It’s not easy to lose weight — I’m sure many people would agree with this statement. You need to watch your diet and eat right, while also committing yourself to rigorous and intensive workouts every day. If you’re working full time and have a family to take care of — which the majority of us do — where can you even find the time and energy to keep to your weight loss goals?
For women, it’s an even greater challenge because they have another difficult factor to deal with — their hormones. Hormones control many critical functions and reactions in our bodies, such as metabolic rate, inflammation, and menopause, to name a few. This is why a disrupted or imbalance of hormones in our system can make it even more difficult to burn fat, and easier to store it instead. Additionally, other factors like stress, genetics, age, and poor lifestyle choices can also throw your hormones out of whack, not to mention the monthly menstrual cycle.
Here are some of the hormones that are likely to be responsible for your weight gain, or making it more difficult to lose weight, and what you can do to change that.
Your thyroid gland is located at the base of your neck, and it mainly produces three hormones — calcitonin, triiodothyronine (T3), and thyroxine (T4). These hormones are responsible for regulating your metabolic rate, heart rate, brain development, as well as your sleeping behaviour. When your thyroid gland does not produce enough of these hormones, it can lead to a condition known as hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism causes a number of symptoms, such as depression, fatigue, constipation, and weight gain, and it is caused by a few different reasons. Other forms of medical therapy like radiation therapy and the consumption of certain medications can affect the thyroid gland and affect the production of thyroid hormones.
To treat a thyroid imbalance, you should avoid eating raw vegetables, and only eat food that has been fully cooked. You can also try consuming iodized salt, as well as taking in more zinc from sources like oysters and pumpkin seeds. Fish oil and vitamin D supplements are also good ways to balance out your thyroid hormones.
Insulin is a hormone that is produced by your pancreas, which sits across the back of the abdomen and behind the stomach. Its main purpose is to transport the glucose from the food you eat into the cells of your body, where they are either used as energy or stored as fat. By doing this, insulin is able to prevent glucose from being absorbed too quickly into your bloodstream. When your body does not produce enough insulin, glucose is absorbed a lot quicker, which causes your blood sugar levels to sharply rise. This is dangerous as it could cause damage to your nerves, blood vessels, and internal organs, and your risk of developing diabetes goes up as well. This is further exacerbated when you consume processed foods and alcohol, which have high sugar levels and flood your system with glucose. This not only causes you to gain weight, but also increases your risk of developing diabetes — your body will produce more insulin to deal with the influx of sugar, and if this happens constantly, insulin becomes less effective because you will develop a resistance to it.
If you want to prevent insulin resistance and ensure your body is making full use of it, you will need to avoid sugary and processed foods — this includes fast food, carbonated drinks, and sweet treats. Instead, focus on a diet of leafy green vegetables and fresh fruits, and also include fish, olive oil, and nuts to boost the amount of healthy omega-3 fatty acids you consume. Also, exercising regularly will also help, and it only takes a minimum of 4 hours a week to be effective.
When you’re feeling stressed out, you will likely have an abundance of cortisol in your system. Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is secreted by your adrenal glands, which are located on top of each of your kidneys. When you feel stressed, anxious, nervous, angry, or even depressed, cortisol is produced by your body as a way to regulate and mobilize energy. It is able to decide what kind of energy — carbs, protein, or fat — is needed by the body to handle what you are feeling, and it is able to mobilize this energy by transporting it to your working muscles in order to accomplish the task that is causing you stress. If you’re constantly feeling stressed or anxious, you have an overabundance of cortisol in your system, which could make your body store more fat as a way to prepare for all situations — thus you will gain weight.
To reduce and keep cortisol levels in check, there are a few solutions you can try. For example, making a list of all the things you need to do can help you to sort through all your tasks and keep you organized, which could help you feel less stressed. Of course, the best way to deal with stress is to slow down. Take time off for yourself and do something that you enjoy, something that makes you happy.