Hormones are powerful chemicals that influence body metabolism and hence body weight. You might be shocked to hear that your hormones can make you fat. Estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, insulin are some of the main hormones which play an important role in maintaining your weight. Imbalance of hormones often results in accumulation of fat and excess weight. Let us see how hormones and weight loss are interrelated.
How Hormones Influence Weight
Hormones activate bodily systems, groom the body for puberty, parenthood and menopause, control the reproductive cycle and regulate metabolism. They can stimulate or inhibit the growth of an individual. Hormonal levels change every day, changing your mood, affecting the metabolism and influencing your energy levels. It should be kept in mind that changes in hormonal levels are largely dependent on your lifestyle. It has been proved by scientists that an increase or a decrease in a specific hormone is the consequence of the body adapting to the level of activity you choose to do.
If you opt for a more active lifestyle, it creates a need for the body to adapt to the increased stress. Body cells receive the message to speed up the chemical reactions. This leads to a change in the body's hormones. Exercise triggers release of hormones and boosts the metabolism. Regular exercise helps maintain hormonal balance. It leads to breakdown of muscles and weight loss. A steady flow of hormones is essential for losing or maintaining weight. Higher the rate of metabolism, the faster you lose weight. By increasing the physical activity and intensity of the exercise, you can achieve optimal hormone levels.
Testosterone in Men
Along with aging, men become less active. A gradual decline in the blood testosterone levels can be noticed in elderly men. One of the main functions of testosterone is to boost body metabolism and help lower fat levels. So low blood testosterone levels may lead to fat gain in males. Thus, a change in lifestyle can lead to weight gain. Dysfunction of glands leading to scarcity of hormones (for example, thyroid hormones) can also result in weight gain.
The main function of the growth hormone is to stimulate protein synthesis (muscle tone/development). Growth hormones are responsible for the strength of your bones, tendons, ligaments and cartilage. Growth hormones play an important role in fat loss during exercise. These hormones decrease the use of glucose and increase the use of fat as a fuel during exercise. This results in reduction of body fat. This helps maintain normal blood glucose levels which in turn allow you to exercise for a longer period. Increasing the period of aerobic exercise or performing more intense exercises leads to release of more growth hormone from the pituitary gland.
Injecting yourself with human pregnancy hormone is certainly not a good idea to lose weight fast. Some fad diets involve extreme calorie restrictions and taking injections of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) hormone. Studies have proved that this was a fraud.
High levels of estrogen are present in female blood. It enhances the process of breakdown of fats from the body fat stores. Thus, it promotes the use of fat as a fuel. It helps increase the basal metabolic rate (metabolism), and elevates your mood. It is also responsible for increased libido. Ovaries begin to produce less estrogen as a woman approaches menopause. Wrong estrogen:progesterone ratio triggers cravings. Women often experience increased appetite before menstruation. Imbalance of estrogen and progesterone and adverse effects of stress hormones during perimenopause can result in weight gain. It has been observed that the amount of estrogen released by the ovaries increases with exercise. Blood estrogen levels often remain elevated for one to four hours after exercise. This explains significance of regular exercise.
Apart from the aforementioned hormones, there exist several other hormones which determine how much and how fast you would lose or gain weight. Hormones released by pancreas, thyroid, stomach and brain; for example, insulin, triiodothyronine, thyroxine, histamine and endorphins promote weight loss. Thyroid hormones determine your rate of metabolism. So, deficiency of these hormones (hypothyroidism) often leads to weight gain. Similarly, hyperthyroidism results in weight loss. In women, testosterone levels determine weight gain/loss. Hormones like leptin, ghrelin, amylin and cholecystokinin (CCK) regulate digestion and satiety. Ghrelin is released by the endocrine cells present in the lining of the stomach. It stimulates your appetite. After consumption of sufficient food, the hormone leptin, released by the fat cells suppresses your appetite as it conveys the message to the hypothalamus that the body no longer requires food. Adiponectin, released by fat cells and peptide YY (PYY) also play an important role in digestion and appetite control. The hormone melatonin, governs the circadian rhythm. Lack of sufficient sleep adversely affects the production of leptin, ghrelin and human growth hormone (hGH).
A number of hormones control your appetite and weight. Imbalance of these hormones results in eating disorders and obesity. Hormones released by adrenal glands like adrenaline and noradrenaline (epinephrine and norepinephrine) determine your mental strength, mood and attitude. It has been observed that depression and weight gain often go hand in hand.
The amount of hormones released from the glands in the human body is proportional to the intensity and duration of exercise. Your hormones can help you achieve the goal of weight loss; but for this, you need to encourage the glands to produce more 'metabolism boosting hormones'. Lack of essential nutrients in diet can result in hormone imbalance. Leading an active and healthy lifestyle and following a healthy diet can help maintain a steady flow of hormones.