Role of Hormones in Weight Loss Management
Having a healthy and Fit life is always the need of the hour amongst us Humans, not only it affects us on the outside but also on the inside i.e. being obese does not only downgrade our confidence about how we present ourselves to the society but also makes us prone towards various harmful diseases which is very well familiar among the people. The moment we step on the weighing machine and notice our weight on the higher side we immediately turn towards the decision to change our eating habits on a healthier side and start exercising which may help in weight management in case it is reversible. However, there is a catch here! There is more to our weight management than just the eating habit and exercising. As the title of this blog suggests there are various types of hormones that play a vital role in our weight management, which also controls what type of food we tend to enjoy, eating habits, regularity of food intake, laziness etc
Let’s list down the hormones which have been identified in affecting the weight management and how they can be controlled:
Insulin plays a vital role in maintaining optimal blood sugar (glucose) levels in the body and is the key for recovering from exercise and muscle building. During high carbohydrate intake insulin runs in the body largely and it can inhibit the breakdown and burning of stored fat. On eating more carbohydrates more insulin will be released in the body resulting in lesser burning and breakdown of stored fat, ultimately causing weight gain.
In order to optimize Insulin level for fat loss:
- Plan to get carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables, and limit grains
- Consume seasonal fruits and vegetables as well as green leafy vegetables
- Maintain good levels of Omega-3 Fatty Acid by consuming flaxseeds, fish, nuts, olive oil
- Drink 3 to 5 liters of water every day
- Work out regularly
- Avoid alcohol, late-night snacking, aerated and artificially sweetened drinks
- Limit consumption of grains
- Limit starchy food to smaller portions directly after exercise
Glucagon is a hormone that works directly opposite to insulin. Glucagon is responsible for breaking down stored carbohydrates and fats and releasing energy in the body.
In order to maximize Glucagon level for fat loss:
- Eat protein-rich meals with low-carbohydrate meal is the best way to maximize glucagon release
Leptin, released from fat cells, is an adipokine hormone that regulates energy balance in the body by inhibiting hunger. Leptin signals the brain to eat less and burn more calories. With excess sugar-rich food fat gets deposited in various regions including the liver where fat cells continue to release leptin. This excess fat causes excess leptin release giving rise to more leptin signals to the brain for eating less. However, too much of the signaling brain becomes numb to leptin signals and becomes leptin resistant, making the body lose its control over eating.
Losing weight increases Leptin sensitivity and results in Leptin to become more effective to control the weight. In order to optimize Leptin level for fat loss:
- Consume diet rich in antioxidant-rich with dark green leafy veggies and berries, and red vegetables
- Sleep 7 to 8 hours daily
- Keep body hydrated by drinking water
- Avoid sugar-rich food
- Avoid multiple servings of fruit more than 3 time in a day
- Avoid processed food
Adiponectin is also an adipokine hormone like Leptin, but unlike Leptin, the fat cells release more Adiponectin when the body is leaner. Adiponectin enhances muscle’s ability to consume carbohydrates for energy, boost metabolism, increases fat breakdown rate and curbs your appetite.
In order to maximize Adiponectin level for fat loss:
- Exercise during the day to get leaner
- Replace carbs the diet with monounsaturated fats like olives, avocados, etc
Adrenal glands secrete cortisol is a hormone when a person is depressed, anxious, stressed, nervous, angry, or physically injured in order to decrease stress levels by increasing blood sugar levels, suppression of the immune system and helping the metabolism of fat, protein, and carbohydrates. Due to a stressful lifestyle, the body leads to the secretion of cortisol aiding visceral fat deposition and stimulating the maturation of fat cells, which is detrimental to overall health.
In order to maximize Cortisol level for fat loss:
- Sleep daily minimum 8 hours
- Practice yoga, breathing exercise and meditation for at least one hour every day for helping in reducing stress levels
- Release stress by spending time with family and friends
- Avoid drinking alcohol
- Avoid processed food and deep fried food
Ovarian calls in women or eating food rich in estrogen give rise to overproduction of estrogen and can cause high estrogen levels. Due to this the cells producing insulin get stressed making the body resistant to insulin, causing a rise in the blood glucose level and leading to weight gain. Both low and high levels of estrogen can lead to weight gain.
In premenopausal women or in old age the body has lower levels of estrogen. For replenishing the estrogen supply body starts looking for sources such as fat cells, the body starts converting all available sources of energy to fat to replenish the glucose levels, causing weight gain.
