Introduction to Hormones & Weight Control

How large of a role do hormones play in terms of us gaining weight? Scientists have discovered that hormones may be the secret to shedding those extra pounds, which has nothing to do with the latest cleanse or exercise class at your gym.

Hormones essentially rule over our entire physical body. They are in charge of our sex lives, our stress lives, and our immune responses. In fact, some 200 hormones circulate in our bloodstream at any given time and can signal different things to different parts of the body.

What are the types of hormones?

Thyroid

Perhaps the most influential, the thyroid hormone regulates our metabolism and insulin, which finds sugar in the bloodstream.

Cortisol

When you’re stressed, cortisol becomes your best friend. This hormone is behind our natural stress response and increases glucose in the blood so we have the energy to handle less-than-desirable situations. Too much cortisol, however, can lead to overeating and is often linked to belly fat.

Leptin and Ghrelin

Leptin is our dietary friend as it’s the hormone that signals us to stop eating if we're full. Ghrelin, on the other hand, is the hormone that keeps us sneaking back to the fridge well after midnight.

Estrogen and Progesterone

Estrogen hormones are responsible for your breast development as well as your menstrual cycle while progesterone is the hormone that prepares the female body for pregnancy. After you ovulate, your progesterone levels increase, which explains why you may have a tendency to eat more. Experts say that estrogen levels drop the week before your menstrual period, leaving you ravenous for comfort food.

What can one do to regulate hormonal cycles?

Eat as many whole foods, exercise regularly, check your stress levels, and get plenty of sleep. Research shows that the more you exercise, the better you sleep, which can make you less hungry. If you keep at this, the better your mood and stress levels may be, so you're less likely to receive those neurochemical cues that often lead you to overeat and consequently gain weight.

Sources cited:

WebMD - Progesterone
WebMD - Estrogen


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