The Influence of Hormones on our Bodies – A New Era for Weight Loss Strategy

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A Big Problem 

Today, an alarming 40% of adults in the U.S. struggle with obesity (BMI of 30 or higher) and  another 32% are overweight. Globally, more than 1.9 billion adults are overweight, out of which  650 million adults are obese. The annual medical cost of obesity is estimated to be $149.5  billion.  

Obesity has been associated with various disorders, including stroke, Type 2 diabetes, and  many forms of cancer. According to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, more than  80% of diets are deficient in vegetables and fruits.1 So how do we address this growing  problem? 

The Real Story Behind Weight Gain 

The more recent approaches to weight loss place a larger focus on hormones and type of  calories than the number of calories. Hormones control weight gain and loss and the body’s  ability to burn fat. If we want to be lean, trim, and strong then we need to be mindful of these  hormones, their pervasiveness and influence on bodily tissues. 

Low fat and high carb diets have been marketed to assist in weight loss, but in fact, these  strategies both lead to poor hormone function/blood sugar signaling, inflammation and weight  loss resistance. Alternatively, low carb and high fat diets lead to healthy blood sugar  signaling/healthy hormone function, anti-inflammation, and weight loss. 

Hormones are responsive to the number of calories and the ratios of carbohydrates, fat, and  protein that we are consuming on a daily basis. In addition, our stress load plays a significant role in how these hormones are expressed in our body. If we are overstressed or are sleeping  poorly or doing too much exercise, it may lead to an imbalance of hormones involving  inflammation, food cravings and weight gain. 

There are five major hormones involved in hunger, cravings, and body weight regulation. These  include adiponectin, ghrelin, insulin, cortisol, and leptin. A low glycemic, anti-inflammatory diet  nourishes the body and quiets down the inflammatory cascade. This allows the body to regain  its natural sensitivity to these critical metabolic hormones.  

Our modern society emphasizes the consumption of foods that are loaded with high glycemic  foods that stimulate our body to burn sugar (glucose) as fuel. With elevated sugar comes the  release of insulin to lower the blood sugar and fill up the liver, muscle, and fat cells. High  glycemic foods such as sweets, refined grains such as bread, pasta, and liquid sugar such as soda and fruit juices naturally stimulate the need for substantial amounts of insulin. 

This causes a large burden on the pancreas to produce enough insulin. Since glucose and insulin  naturally stimulates the inflammatory pathway, cytokines interact with the leptin receptors in  the hypothalamus causing a de-sensitivity in the leptin response of satiety and fat burning.

This series of reactions swings our body into sugar burning mode. The leptin hormone creates a  feeling of satiety. When our bodies become desensitized to leptin, we can’t “hear” that signal  and as a result, we overeat.  

Once insulin is finished lowering blood sugar, cortisol is released from the adrenal cortex to  elevate blood sugar again (by metabolizing stored sugars in the muscle/liver and breaking down  key proteins), which then releases more insulin causing blood sugar to dip and the pattern  continues. 

This insulin/cortisol tag-team continues to dominate our body until either a healthy  fat/moderate protein meal is eaten, physical nerve stress is removed, or appropriate burst  training exercise is performed to lower stress, balance blood sugars, and stimulate growth  hormone and testosterone. 

Eventually, the insulin/cortisol reaction will continue to wreak daily havoc until we teach our  bodies through proper nutrition, detox, exercise, quality sleep, and stress management to burn  fat more effectively. For most this will take a period of time as the hypothalamus must undergo  a period of healing to allow the leptin receptors to take their rightful place and the cellular  insulin receptors to regain sensitivity.2 

Methods for Weight Loss: the Whole-Body Wellness Approach 

A successful weight loss management program is potentially lifesaving. Carrying excess weight  increases your risk of many serious health conditions that are some of the leading causes of  death, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease. 

Your weight loss program should begin with a review of your medical history, an evaluation of  your lifestyle choices, a physical exam, and state-of-the-art testing. Based on these results, your  provider individualizes your plan, and creates a program that produces sustainable weight loss. 

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