What are hormones? We all have them, and they exist throughout our bodies, carrying out various tasks. The technical definition is that they are chemical messengers directly secreted into the blood. Blood then carries hormones to different organs and tissues, allowing them to exert their functions.
We get our hormones from different glands in the body, known as endocrine glands. In a healthy human, hormones are secreted in the perfect quantities to carry out processes, keeping the body nice and stable. Unfortunately, lots of factors can influence hormone production and secretion, meaning we often make too much of some and not enough of others.
In turn, hormonal imbalances can lead to a variety of problems. We’re not going to look at all of these today – instead, our attention is specifically set on hormones and your weight.
How do hormones affect your weight?
Your weight is controlled by hormones – that’s a fact. Yes, working out and eating healthily will play a huge role, but one of the reasons these things help you lose weight is the impact they have on your hormones.
Put simply, hormones have a strong influence on your appetite and fat storage. Various hormones are responsible for functions that can affect these things. For example, insulin is one of the main fat storage hormones in your body. If you eat too much – particularly refined foods and sugary treats – insulin levels rise. When this happens, elevated insulin levels can cause obesity by making cells in your body store more fat than normal. As such, reducing insulin levels and keeping them in a healthy position can stop you from gaining too much weight.
Furthermore, you have two other key hormones that influence your appetite: leptin and ghrelin. Leptin is produced by your fat cells and makes you feel full. It signals to your brain that you’re no longer hungry and don’t need to eat. This stops you from overeating and storing excess fat in your body. By contrast, ghrelin does the opposite; it tells your brain that you feel hungry. Reduced leptin production will lead to increased ghrelin production, making your brain think you’re hungry all the time. You’re never satiated, so you constantly eat, eat, and eat. As a result, you put on weight and struggle to lose it because you always feel the urge to eat.
Similarly, the two main sex hormones can also play a role in weight loss/gain. It’s believed that elevated levels of estrogen will make your body store more fat – specifically around the bum and stomach area. Likewise, low levels of testosterone will do the same thing. Women need estrogen, but excessively high levels can be a bad thing, so you should look to control your production of it by eating lots of fiber and exercising. Of course, men need high levels of testosterone, and you can now get TRT at home if you are a man that needs to elevate his testosterone levels. Ironically, the things you do to reduce estrogen levels can also increase testosterone levels, helping you find the right hormonal balance.
How can you use hormones to lose weight?
Once you understand the role hormones play in your body, you can use them to your advantage in a bid to lose weight. Ultimately, you should focus on maintaining normal levels of insulin, increasing leptin production, and decreasing ghrelin production. Yes, the sex hormones should also be taken into account, but the good news is that working out and staying active will typically help you balance them out.
Moreover, controlling your hunger hormones is actually easier than you think. Mainly, you need to reduce your overall sugar intake as this can cause spikes in insulin production, ghrelin production, and cause a lack of leptin production. Again, exercising helps you get the right hormonal balance as well, and sleep encourages leptin production. A lack of sleep is often associated with weight gain because you feel hungrier every day. Eating protein with meals can also help by reducing ghrelin production and making you feel fuller for longer.
At the end of the day, you need to learn how to control your hormones if you want to lose weight. It is largely to do with encouraging your body to stop feeling hungry. This prevents the urge to snack, lowering your calorie intake and making it easy to get into the calorie deficit needed to lose body fat. Thankfully, the main things you need to do are stick to a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and get lots of sleep each night. Once you know how hormones are affected by your lifestyle choices, it becomes easier to motivate yourself to follow a healthier path.