From my teenage years to until a few months a go; I wondered why I kept gaining weight despite following the ‘Diet Rules’.
I exercised, controlled my food portions, eliminated some food groups, hopped from one diet to another…..you name it! Yes I did it all!!
But All in Vain. Something was affecting my ability to lose weight and keeping it off. I was exhausted. What was it?
I was almost giving up. The only thing that kept me sane and reminded me not to overindulge or not to give up was ‘My 600lb Life’ on TLC. I
Then I when I started my weight-loss journey with Jane Mukami @FitKenyanGirl, she talked about Hormones and how they affect our ability to lose weight. Not only that but also the Body Type( Genetic Makeup) we have( I promise I will talk about this in the next post, its super interesting).
Voila! There was a Piece to my Puzzle or rather Pieces 🤨.
I switched to Research Mode. I love reading more about a topic or issue in order to gain a deeper level of understanding. This way I am able to apply the recommendations the way I deem fit. So I came across articles on Hormones and how they affect our bodies ability to gain or lose weight.
Without a lot of the scientific jargon, I have summarized the Top 5 Hormones that affect Weight Loss.
Glucose Regulator Hormone/Fat Storing Hormone
Insulin – Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas(into the bloodstream) whose main role is to regulate glucose (sugar) levels and promote fat storage especially around the belly. I
Insulin controls the amount of glucose used by your muscles, stored in your liver or turned into fat to be stored in your cells.
How Insulin Turns on Your Fat switch!
After you eat,digest, and absorb carbohydrate foods, your blood glucose(blood sugar) levels normally rises. The Pancreas responds by releasing insulin, which then transports glucose into your body cells where it can be used as energy.
If you have more glucose in your body than your cells need, insulin takes extra blood glucose and transports it into fat storage.
Foods that promote the secretion of insulin include white refined flours and sugars.
Fat Burning Hormone
Glucagon – Glucagon and insulin are “enemies” I and have opposing effects. In other words, when one is up, the other one is down.
Glucagon is a fat burning hormone and it helps control blood sugar between meals. It is stimulated by dietary protein and intense exercise. I
Glucagon works along with Insulin to control blood sugar levels and keep them within set levels. Its released to stop blood sugar levels from drooping too low (hypoglycemia) while Insulin is released to stop blood sugar levels rising too high ( hyperglycemia).
Excess protein can blunt this hormone and increase insulin.
Thyroid Hormones – These hormones control the speed of your metabolism by increasing the size and number of cellular energy factories. I
The faster the the metabolism the thinner the individual. But cutting calories or skipping meals inhibits these hormones.
Cortisol – Cortisol is your stress hormone. Unfortunately, cortisol and insulin are BFF (Best Friends Forever). If cortisol is elevated due too mild to moderate periods of stress, insulin is typically raised which can make weight loss difficult.
Its produced by the Adrenal glands. Stress of any kind activates this hormone. It is anti-inflammatory and releases sugar from the liver and muscles into the blood as Instant Fuel. Insulin then deals with the sugar resulting into weight gain especially around the midsection.
Hunger hormones control how hungry or full you feel.
Lets look at 2 of them:
Leptin & Ghrelin
Ghrelin is the hunger hormone that will entice a person to eat. It is produced and released mainly by the stomach with small amounts also released by the small intestine, pancreas and brain.
Ghrelin levels are primarily regulated by food intake. Its levels in the blood rise just before eating and when fasting, with the timing of these rises being affected by our normal meal routine. I
Leptin is a hormone that inhibits hunger. It is secreted from Fat cells that help to regulate body weight.
It does not affect food intake from meal to meal but, instead,acts to alter food intake and control energy usage over the long term. Because it’s produced by Fat Cells, the amount of leptin released is directly related to the amount of Body Fat;so the more fat an individual has, the more leptin they have in their blood. Its levels increase if an individual increases their fat mass over a period and vice versa.
When we lose weight, its levels fall which in turn stimulates huge appetite and increase food intake. I
It helps us maintain our normal weight and also makes it hard to lose extra kilos!!
Testosterone and Estrogen
Testosterone is a ‘masculine hormone’ I(although also produced by women) that contributes to muscle growth and supports a healthy metabolism. I
In general, low testosterone can lead to issues like Weight Gain, muscle loss, fatigue, and mood-related problems, not to mention low libido and erectile dysfunction. I
Being overweight or obese can cause alterations in testosterone, fertility, and sperm count in men.
But achieving a healthy weight and eating a nutritious diet can help create a more fertile environment for reproduction.
Estrogen on the other hand also helps to regulate metabolism and body weight.
Menopause causes this hormone to decrease in women’s bodies. Lower levels of estrogen may lead to weight gain.
All in All
Some people gain weight more quickly than others because people have different baseline levels of hormones especially insulin because of individual genetic makeup.
All hormones are essential for our body to function. For optimal functioning each all hormones must carry the correct signals to receptors in our bodies.
Too much or too little can alter how our body functions in its Fat-Burning or Fat-Storing modes and can lead to conditions like Hyperinsulinemia ( Insulin Resistance), Hypothyroidism, Hyperthyroidism, Congenital leptin deficiency etc.
The Good news is Not all is Lost, One can still get their body back to functioning the way its supposed to.
Never Give Up!