Unless you’re going through adolescence, perimenopause, or menopause, neither you nor your doctor probably think that much about hormones. If you’re a man, your doctor may never have even mentioned your hormone levels during your annual checkup. But both men and women undergo shifts in their hormones as they age or when they’re under stress, and these shifts can profoundly affect their metabolism.
Pallavi Cherukupally, MD, founder and leader of Regenerative Sports, Spine & Spa in Orlando, understands the interplay between hormones, metabolism, and achieving or maintaining a healthy weight. Here she outlines a few of the ways unbalanced hormones interfere with your weight-loss and maintenance efforts.
Even when you’re young, if you suffer from insomnia or don’t get restful sleep, you produce more than normal amounts of the hormones ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin is the hormone that tells your body you’re hungry. Leptin is supposed to turn off the hunger signal when you’re full, but if your hormones are unbalanced, your body becomes resistant to leptin’s signal.
Women in perimenopause or menopause and men in andropause experience drops in essential hormones such as progesterone and testosterone. Without enough progesterone or testosterone, you may have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping long enough. The lack of sleep then affects your balance of ghrelin and leptin, making it more likely that you’ll overeat or feel hungry even after a full meal.
Lack of sleep also affects your insulin production. Without enough of the hormone insulin, your blood-glucose levels can rise, leading your body to store more fat and putting you at risk for type 2 diabetes.
Drops in the hormones testosterone and estrogen make it harder to build and maintain sufficient muscle mass as you age. A diet low in protein also negatively affects muscle mass. When you have less muscle tissue in proportion to body fat, your metabolism slows down, making it harder to burn the calories you consume.
In a vicious cycle, as you lose muscle, you gain more fat. And fat deposits actually release hormones that interfere with insulin’s ability to turn calories into energy. Instead, the calories get stored as fat or circulate in your blood as elevated glucose levels.
The hormone cortisol is sometimes called the “stress hormone” because your body releases it when you’re frightened, angry, or just plain stressed out. Today’s 24/7 work schedule and news cycle and the constant emotional pressures can keep your cortisol levels high.
When you’re stressed and have high cortisol levels, your body goes into survival mode. In this state, your body wants to hold onto every calorie it can in preparation for a possible starvation period. A sign that you’re experiencing stress-related weight gain is fat around the belly, sometimes referred to as a muffin top.
Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in your throat that regulates your metabolism. If your thyroid is underactive — a condition known as hypothyroidism — you may gain weight more easily than you do when your thyroid is at normal levels. Hypothyroidism makes you more likely to retain water, too, leading to an average weight gain of 5-10 pounds.
Your body can only function optimally when your hormones are balanced. If you’d like to lose weight, Dr. Cherukupally first conducts a thorough physical examination to be sure that you don’t have an underlying health condition that’s affecting your weight gain. She also tests all of your hormone levels to find out where you may be deficient.
Depending on her findings, Dr. Cherukupally may recommend restoring your hormones with bioidentical hormone therapy (BHRT). She provides BHRT for both women and men. You can choose from various delivery systems, such as:
Once your hormones are balanced, you should have an easier time losing weight and maintaining a stable weight once you’ve achieved it. You may also experience other benefits, including reversal of menopause and andropause symptoms, such as depression, insomnia, and thinning hair.
To find out if BHRT can help balance your hormones so you can stabilize your weight, moods, and more, contact us today by phone or online form.