Today's nutrition topic, due to popular demand: what hormones affect weight gain/weight loss and body composition.
For the purpose of length and efficiency, today I will be talking only about 5 of the main hormones that affect weight gain/weight loss and body composition.
THE 5 HORMONES:
Other hormones worthy of mention which I wont be talking about today are leptin, growth hormone and glucagon. Let me know in the comments section if you want me to continue this conversation and explain these as well in their relation to body composition.
To begin, hormones are chemical messengers that travel through your bloodstream to your tissues or organs. Even a slight hormonal imbalance may have a significant effect on your metabolism, which controls the rate your body transforms the food and drink we eat into usable energy.
Cortisol is a stress hormone that is produced by our adrenal glands (aka the fight or flight glands).
From a weight and body composition perspective, cortisol is a catabolic hormones (meaning to break down - as opposed to build up, which is what anabolic hormones do, such as testosterone).
Cortisol increases blood sugar when levels fall too low and/or during stressful situations so we have adequate sugar in our blood to use as energy in a stressful event.
Elevated cortisol levels also disrupt our body’s ability to covert our T4 thyroid hormone into the active T3 hormone, — and many of us know thyroid hormones are responsible for controlling our metabolic rate.
It is important to know that elevated cortisol and elevated stress can come in the form of dietary stress, under-eating, over exercising, emotional stress and environmental stress.
Which brings me into the next hormones - thyroid hormones!
2) THYROID HORMONES (specifically T4 AND T3)
When you don’t have enough of these important hormones, your metabolism slows down, resulting in weight gain and trouble losing weight.
Thyroid hormones are affected by nutrient deficiencies such as iodine, selenium and zinc, as well as elevated stress levels and adrenal burnout.
To support your thyroid, reduce stressors in your life and make sure you’re getting adequate nutrients needed to support proper thyroid function as mentioned.
Estrogen is an anabolic sex hormone that influences gene expression, cell growth and is responsible for the development and regulation of the female reproductive system and secondary female sexual characteristics.
Unfortunately, the more abdominal fat we have, the more estrogen we produce as fat cells produce estrogen, and then this becomes a viscous cycle as fat cells produce estrogen and estrogen influences fat retention.
Elevated estrogen levels can be due to elevated fat, as well as xenoestrogens in the environment in the form of pesticides, herbicides, BPA in plastics, hormones in meat, dioxins in dairy products, BC pill, and hormone disruptors in personal care products like paragons and phalates.
Elevated estrogen levels have been shown to stimulate estrogen dependant conditions like breast cancers, ovarian cancers and endometriosis.
Helpful tools to lower estrogen is to exercise to reduce fat mass, consume organic meat and avoid dairy, clean up your personal care products, and include tons of estrogen detoxifying ingredients like cruciferous vegetable such as kale, broccoli, brussels and cauliflower.
Testosterone is an anabolic, sex hormone and plays a role primarily in the development of male reproductive tissues as well as secondary sexual characteristics such as increased muscle mass and the growth of body hair.
Testosterone is also of course important for women looking to build lean muscle mass.
Unfortunately, elevated cortisol / stress levels cause testosterone to decrease which can often be due to overtraining, under-sleeping, poor nutrition and also an increase in age.
Additionally, something called the Aromatase enzyme converts testosterone to estrogen, further depleting free testosterone levels and increasing estrogen levels. In this case
Aromatase inhibitors stop the production of estrogen in postmenopausal women. Aromatase inhibitors work by blocking the enzyme aromatase, which turns the hormone androgen into small amounts of estrogen in the body.
Maca: Maca is a cruciferous plant that originates in Peru. Proponents say it has a host of benefits, including enhancing fertility and blocking estrogen in men. Although mama does contain many vitamins and nutrients, there’s little scientific evidence that it plays a role in regulating hormones.
Grape seed extract: This extract has been shown to act as an aromatase inhibitor or estrogen blocker, in postmenopausal women at high risk for breast cancer. Men may experience similar benefits when taking it as a supplement.
Insulin lowers the sugar in your blood and provides your cells with immediate energy while the remaining sugar is stored in the form of glycogen in our liver and muscles and excess energy is converted and stored as fat for later energy use. This also makes it an anabolic hormone, which means to build/grow.
Eating too much sugar or carbohydrates (especially in the absence of protein, fat and fiber) can increase your levels of insulin too high, for too long, which may lead to insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and perpetuates inflammatory conditions.
Manage your insulin levels by insuring you're not consuming more than you need per day. It is best to consume carbs around your workouts to help improve insulin sensitivity, and always try to pair your carb sources with fibre, fat, protein or all three to help blunt the impact of insulin and better manage blood sugar which will help with hunger and weight loss.
if you guys are looking for more specific information on how you can manipulate your hormones to achieve your ideal body composition, send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I would be happy to help!
You can also visit the SHOP section of my website to browse my self-guided ebook programs which help balance hormones, improve weight loss and aid in digestive healing!