Hormones are mysterious creatures. They ebb, they flow, they go up and down. When balanced, they make our bodies work like magic. When out of balance, they wreak havoc. Hormone imbalances can lead to chronic stress, irregular menstrual cycles in women, mood swings in men, and weight gain for both sexes. Let’s take a look at the ins and outs of how a hormone imbalance can lead to weight gain, and see what we can do to prevent this common health issue.
If you’ve noticed you’ve put on extra pounds without changing your diet or exercise routine, the culprit could be a hormone imbalance. But how does this happen?
Hormones tell our cells what to do
Our hormones, which reside within the endocrine system, are responsible for many inner workings of the body. Different hormones correspond with different cells. Together, they work to govern a myriad of bodily functions: regulate stress, balance metabolism, maintain healthy weight, regulate appetite and cravings, prevent depression, and much more.
Estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone
When it comes to hormone imbalance and weight regulation, even minute changes can significantly affect our metabolism. As we age, key hormone levels decrease, making weight gain more likely.
During perimenopause and menopause, women experience a loss of estrogen. This estrogen loss leads to weight gain because the body looks for estrogen in fat cells, causing the body to make more fat in order to make up for the estrogen loss. Progesterone also decreases as we age. This progesterone loss is responsible for bloating. With a progesterone deficit comes that puffy feeling that accompanies water retention. We also lose testosterone during menopause. Because testosterone helps us build muscle and burn calories, this hormone imbalance leads to muscle loss and lower metabolism.
With a decrease in estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone, comes an increase in cortisol. Cortisol is the stress hormone. The more cortisol we have, the more we crave sweet treats and simple carbohydrates.
An increase in cortisol also leads to more belly fat and loss of muscle tissue. To make matters worse, heightened cortisol increases depression and unstable moods.
As you can see, a hormone imbalance can wreak havoc on the body and mind, leaving us feeling blue, bloated, and bigger than we wish.
Hormone replacement therapy
Thankfully, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is an effective way to treat a hormone imbalance and restore the body’s capacity to regulate weight. Bioidentical hormones used in HRT have low rates of reported side effects and high rates of reported success. When used in tandem with a healthy diet and effective fitness routine, hormone replacement therapy can help you lose weight even through perimenopause and menopause.
Many women have found hormone-related weight gain relief via hormone replacement therapy, and you can too! At OB/GYN Associates of Alabama, we can help you understand menopause, hormone replacement therapy, and the range of treatment options available. Contact us to request an appointment today.