Hormones play a key role in weight management. When they are out of balance, it can result in weight gain or make it difficult to lose weight. If you are trying to lose weight, certain hormones must be available in adequate amounts for that to occur. Read more to find out which hormones you need to help you manage your weight loss.
How do hormones affect weight loss?
Hormones are chemical messengers that are essential because they control many vital processes in your body. Hormones control how hungry you feel, how your body breaks down food, your sleep and wake cycles, and energy levels. Hormones can therefore influence your ability to lose body fat, maintain muscle, handle stress, and experience hunger.
If you have a hormonal imbalance, either too little or too much of a specific hormone, it can affect your body weight. For instance, if you have a thyroid dysfunction called hypothyroidism, you have an under-active thyroid gland that produces an inadequate amount of the thyroid hormones. Having a reduced production of thyroid hormones is a common cause of weight gain.
Gut hormones also have an extensive role in weight loss or weight gain. An imbalance in intestinal hormones can affect how your body metabolizes food. Gut hormones control insulin secretion and are essential for blood glucose and body weight.
Which hormones make you lose weight?
Some major hormones in the body are associated with weight gain or loss. If you are able to correct hormonal imbalances, you may see a significant reduction in your body weight.
Endocrinologists, physicians that specialize in metabolism and hormones, can help confirm the cause of your weight gain and determine if hormonal therapy is going to affect your weight loss. They can also help you work on a treatment plan, prescribe medications, and monitor your progress.
However, not all hormonal imbalances require hormone replacement. Some hormonal issues may fade away with lifestyle changes such as exercise, proper diet, sleep, and stress management. Specialized diets and supplements may address the symptoms of hormonal imbalances, but they often do not address the cause.
Here are some hormones that affect your weight and may help you lose weight if adequately controlled:
Thyroid hormones have a broad range of functions. These hormones dictate your body's metabolic rate, which is the rate at which your body burns calories. They have essential roles to play in weight gain and weight loss.
If you have hyperthyroidism, an over-active gland, your thyroid gland produces too much of the thyroid hormones. The excess hormones will increase your metabolic rate and can lead to weight loss.
If you have hypothyroidism, your thyroid gland does not produce enough of the thyroid hormones. This can lead to a decrease in metabolism and weight gain.
Hormone therapy: You'll need blood tests to measure the levels of thyroid hormones and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). Your doctor may recommend some medications to treat any thyroid imbalances. If you have hypothyroidism, hormone replacement may yield modest weight loss benefits and you may lose a few pounds.
Estrogen is one of the main sex hormones in women. Estrogen strongly influences body fat distribution and adipocyte (fat cell) differentiation. Estrogen can affect a female's shape and distributes more fat cells to the thighs and hips. When estrogen levels drop, women may gain more fat in the abdomen.
Hormone therapy: Hormonal therapy comes with its benefits and risks. For menopausal women younger than 60 years, the benefits of hormone therapy outweigh the risks. You will need blood tests to measure the level of estrogen. Your doctor will check your estrogen levels and may or may not advise hormone replacement therapy. Menopause hormonal therapy may be recommended at the lowest effective dose for the shortest duration possible.
Testosterone is the main sex hormone in men. It reduces body fat and helps with muscle formation. If your body's testosterone level drops, it may lead to an increase in body fat, especially abdominal fat.
Hormone therapy: You will need blood tests to measure your testosterone level. Your doctor will check your testosterone levels and tell you if it is high, low, or within the normal range. If your testosterone level is normal, you may not benefit from hormonal therapy. If your testosterone level is below normal, your doctor may advise you on the potential benefits of testosterone therapy.
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Will taking leptin help you lose weight?
Leptin is a hormone produced in fat cells that is directly involved in regulating body weight. It does this by signaling to the body it is time to shed fat. When you are gaining weight, excess fat cells will cause your leptin level to rise. Increased leptin levels reduce appetite and increase the metabolic rate. This can help you lose weight.
But can leptin supplements help you lose weight? In people that are overweight or obese, high levels of leptin do not necessarily suppress appetite or help them with weight loss. However, people with leptin deficiency, which is an extremely rare condition that begins in childhood with morbid obesity, may benefit from leptin replacement therapy.
Usually, with adequate sleep, a balanced training plan, and nutrition, you can effectively lose weight.
Check with your doctor
If you are experiencing unexplained weight gain, mood swings, fatigue, and poor-quality sleep, you should check with your doctor. Do not start yourself on any weight loss drug or hormone therapy until you have discussed it with your doctor.
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Arq Bras Endocrinol Metabol: "Congenital leptin deficiency: diagnosis and effects of leptin replacement therapy."
BioMed Research International: "Estrogen Deficiency and the Origin of Obesity during Menopause."
European Thyroid Journal: "Thyroid Function and Obesity."
Frontiers in Endocrinology: "The Role of Oxidative Stress and Hormones in Controlling Obesity."
Hormone Health Network: "Glands & Hormones A-Z."
National Academy of Sports Medicine: "HORMONE BALANCE FOR WEIGHT LOSS: FACT OR FICTION?"
National Center for Biotechnology Information: "Testosterone and weight loss: the evidence."
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