Hormone Therapy and Weight Loss: What You Should Know
As we age, fluctuating and declining hormone levels contribute to excess weight. This is especially true for women as menopause can lead to stubborn weight gain and fat stores in new areas of the body. For many, exercise and dieting is just not enough to combat the weight. While liposuction is one possible solution to stubborn fat, addressing the underlying cause may offer a solution that doesn’t involve surgery. When weight gain is the result of stress hormones, low insulin levels, a slow metabolism, or menopause, hormone replacement therapy may be a solution.
Hormones and Weight Gain
Hormones play an important role in weight management. Imbalanced hormones can lead to weight gain as well as a wide variety of physical and mental symptoms. Your body produces dozens of hormones that impact how your body breaks down food and stores fat. Here are some of the most important hormones in weight management.
Do you tend to overeat when you’re stressed? This is usually the result of a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone that’s released when your body needs adrenaline. This release requires the use of stored glucose that can make you feel tired and hungry. Cortisol also encourages the body to store fat, particularly visceral fat that surrounds the organs and raises cholesterol levels.
The best way to control cortisol levels is controlling your stress. Chronic stress will lead to chronically high cortisol levels that can make weight management a challenge.
When the pancreas fails to produce enough insulin, your body will break down food and store glucose as fat. Diabetics who are struggling with weight gain may benefit with insulin therapy to control blood sugar. Unfortunately, taking insulin can also worsen weight gain because it helps the body retain more sugar from food. Choosing a diet high in protein and low in carbs can offset this side effect.
During menopause, a woman’s body stops making estrogen completely. Many women find they struggle to keep excess weight off once menopause begins because estrogen loss leads to lost muscle mass. Muscle burns more calories than fat, and less muscle mass means fewer calories are burned. Lower estrogen levels also make you less active which further lowers your metabolic rate. Menopausal weight gain is usually in the mid-region around the hips and belly.
While many women struggle with this issue, weight gain and menopause do not need to go hand in hand. A sensible diet combined with hormone replacement therapy — when appropriate — can help with weight management and keep stubborn fat at bay.
A growing number of plastic surgeons in the United States are now advertising hormone replacement therapy as it can improve skin quality and reduce signs of aging. While hormone therapy can rejuvenate your appearance in some cases, it shouldn’t be used solely for its anti-aging or weight loss benefits. Always work with a hormone specialist if you think you have a hormonal balance to get an accurate diagnosis and a custom treatment plan that is safe and effective. AAG is a hormone clinic with locations throughout the United States. If you suspect hormones may be playing a role in your weight gain, schedule an appointment to have your hormone levels checked.