You’ve tried diet and exercise and still can’t manage to shed those unwanted extra pounds. Why do some of us store extra fat and others don’t? What determines what happens to the food you eat, and whether what you eat goes to your waist or is burned off as fuel? It’s your hormones! Hormones control how you metabolize your food.
What you eat, in addition to lifestyle including activity and stress, directs your hormones.
These factors control how your hormones direct all the metabolic steps involved in storing and burning energy. Your hormones send messages to your brain to signal when to eat and to stop when you are full. They direct your body to either store or burn fat for energy.
Food is powerful medicine
The type of food and quantity determine how your hormones work. Food is a powerful medicine; it controls your hormones, which control your metabolism.
So it’s no wonder that if your hormones are not functioning properly and are not balanced it will be nearly impossible to lose weight. Your body will accumulate excess fat, and you will be at an increased risk for developing chronic diseases.
It is essential to balance your hormones if you want to lose weight and reduce your risk of developing chronic diseases, including heart disease, hypertension, stroke, diabetes, PCOS, inflammatory diseases and possibly even cancer.
Food, insulin and weight loss are connected
There are many hormones involved in regulating your metabolism. The most important one is insulin. Insulin is the fat storing hormone; it is secreted by the pancreas in response to elevated blood sugar.
When we eat simple carbohydrates like bagels, breads, cookies and crackers, the body rapidly breaks these foods down to glucose. In response, insulin rises very high to try and get the glucose inside the cells to be used for energy. When insulin level remains high, excess calories are stored as fat, and fat cells are blocked from using the fat stored for energy. Again, when we eat simple carbohydrates like sugar and white flour our insulin goes up quickly and our bodies go into fat storage mode.
Fat cells make a hormone called resistin. Resistin causes insulin resistance. This is where the body does not listen to insulin. This causes blood sugar to stay high, causing the body to make more insulin and ultimately store more fat. More fat more resistin; it becomes a vicious cycle and harder and harder to lose weight.
Insulin levels can impact other weight-loss hormones
Glucagon is another important hormone that senses low blood sugar. It releases stored sugar from the liver and from fatty acids from fat stores. High insulin levels inhibit glucagon and this too inhibits the body from using stored fat for energy, and the vicious cycle continues.
Leptin is the hormone that tells your body “I’m full,” an essential hormone to control appetite. When we gain excess weight, we can become leptin resistant, meaning we have leptin but our brains won’t listen to it. The brain never hears “I’m full.”
Cortisol and weight loss
You can see how the foods we eat disrupt the balance of our hormones. Lets see how cortisol our main stress hormone, which is necessary for our survival contributes to weight gain.
Prolonged elevation of cortisol brought on by chronic stress, inadequate amount of sleep and excessive physical activity, causes increased appetite, increased blood sugar, increased insulin, and yes, you guessed it, increased fat storage. It also contributes to insulin resistance.
Adiponectin, also secreted by fats cells, helps cells become more sensitive to insulin. Obese patients have low levels of adiponectin which also works against trying to lose weight.
Ghrelin, another important hormone, stimulates your appetite; when you’re hungry ghrelin levels increase. Ghrelin increases when we are stressed or sleep deprived, which can cause us to overeat.
How appetite-regulating hormones work
There are several other hormones which regulate our appetite and metabolism. These include, Neuropeptide Y, which makes you hungry and increases your appetite especially for carbohydrates; it is increased in chronic stress, low protein intake and high carbohydrate diets.
Peptide Y makes you stop eating; protein stimulates a lot of PYY, but carbohydrates stimulate it very little. This is why you stay full longer after eating protein and are hungry shortly after eating simple carbs.
Glucagon like peptide (GPL 1) hormone works like leptin, it is released from the small intestine and sends a message to the brain to stop eating. Lower glycemic meals raise (GPL1) levels higher than meals that are mainly simple carbohydrates.
The hormone cholecystokinin also tells you that you are full. It increases much higher in response to a protein and fat meal than a simple carbohydrate meal like cereal. This is why we can eat a large volume of cereal, bread or pasta compared to meal of protein and complex carbs (vegetables).
The importance of hormone balance for weight loss
You can see that it is absolutely necessary to balance these hormones in order to get to your body’s correct weight. Eating the right foods can help accomplish this as well as making lifestyle changes that include exercise and stress management. In addition to hormones, our neuro-transmitters, which are the brain’s messenger system, can get off balance as well. This can lead to cravings and self-medicating with food.
In order to balance your hormones and neurotransmitters it’s important to get tested. This allows your doctor to identify the right treatment to get your body back on track.
Dr. Betty Keller, Medical Director of Optimal Wellness in Ridgewood New Jersey, specializes in balancing hormones and neuro-transmitters. She can help you get to your correct weight and reduce your risk of developing chronic disease. Optimal Wellness is located in Ridgewood, NJ. Call today to schedule your consultation at (201) 485–7930.