Insight on why it maybe hard to lose weight even with diet and exercise

The inability to lose weight while following a seemingly perfect nutrition, exercise and supplement program is very frustrating and unmotivating. This inability to lose weight can arise from a number of different causes, but two main causes contributing to this problem include:

• Medications – antidepressants, high blood pressure pills, corticosteroid medications, hormone replacement or birth control pills, cancer treatments and many other medications.
• Hormonal imbalance and medical conditions associated with hormonal imbalance – hypothyroidism, autoimmune disease, Cushing’s disease and other conditions.

Hormonal Balance
Fat loss is so dependant upon healthy hormonal balance, that unless we are well and in hormonal balance, it can be unattainable. Our hormones influence all of our cells — the brain, skin, hair, bones and more. They control growth, development, metabolism and reproduction. Hormones also influence where we store fat and our ability to lose it.

PMS, hypoglycemia, cravings, fatigue, mood changes or sleep disruption are subtle signs of hormonal imbalance. We should thank our body for these clues because they tell us we need to take necessary steps to get back in balance —through nutrition, exercise, supplements, lifestyle changes and even altering the way we think. Yet, since these symptoms are so common, they are often ignored or accepted as normal. It’s only after a more serious health concern arises are we forced to pay attention to what our body is telling us.

Many different types of hormones impact our wellness and body composition. Becoming familiar with these hormones and their associated symptoms of imbalance allows us to alter our habits sooner, achieve optimal health and maintain fat loss. Let’s discuss a few of the major players.

Insulin
We now know obesity is preceded by high insulin in the fasting state. Insulin instructs the body to store sugars as fat if they are not consumed as fuel. When insulin levels are too high, weight accumulates in the “love handles”. Cravings, chronic hunger, high blood pressure or high cholesterol can also indicate insulin imbalance. Abdominal fat related to insulin excess is not only unsightly; it also poses a serious long-term health for metabolic syndrome, diabetes and heart disease

Thyroid Hormone
Thyroid hormone regulates metabolism. If your metabolism slows down, weight gain may result — sometimes even with proper diet and exercise. It is important to note that not all individuals experience weight gain when an insufficiency of thyroid hormone exists. Symptoms can vary and may include:

• Cold intolerance, feeling cold
• Dry skin
• Lack of or diminished ability to sweat during exercise
• Hair loss
• Irregular menses or heavy menstrual bleeding
• Constipation
• Unexplained fatigue or lethargy, depression, poor concentration
• Unexplained weight gain or an inability to lose weight

This is a very common cause of weight gain and weight loss problems. Three tests must be completed by your doctor for thorough assessment of your thyroid function – not just the TSH. TSH, Free T3 and Free T4 should be measured in all cases of a suspected thyroid condition. TSH levels should be less than 2, while T3 and T4 levels are fine if they measure in the middle range.

 

 

 

 
 

Cortisol
Cortisol allows us to cope with long-term stress, whereas adrenalin is the hormone involved in the immediate response to stress. Chronically elevated levels of cortisol  destroy muscle fibers, suppress immunity, affect memory and concentration, weaken bone mineral density and contribute to cancer. Stress kills your “mojo” and if all this is not incentive enough to address your daily stressors, stress also causes increased abdominal fat and interferes with thyroid hormone

Estrogen and Testosterone
Pre-menopausal women suffering from PMS, uterine fibroids, fibrocystic breast, abnormal pap smears, ovarian cysts or stress may have abnormally high estrogen levels compared to progesterone, a condition called estrogen dominance. It is essential to address this abnormal level of estrogen early, otherwise menopause can be problematic and the risk of estrogen-related cancers (breast, uterine) is increased.

When estrogen levels are high during the pre-menopausal years, more body fat is common, particularly around the hips and thighs, but the right balance of progesterone relative to estrogen can prevent this pattern of weight gain. At menopause, many women accumulate weight around the waist rather than the hips. This “apple shape” over the “pear shape” is a result of hormonal changes at menopause, including a drop in estrogen and progesterone often coupled with an increase in cortisol and insulin.  Men tend to possess more estrogen as they age which can lead to an accumulation of abdominal fat and an increased risk of heart disease. Testosterone naturally lessens in both sexes with aging and stress. This contributes to muscle loss, decreased bone mass, increased body fat, decreased energy and lack of libido.

 

 

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Growth Hormone
Human growth hormone is released after strenuous exercise and during deep sleep following the release of melatonin. Growth hormone orchestrates the process of repair, rebuilds lean body mass and bone and influences body composition. Without enough sleep, the body will not repair as effectively and as a result, this leads to premature aging and weight gain. Not sleeping enough or in complete darkness will decrease our production of melatonin, therefore altering growth hormone release. Fortunately, growth hormone levels can be replenished by improving sleep habits, stress management and by taking the right supplements that contain amino acids known to stimulate GH production.

Serotonin
Our “happy hormone”, serotonin, controls appetite and cravings. If levels are low, cravings for carbohydrates become stronger, making it difficult to avoid unhealthy carbohydrate choices such as cookies, pastries or muffins. Simply taking chromium or supplements containing 5 HTP that increase serotonin production can prevent cravings and reduce weight gain.

By paying close attention to subtle signs, hormonal imbalances that may alter body composition can be recognized and treated. Once hormonal balances are identified, a harmonious blend of nutrition, sleep, supplements, exercise and, more importantly, a positive mental attitude can contribute to the perfect balance for weight loss and wellness.