism slows down. Check out my article on 3 Steps to Rejuvenate Energy for a longer explanation on cortisol. Some of the best ways to calm cortisol are to get 7 hours of sleep, have good stress strategies, eat regular meals during the day and calm the inflammation in your gut. Taking adaptogenic herbs like Ashwaghanda can be helpful as well.
As mentioned above, thyroid is effected by what is happening with stress and your cortisol levels. When having your thyroid evaluated, make sure you have a TSH, Ft4, Ft3, RT3 and thyroid antibodies checked. If you don’t have the T4 and T3 checked, you may miss the issue with not converting your inactive T4 to the active T3. Thyroid sets the throttle for your metabolism and if it is not working properly it will be very difficult to lose weight. Also, if your immune system is attacking your thyroid, it will have a hard time producing thyroid hormones. This is called Hoshimoto’s Disease. So the take home message is make sure you have your thyroid properly evaluated.
Both men and women produce estrogen. In women, it is like the Goldie Locks story. Too much estrogen relative to progesterone causes weight gain and too little estrogen (like during menopause) makes you less sensitive to insulin and will cause weight gain. Women in their 40’s no longer produce much progesterone. This creates estrogen dominance and thus leads to weight gain. Adding back natural progesterone to women can help balance out the estrogen dominance. So make sure that your level are balanced and in the normal healthy ranges for both estrogen and progesterone. This can be done with a simple blood test. When estrogen is too high in both men and women, your body will produce more hormone binding proteins. And guess what it loves to grab up out of your blood and keep it from working? Thyroid hormone! And like we said above, thyroid sets the throttle for your metabolism. If thyroid is tied up by the binding proteins, it cannot interact with the receptor sites for thyroid. These receptor sites are found on every single cell in your whole body!! No wonder low thyroid causes so many issues. So how do we balance the estrogen? One of the ways is by how we eat. If estrogen is too high, eating more veggies like broccoli and cauliflower will help your body metabolize estrogen out of your body. Also, taking a supplement like DIM can help in this process. For menopausal women, use bio-indentical hormone replacement can restore hormones back to healthy levels.
Hopefully, this helps shed some light on the subject. Come see us at Health Rejuvenation Institute and we can help you figure out your hormones.
Dr. Randy Lundell, DO