How Are Hormones Responsible For Weight Gain In Women?

Ideal body weight is desirable by everyone and what is more, is to have the ability to maintain that. After maintaining an active routine that includes a healthy diet and workout sessions there can be a time when the body may still resist weight loss and may eventually gain weight as well, the reason to which is fluctuation in hormones during various life stages. Moderate rise and fall in hormonal levels are considerably healthy however hormonal imbalance can be due to many reasons such as- when a girl reaches the age of maturity, certain medical conditions, pregnancy, or menopause which causes weight gain. Various hormones play a crucial role in determining one’s weight (1).

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Which Hormones Are Responsible And How They Cause Weight Gain

A chemical substance that controls and regulates the activities of some certain cells and organs can be defined as hormones. Below are few hormones listed which needs to be regulated to ensure the proper functioning of the body-

Hormones to check to achieve ideal weight:

1. Estrogen

Estrogen aids in sexual as well as reproductive growth of a female. There exist four types of estrogen that perform different functions at different times.

  • Estrone (E1) – It is a type of weak estrogen i.e. it is convertible to other types of estrogen as and when needed. It is present in the body after menopause.
  • Estradiol (E2) – It is an active type of estrogen. It helps in regulating the menstrual cycle, weight and metabolism. Excess of it can cause breakouts, less sex drive.
  • Estriol (E3) – It is a type of weak estrogen. It helps in the growth of uterus during the time of pregnancy. Estriol increases at the time of a child’s birth.
  • Estetrol (E4) – It is a type of weak estrogen. It is produced only during pregnancy from the liver of the fetus.

Decline in the level of estrogen can cause weight gain during menopause i.e. at the time when the menstrual cycle ends in a woman’s life. The type of estrogen that declines is Estradiol, due to which rate of metabolism reduces which leads to weight gain at a certain area that is near the abdomen.

A rise in the level of estrogen can cause weight gain as a high level of estrogen can irritate the cells and develop insulin resistivity and increases the blood sugar level which leads to weight gain.

2. Thyroid

The thyroid gland is responsible to make and store hormones that regulate the heart rate, sleep and metabolism rate. It produces three hormones:

  • Triiodothyronine (T3) It is an active type of thyroid hormone. It is responsible for metabolic rate, heart rate, brain function, digestive functions.
  • Thyroxine (T4) It is an inactive type of thyroid hormone. It is responsible for muscle function, heart function, digestion, maintenance of bones.
  • Calcitonin- It is used to regulate calcium as well as phosphate levels in the blood.

When the thyroid gland fails to produce enough thyroid hormones it can lead to iodine deficiency which can affect the immune system as in such condition the immune system attacks our own body which leads to hyperthyroidism, a situation which slows down the heart rate as well as the metabolism rate which leads to weight gain (2).

3. Leptin

Controls the amount of energy the body uses as well as the amount of food to consume (3). Since the hormone generates from the fat cells its amount is directly related to a person’s body fat.

People with obesity have a high level of leptin as they tend to overeat due to which the sugar level increases which in turn converts into fat and leads to weight gain. This happens because the conversion into fat can make the body insensitive and lead the brain to misinterpret the signals.

A rare condition of leptin deficiency tricks the body and the body feels the need to have some fat due to which the body continues to consume food beyond the point of satiety.

4. Insulin

Controls the metabolism of fats, proteins and carbohydrates and helps to carry glucose into the body. Glucose is made when carbohydrates break down to produce sugar. It is the main source of energy and insulin allows the cells to use this energy to function properly.

Overconsumption of processed food, sweets, unhealthy snacks, alcohol, or intake of extra calories leads to overproduction of sugar or glucose levels due to which the body absorbs too much glucose and is unable to produce sufficient energy hence the leftover glucose then converts to fat which then leads to weight gain.

5. Progesterone

It plays an important role, at the time of pregnancy when the embryo develops as well as in regulating the menstrual cycle. It should be in balance with estrogen to ensure the smooth functioning of the body.

Constant stress, menopause, intake of antibiotics, intake of contraceptives can eventually decrease the level of progesterone. Especially during menopause when the hormone level drops it can lead to weight gain as well as depression.

6. Testosterone

Even though it is associated as a male hormone, it is essential for a woman’s body as well. It is produced in a smaller amount as compared to that in men. It helps to burn fat, provides strength to muscles and bones and to maintain sex drive.

Factors such as feeling fatigue, stress, less focus, weak bones can be experienced due to low level of testosterone due to which fat becomes stubborn and difficult to get rid of and also leads to weight gain.

How To Prevent Hormonal Weight Gain

Hormonal weight gain can be stressful as it becomes difficult to lose weight with the interference of hormones as the fat becomes stubborn however, a healthy change in lifestyle can be helpful to put an end to such weight gain. Below are listed some prevention which can avert further weight gain and can also help with the current situation:

  • Steer clear of sugar and refined carbs – Fructose, a type of sugar that is available in processed foods and fruits can disturb the level of leptin in the body due to which we may overeat.
  • Increase the intake of protein – Adequate protein helps to keep hunger at bay and increases the metabolism as well as the fat-burning rate. It is recommended to include protein-rich foods at every meal.
  • Engage in more physical activities – Including activities that require physical work in daily life can help to maintain hormones as well as metabolism. It will also help to balance work time there in improving the quality of life.
  • Keep stress under control – It is essential to manage stress as it can disturb the whole body which can lead to excess calorie intake. Practices like yoga, meditation, walk, or massage to be done daily to combat stress and balance the body.
  • Reduce or put an end to the consumption of alcohol – Intake of alcohol affects the functioning of the kidney and the liver which can hinder the detoxification process of the body and also disturbs the hormones.
  • Consume omega 3 fatty acids – Its sources are chia seeds, flaxseeds, seafood. It is helpful to manage stress as well as balance the hormones if taken for a long period.

Conclusion

Maintaining good health is a significant requirement in today’s world to ensure a long and happy life. Rightly said that good health and good sense are two of life’s greatest blessings but sometimes it can be difficult to achieve the desired health due to some hormonal changes over various stages in life, but this does not indicate any sign to stop working for your well-being. Nonetheless, it means to try harder to cope with the changes by encouraging a healthier routine which can be helpful to stabilize the hormonal changes and will aid to achieve the desired health goal. Hence it is advisable to go for a check-up to understand the reason behind weight gain and to follow the guidelines given by the doctor along with maintaining a trouble-free routine and including some activities which can be helpful to keep oneself physically active as well as mentally calm to ensure fitness of the body as well as the mind and to ensure a faster rate of weight loss and better health for a long and happy life with our loved ones.

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