If you’re having trouble losing weight, it could be your hormones.  Successful weight loss often requires more than eating a healthy diet and working out. For many people, lasting weight loss must start with a close look at any hormone imbalances and their causes. Once you get your hormones back in equilibrium and doing their proper jobs, losing weight becomes much less of a challenge. Let’s take a look at some of the major hormones that can make weight loss difficult.

1. Cortisol

Cortisol is a ” stress hormone” secreted by your body as part of its fight-or-flight response in the face of danger or perceived danger. It’s also associated with excessive alcohol consumption. Cortisol also promotes the secretion of insulin, which in excess promotes storage of abdominal fat and increases appetite.

Obviously, you can’t get rid of all the stressors in your life, but you can change and control how you react to them. Managing stress is important for keeping cortisol production down, preventing weight gain, and losing weight. If you really want to achieve weight loss, you’ll need to find coping mechanisms that work for you and have them ready at your disposal. So, for example, when you find yourself about to reach the tipping point, you could spend time meditating or go for a jog.

2. Thyroid hormones

Your thyroid, located at the base of your neck, produces three important hormones – T3, T4, and calcitonin – responsible for regulating your metabolism, growth, brain development, heart rate, and sleep. Sometimes, your thyroid under-produces these hormones, resulting in a condition known as hypothyroidism. This condition often leads to weight gain, water retention (sometimes as much as ten pounds), high blood cholesterol, lowered heart rate, fatigue, constipation, and depression. The causes of hypothyroidism are many and include nutritional deficiencies, gluten intolerance, and environmental toxins.

You have several options for treating a thyroid hormone imbalance in your quest for weight loss, but the first step is to have your thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH), T3, and T4 tested. After that, you can make sure to eat plenty of well-cooked vegetables and consume sufficient iodized salt. In addition, be sure to eat zinc-containing foods such as oysters and pumpkin seeds, and take fish oil and vitamin D supplements.

3. Insulin

Most of us are aware of what happens when insulin goes haywire, the ultimate result being diabetes. This hormone is produced by your pancreas and serves to carry glucose into body cells to be utilized for energy or stored as fat. When your pancreas produces too much insulin, your body becomes insulin resistant, with the result that glucose — instead of being absorbed by muscle cells — remains in the blood stream, causing a spike in blood-sugar levels. The eventual outcome is weight gain and type 2 diabetes.

If you suspect insulin issues, consult your doctor and get your blood-sugar levels checked. Then you can take these steps (usually lifestyle changes) to counteract insulin resistance and weight gain and then move toward weight loss:

  • Begin exercising/working out, usually about four hours per week
  • Stay away from processed foods, alcohol, and sugary drinks
  • Eat low-calorie but nutrient-dense foods
  • Drink plenty of water daily
  • Eat plenty of green leafy vegetables
  • Eat foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish, nuts, olive oil, and flaxseed

4. Leptin

Leptin is produced by fat cells and lets your brain know how much fat your body has and how full you are after eating. With low leptin, you feel hungry even after eating enough. So getting and keeping leptin at the right level is crucial for avoiding weight gain and achieving weight loss.

It gets worse, though. As you gain weight and move toward obesity, you begin to become resistant to leptin. At this stage, then, even if your leptin levels are high enough, your brain doesn’t get the right signal telling it you’ve eaten enough and/or have enough fat. Then you’re at risk for both heart problems and diabetes.

There are two important things you can do to manage leptin levels for weight loss: exercise and sleep. Any exercise is good, but resistance training (weight training) has been shown to be better for managing leptin levels. Good and adequate sleep is also important because leptin is produced while you sleep. That’s why people who suffer from chronic sleep deprivation usually feel hungrier and are often overweight.

5. Ghrelin

Produced by the stomach, ghrelin is often called the “hunger hormone.” When your stomach is empty, ghrelin is at its highest, and then it decreases after you eat. When you have too much ghrelin, you are hungry more often and wind up eating more, which results in weight gain and difficulty with weight loss.

Stress seems to be a key factor in an increase in ghrelin. And this weight-gain combination of stress and increased ghrelin is often at its worst late in the day when overeating is especially prone to pack on pounds.

As with cortisol, controlling and managing stress is key for controlling ghrelin, as well as good sleeping habits. Medical professionals also recommend eating a diet with plenty of high-fiber, high-protein foods to help you feel fuller and for longer.

Addressing hormone imbalances for weight-loss success

At Quest Weight Loss, we emphasize overall health and general well being, which includes helping you achieve optimal hormonal levels along with weight loss. Our custom weight-loss plans focus first on safety, efficacy, and health benefits. We offer complete metabolic profiles and hormone testing in order to identify the hidden causes underneath your weight gain, making our approach far more effective and long-lasting than programs that focus solely on caloric intake.

Find out if a hormonal imbalance is at the heart of your weight issues. Contact us today for a free consultation to learn more about Quest Weight Loss!