You sketch out a weight loss plan for yourself or work with a dietitian/nutritionist to lose weight; you work vigorously with your goal in mind skipping all those fancy snacks and late-night party drinks; you sweat out vigorously at the gym or walk hard. But you don’t lose weight as expected! This kind of a scenario is very common among females. It is not only harsh on the individual, it is frustrating from the trainer’s point of view too! Some trainers might even believe that their clients are bluffing on their diet plan and not putting in enough effort as portrayed to the outside world.
While it hurts to believe that hormones can contribute towards health challenges, ample evidences point out so! This does not mean that certain clients with certain increasing/decreasing hormone content cannot lose weight. It only points out that these clients find it extremely difficult to lose weight, but the loss is finally worth the wait! In such cases, it is better that the woman involved meets her physician.
Female Sex Hormones
Estrogen & Progesterone
These are the primary female sex hormones that counteract and balance each other’s effects. Estrogen takes care of the first half of menstrual cycle, gives the woman her curvy hips and breasts, causes mood swings and regulates social behavior, appetite, sexual desire, sleep and digestion by regulating serotonin levels. Progesterone helps in overall well-being, calming and soothing you when needed, helping your thyroid glands to function efficiently, raises body temperature and is a natural diuretic. These two hormones are like a couple on the dancefloor who need to match their steps to synchronize their movements correctly. If either of the couple goes overboard and performs more than needed, the dance goes haphazard and likewise is the relationship between these two hormones. When one of the hormones is secreted more/less than what is essential, it causes an imbalance and leads to many problems.
Having too much estrogen in comparison to progesterone (estrogen dominance) can cause weight-loss resistance and makes the weight-loss process tiresome and frustrating with ample challenges. Estrogen dominance is not a standalone factor as it is not defined by a particular amount of estrogen in the body but only a comparative factor with respect to progesterone. A diet low in fiber, increased alcohol intake and chronic stress contribute towards this dominance which is visible with:
Recognizing Hormone Imbalance
We cannot correlate symptoms with hormone imbalance until we get some basic lab tests done. Although conventional physicians might recommend going for a blood test, there are plenty other options including saliva and dried urine testing. Also, it is necessary that the woman gets both, her estrogen and progesterone levels checked as any amounts of estrogen will not suffice when there is little or no progesterone to balance it out.
Other Hormones Contributing Towards Imbalance
Apart from the above two, thyroid hormones, cortisol, insulin, leptin and many other hormones can affect fat loss/gain. Thyroid hormone too plays a critical role in weight gain/loss depending on many factors. Read more on how thyroid hormone can increase/decrease weight of an individual by visiting the website www.firsteatright.com.
Leptin is another important hormone than affects fat metabolism as it is mainly secreted in adipocytes (fat cells) and is responsible for satiety. Increase in leptin levels decrease the satiety feeling in the body. Insulin works similar to leptin as increased insulin levels can lead to insensitivity to the same.
Cortisol, the stress hormone, is the major player in many of our systems nowadays due to never-ending stress increases. These stress hormones make us store fat, mostly in the belly. Increased cortisol levels can also lead to sugar addiction, depression and increased foods intake such as cookies and processed foods.
The Shocking Enemy
Exercise is the best practice for weight loss, but not for some women! High-intensity exercise can sometimes have a negative effect on weight loss due to the stress placed on the adrenal gland. When individuals become exhausted in an hour or two after exercise due to lack of energy stores, this can cause hormone imbalance as well.
Exercise which is needed for health and hormone balance can sometimes cause stress thereby increasing cortisol levels and inducing severe fatigue. People who experience this phenomenon feel sapped out of energy and tired instead of being energized after an exercise session.
People who want to overcome this hormonal imbalance cannot simply achieve it by juggling activities. Such individuals can:
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.