Can Natural Medicine Help with Hormones and Weight Loss?
How Does Hormone Imbalance Cause Weight Gain?
When you try to lose weight most of us, start dieting and exercising, but many times nothing happens. The weight doesn’t budge. You wonder, “What am I doing wrong, I can’t lose weight no matter what I do?” It’s frustrating, I know.
Here’s the problem. Your approach is backfiring because you’re not aware that losing weight for many people is more than just diet and exercise. You need to have your hormones checked by a professional. But having the correct test and the specific ratios checked in crucial and a blood test will not do this accurately. A saliva test with a blood test is much more accurate. Not having hormones checked is a common mistake because there’s a huge connection between hormone imbalances and weight gain. Hormone imbalances are likely the reason why you can’t lose weight. By not paying attention to your hormones, you might actually be making the problem worse.
Which Hormones Cause Weight Gain?
If you’re struggling to lose weight, you and your functional medicine provider (natural doctor) can zero in on a number of hormones. Looking at what hormones are too high or too low compared to other hormones is going to control what you notice in your physical body. Where the weight gain is happening in your body will give you a clue as to what hormone or hormones are imbalanced.
How to Lose Belly Fat by Balancing Hormones
Insulin and cortisol are usual suspects, the hormones to blame for weight gain around your midsection and belly. Insulin resistance is very common in people who can’t lose weight around their midsection.
A lot of people don’t know they have insulin resistance because a typical blood test only looks at whether or not you have diabetes. Insulin resistance happens when your body starts to ignore insulin’s blood-sugar-lowering signals. Your body has to produce more and more insulin in order for it to get the message that it needs to lower blood sugar. A good history and looking at insulin levels can help zero in on this issue. Insulin could be driving your weight gain because it’s a fat-storing hormone.
Cortisol is another fat-storing hormone involved in weight gain. It is a stress hormone so you might notice that you gain weight in the middle when you are stressed on a regular basis. Also prescription cortizone (prednizone) will do this too. Unfortunately, doctors often don’t measure cortisol levels. On those rare occasions when cortisol is measured, it’s usually from one morning blood draw rather than measuring levels throughout the day. Measuring cortisol levels throughout the day (known as a 4-point salivary cortisol test) gives information about your circadian rhythm and how well your adrenals are functioning in the morning, afternoon, and night.
When it comes to cravings, insulin resistance and cortisol make sugar, bread or carbs and salt irresistible! Those are the hormones that make you overeat the wrong foods. Balancing these two hormones can go a long way in helping you get rid of belly fat.
Hormones and Midlife Weight Gain
Estrogen is the hormone typically responsible for weight gain in the hips, thighs, and breasts. As women start to go through perimenopause, their estrogen levels can become imbalanced in relation to other hormones. Even if estrogen levels are normal, progesterone levels could be low causing estrogen dominence. The result? The body goes into a fat-storing mode and women can’t lose weight no matter what. A similar issue happens in men too but for different reasons making them estrogen dominant and unable to keep the weight off.
Testing for estrogen by itself does not tell you everything so a complete salivary hormone test is recommended. The Natural Doctor will look at all your homones and look for a pattern of disfunction to help you in your quest tol lose weight. Remember even if you have “normal” levels of estrogen, if there is an imbalance between estrogen and other hormones, especially progesterone, you develop estrogen dominance. Having too much estrogen can lead to stubborn weight gain and storing fat, not to mention fatigue, headaches, poor sex drive, and breast tenderness.
How to Lose Weight All Over the Body
Weight gain all over the body is a red flag that your thyroid hormones are usually out of balance. There are 11 thyroid markers, but most of the time, when doctors test thyroid, they only measure thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). This one hormone test (blood test) is not enough to say for sure whether or not you have a slow metabolism from a thyroid issue. IN our office Dr. Kydonieus is usually able to find neurological reflexes that point to a weak thyroid a year or two BEFORE the blood tests show abnormal findings. Most medical doctors will tell patients, “Your thyroid labs are normal. I checked your thyroid and it’s fine,” when in fact the thyroid is actually off kilter.
Make sure your doctor is performing a more thorough thyroid panel if you want to really know how well your thyroid is. This blood panel should include; T4, T3, T3 uptake, and TSH, at the very least. This is the minimum amount of information you would need to find out if your thyroid hormone imbalances are causing weight gain. In my patients, I like to measure total T4, total T3, free T4, free T3, TSH, T3 uptake, and Hashimoto’s antibodies at a minimum on anyone that I suspect has metabolic issues.
Can You Exercise Your Way to Weight Loss?
Exercise for weight loss is important, but many people who are on a weight loss program are exercising the wrong way. A lot of people will try to over-exercise their way out of weight problems, which doesn’t work.
Exercise is a form of stress on the body and many times I see people doing too much exercise for what their body can handle. It’s actually making them worse or making them gain weight because it’s a stress and it’s causing more cortisol problems or it’s affecting their other hormones. That stress is what’s causing them to not be able to lose weight if their body can’t handle that stress.
The right amount of exercise (here is a great article from Dr. Caplin) that the body can tolerate is beneficial for weight loss. So you have to find what your body can tolerate. As a Natural Doctor who uses lab work and in office reflex testing, I help patients figure out how much exercise is too much.
I always look at the hormone levels first because that’s a common thing that gets overlooked in the standard medicine model. Hormone levels will help guide me how to customize my patient’s exercise routine. Many patients come to me and they’ve never had their insulin checked, they’ve never had anything but their TSH looked at, they have no idea what their adrenal glands are doing. Working on some of those basic hormone imbalances can clear up so many problems, including weight gain. When we start fixing those root causes, the extra weight comes off easily, without having to do anything extreme with exercise.
Best Diet for Weight Loss
There is no one-size-fits-all diet for weight loss. Hormone levels help guide what a person should eat and how often. Some people do really well with intermittent fasting while others should eat more often throughout the day. The patterns seen in your hormone panel especially with blood sugar, insulin, and cortisol will help determine what type of diet is best for you. For other people, focusing on stress management and sleep are more important than diet because if patients are having a lot of cortisol problems, it’s causing belly fat to build up.
Hormone Weight Loss Therapy
As a Natural Doctor, I can help you with your hormones and weight loss. That way you don’t have to try to figure out on your own which hormones are causing you to gain weight. We can run the right labs, figure out what hormones are imbalanced, and what would work best for your body. For example, we order the saliva 4-point cortisol panel instead of just a single morning blood cortisol, so that we can measure your cortisol levels throughout the day.
Sign up for a free 15-minute complimentary consultation with the Caplan Health Institute. If you become a patient, we’ll come up with an effective, personalized weight loss plan that takes into account your hormones. The end result? We’ll get you back to your sleek, slender, and head-turning self. Your energy, sex drive, and sleep will get better too!