Hormones control every system in the body. Therefore, it stands to reason that they would have a strong influence on weight problems. Along these lines, I will discuss a number of hormones with regard to how they influence weight.
This topic is important, because if the underlying cause of why the body is producing fat is not dealt with then it will always be a problem. Those people who diet and exercise and still fail to lose weight can be well-assured that they are dealing with a hormone issue. Those people who are successful in losing weight and then experience a return of everything they lost plus even more, are also dealing with a hormonal cause.
So which hormones are a concern? I am only going to list the ones that have the most influence on creating fat, and leave the more esoteric ones for a future discussion. The hormone that I feel might be the number one culprit for creating fat I will leave for last. And surprisingly, I have never read anything in the medical literature that mentions this hormone with regard to the causation of fat.
The initial hormones that I shall mention are as follows: thyroid, estrogen, insulin, and cortisol. Afterwards, I will discuss the hormone that I feel is the main contributor to fat formation.
The thyroid controls metabolism in every cell of the body. It is easy to appreciate that a low-functioning thyroid can have a major influence on weight. Unfortunately, we are dealing with a medical system that has little interest in people being healthy. Most doctors have never been trained as to the causation of illness, and especially have almost no knowledge of hormones that control all systems. Instead of sitting down with a patient and talking with them to assess the status of how their hormones are functioning, they rely solely at looking at blood test results. This might work if they knew exactly which tests to order, and just as importantly, how to interpret the results. In this regard, it is important to understand that you can never go wrong treating a patient, but you can go wrong depending on a lab test to determine how you treat a patient. For example, if a person has a low body temperature (97 or less) in the morning, dry skin with cracked heels, poor nails, sluggishness, a weight problem, an elevated cholesterol, etc., you do not need a blood test to determine if they are low in thyroid. The benefit of a thyroid test in this situation is to give you a good idea of which type of thyroid to replace (T4, or T3, or both) and how much. However, many, if not most, doctors primarily gauge thyroid function by looking at the TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) level. They will often wait until it becomes abnormal before they will decide to treat. What they fail to realize is that any time the pituitary is putting out TSH it is saying the body needs thyroid. On the other hand, if the level is low, doctors automatically assume that there is no need for thyroid replacement, even if the free T4 level and free T3 level is low. Most doctors are unaware that there is a condition called secondary hypothyroidism that is caused by insufficient TSH production. A low thyroid puts on fat all over the body.
A few words about estrogen, my least favorite hormone. Estrogen is a lipogenic (fat-creating) hormone. It causes PCOS, fibroids, endometriosis, gall bladder disease, asthma, and six different cancers in women. Progesterone cream helps to block estrogen, and can relieve cramps, PMS, breast tenderness, and can eliminate migraine headaches caused by estrogen in about 3-4 minutes. However, if excess estrogen is a problem, supplements such as I-3-C (indole-3-carbinol) or DIM (diindole mutase) can be used to lower estradiol levels. Most commonly estrogen puts on fat and cellulite around the hips, thighs, and buttocks.
Insulin is another hormone that has the tendency to create fat. The body primarily utilizes insulin to put sugar into cells where it is used to provide energy. However, if more sugar is present than the body needs for energy, insulin puts this extra sugar into fat cells where it is converted into fat for storage. Then the insulin sits outside the fat cells to prevent its release since it is a fat-storing hormone. Insulin is not a happy hormone. Not only does it create fat, but it also contributes to the cause of type II diabetes and its complications, and possibly the number one cause of hypertension. It causes hypoglycemia (low blood sugars), which is why people get sleepy between 3-4 pm when insulin levels peak, and why some people get sleepy after eating, and why some people get sleepy while driving. Progesterone helps to block insulin, prevents hypoglycemia, and helps to control weight and blood pressure, especially when it is used before meals and at bedtime. Insulin is the only hormone that puts on fat around the middle.
Many people are aware that cortisol is another hormone that can cause weight issues. It is considered an anti-stress hormone, in other words it is released from the adrenal glands when the body is under stress. The reason that it causes weight issues is that it responds to stress by raising sugar levels through a process called glycogenolysis. The sugar than stimulates the release of insulin which we know is going to contribute to fat formation. Just like insulin, cortisol is not a happy hormone. Not only does it contribute to weight gain, but it can cause osteoporosis, brain damage, thyroid dysfunction, cataracts, and speed up hardening of the arteries. People who have been diagnosed with a condition called “adrenal fatigue” should be aware that this condition does not exist and should avoid being placed on cortisol. For more information about this, read my blog called “Adrenal Fatigue – Or Is It?”. Or read my book called “Adrenaline Dominance”. Cortisol will lead to fat around the middle by stimulating insulin production.
We are now at the point where I will discuss what I feel is the main hormone that creates fat. I should also mention that high levels of this hormone can also aid in the burning of fat. The hormone that I am referring to is adrenaline, the “fight-or-flight” hormone. Years ago, the only time the body released excess adrenaline was in times of danger. As soon as the danger passed, usually in a few minutes, the levels went down. Nowadays, people are often releasing adrenaline all day and all night, but they are not in danger. Instead, the body is releasing adrenaline primarily to raise sugar levels for the brain – the part of the body that utilizes the most sugar. When sugar is used up in the brain, the brain falls asleep (hypoglycemia). This, of course, can be a concern if it happens when someone is driving. From a survival standpoint, the body always wants to insure that the brain has enough fuel. If someone is relying on adrenaline to provide the fuel the brain requires, they must understand that they have no control over the amount of sugar the body will produce via a process called gluconeogenesis. This is a process whereby protein is converted into sugar. Do not underestimate the amount of sugar that can be produced by this process. When people are lying in bed at night tossing or turning, or grinding their teeth, or getting up at 2:30 am to urinate, or have RLS – they are experiencing symptoms of excess adrenaline, which is being released to increase sugar levels. If the body does not burn up this sugar, all the extra sugar will be stored in their fat cells as fat. In other words, they are gaining weight while they are sleeping. It does not matter if people eat foods that are high in sugar, or if the body creates sugar via adrenaline, either way insulin will be produced and will put all the extra sugar into the fat cells. People under stress during the day, or those with anger issues, or tap their knees, or get irritable or shaky when avoiding meals, or have an urge to urinate, or feel anxiety, or have trouble focusing, or have symptoms of IBS or fibromyalgia, are all feeling the effects of adrenaline that is continuously raising sugar levels. It should also be mentioned that adrenaline is the main stimulant to the release of cortisol, exacerbating the weight gain caused by adrenaline. At the same time, the body recognizes that excess adrenaline will create a situation where the person will not tolerate normal levels of thyroid since they are both stimulants. This is why cortisol prevents the conversion of T4 into T3 which is the active thyroid hormone. It also causes T3 to convert to reverse T3, an inactive hormone. This effect on the thyroid also contributes to weight gain and is caused by the release of adrenaline. For information on how to control adrenaline naturally, I would strongly recommend reading my book “Adrenaline Dominance”. It is available on Amazon or from my website: http://www.plattwellness.com.
I have mentioned the importance of using progesterone to help control weight. It does this by blocking insulin and adrenaline. However, in order to block adrenaline, a 5% (50 mg per pump) strength is required. For those interested, I have had a maximal strength progesterone cream formulated that is available on my website called PlattPro 5%. It is also available in health food stores under the name ProMax 5%.