In order to balance Estrogen level for fat loss:
- Consume whole grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables
- Exercise regularly
- Avoid alcohol consumption
- Avoid processed meat
7. Thyroid hormones
Thyroid glands which are situated at the base of the neck produce these hormones responsible for maintaining the body’s metabolism, namely T3, T4, and calcitonin. Underproduction of thyroid hormones, that is hypothyroidism, causes accumulation of water in the body and results in weight gain. Hyperthyroidism also reduces the body fat burning rate, and causes fatigue and sluggishness. This also leads to slowed digestion leading to constipation. Sluggish metabolism leads to weight gain. The thyroid hormones are also needed for the production of Serotonin hormone, which plays a significant in weight gain.
Hyperthyroidism can be be prevented by:
- Consume iodized salt
- Keep intake of vitamin D
- Eat well-cooked food
- Consume zinc-rich food such as oysters and pumpkin seeds
Like Leptin, Serotonin hormone also signals the brain after eating that the body has sufficient food. Lower levels of thyroid hormones result in lower production of Serotonin. Low Serotonin levels give rise to depression, lethargy, tells the body that it is starving and its increased desire to eat refined carbs, leading to overeating and resulting into weight gain.
Serotonin level can be maintained by:
- Exercise regularly
Testosterone helps the body to strengthen bones, muscles, burn fat and maintain libido. However, due to various lifestyle factors, such as age, stress can reduce testosterone levels and can lead to obesity in both men and women.
In order to maintain a good level of Testosterone for fat loss:
- Exercise daily
- Consume food enriched with fiber such as whole grains, pumpkin seeds and flaxseed
- Intake protein supplements
- Avoid drinking alcohol
Progesterone is required for the smooth functioning of the body. Progesterone levels drop due to stress, intake of contraceptive pills and menopause. This can cause weight gain.
In order to maintain a good level of Progesterone for fat loss:
- Exercise regularly
- Do meditation to avoid stress and anxiety
- Avoid stress and anxiety
Ghrelin, produced in the stomach, is known as the hunger hormone. It signals the brain to stimulate the appetite and increases fat deposition. Reducing calories for losing weight, causes an increase in Ghrelin. Hence, Ghrelin levels are high when people are on a strict diet or while fasting.
In order to optimize level of Ghrelin for fat loss:
- Exercise very regularly
- Drink a glass of water 20 to 30 minutes before meals
- Consume fresh fruits and vegetables, and protein-rich food content
- Eat frequently every 2 to 3 hours
Melatonin hormone regulates sleep and wakefulness. During the sleep body releases growth hormones to heal the body, improve body composition and build lean muscle. When the body does not get proper sleep, the healing process gets disrupted causing stress, subsequently leading to weight gain.
In order to optimize level of Melatonin for fat loss:
- Take sufficient sleep
- Sleep in a dark and cold room
- Don’t eat late night or before sleeping
- Turn off gadgets before sleeping
CCK stands for Cholecystokinin. This hormone is released from the cells in intestines whenever protein or fat is consumed. It signals the nervous system to flip the satiety switch while simultaneously working with the stomach to slow the rate of digestion. Lower level of CCK in the body results in weight gain.
In order to optimize level of CCK for fat loss:
- Intake protein and fat at every meal
Epinephrine is well known as a fight or flight hormone. It drives the burning of fat to release energy in the body. It can also aid in appetite suppression. Lower level of Epinephrine in the body results in weight gain.
In order to maximize level of Epinephrine for fat loss:
- Do regular exercise and interval training
15. Growth Hormone
Growth Hormone, which is considered to be the fountain of youth by many, can affect weight gain. Growth hormone signals fat cells and induces them to burn and break down fat stored into energy. Lower level of Growth Hormone in the body results in weight gain.
- Perform intense exercise and interval training
- Take sound sleep
From the above detailed description, we understand how hormones play an important role in weight management and how we can control them.
Mostly when it comes to obesity we slam the other person suffering from it blaming their lack of will power because we assume that they lack control over following healthy food habits and exercise very less frequently. But, from the above blog we understand how hormones play an important role in weight management which turns obesity reversal a nightmare for those who are suffering from it. In our next blog we shall understand the role of will power to cure or reverse obesity, in order to perform essential weight loss treatment including bariatric surgery to overcome obesity.