So you started a new workout routine and have struggled through weeks of a diet everyone claimed would have you dropping pounds within days? Did the numbers on the scale stay the same or go up? Maybe it is time to examine and eliminate some lesser-known medical conditions that could affect the way your body loses or gains weight. Most of the conditions to be discussed are regularly misunderstood or never addressed when weight fluctuates in a direction other than how the individual intended. Let’s talk about weight loss.
Hormone imbalances are something most often associated with women, especially during the magical “time of the month” or during the menopausal years. It is not uncommon to find males suffering from hormone imbalances, too. Men are typically reluctant to discuss hormone issues candidly but find they experience symptoms like water retention (bloating) and weight issues just like women.
Hormonal imbalances can cause excessive fat storage in particular body areas. Also, they can alter behaviors, eating habits, reactions to stress, and motivation to continue on the weight loss journey without seeing results. In women, estrogen dominance is most often seen in patients suffering from PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome) or endometriosis. When the ratio of estrogen to progesterone is off, or when women have no progesterone at all, they experience fat gains, especially around the abdomen, hips and thighs. Water retention, sugar and carb cravings, and decreased energy are all internal symptoms women encounter when suffering from estrogen dominance. These alone can deter even the most determined dieter.
For men, elevated levels of estrogen, which happens from aromatase conversion of testosterone into estrogen, cause their bodies to store body fat and retain water. As men age, androgen production in the adrenals and gonads decrease while this aromatization of testosterone to estrogen is maintained. Men begin seeing an increase of body fat subcutaneously in the abdomen and experience an increased loss of muscle mass. More importantly, elevated estrogen levels have been found to be a major contributor to the epidemic of abdominal obesity. Elevated levels in aging men can be the root of a myriad of health issues including heart failure, prostate cancer, Type 2 diabetes or autoimmune diseases. In fact, studies show older men have higher estrogen levels than postmenopausal women.
Now, your hormone levels have been determined to be in check, but the extra weight is still hanging tough. It may be time to examine your thyroid functions. An underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism) slows metabolism causing weight gain or making weight loss extremely difficult. The identification of low levels of the thyroid hormones cause a patient to suffer from symptoms such as fatigue, constipation, dry skin and coarse hair. Commonly, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis is the cause behind hypothyroidism. Model Gigi Hadid, actresses Zoe Saldana, Gina Rodriguez, and Kim Cattrall have all revealed they suffered from Hashimoto’s. They each have discussed their weight struggles in detail with media outlets for years. Hypothyroidism is most commonly found in women and is often overlooked during routine physical exams by traditional physicians.
So, neither of those were found to affect you and your weight struggle is ongoing? Maybe it is time to consider adrenal dysfunction, which can be indicated by elevated cortisol levels. The increased cortisol levels cause the body to become inflamed. The inflammation causes water retention and the body to store fat. Because fat is a higher energy source than other macronutrients, your body thinks it needs to be reserved. Perhaps more weight loss secrets? Conventional testing often only looks at extremes on the spectrum of adrenal hormone levels so it is crucial to discuss each and every symptom with a physician.
So, neither of those were found to affect you and your weight struggle is ongoing? Maybe it is time to consider adrenal dysfunction, which can be indicated by elevated cortisol levels. The increased cortisol levels cause the body to become inflamed. The inflammation causes water retention and the body to store fat. Because fat is a higher energy source than other macronutrients, your body thinks it needs to be reserved. Conventional testing often only looks at extremes on the spectrum of adrenal hormone levels so it is crucial to discuss each and every symptom with a physician.
When the test show an issue with adrenal gland functions (over or underactive), hormones that are responsible for a wide variety of metabolic processes are being altered. The most widely known and reviewed hormone, cortisol, keeps the body in balance and regulates blood sugar and pressure. Excessively increased levels may indicate a Cushing’s syndrome diagnosis. This dysfunction causes weight gain and deposits of extremely fatty tissue around the midsection and upper back and between the shoulders. Also, patients see a rounded face appearance and discolored stretch marks across the skin. It is not necessary for adrenal dysfunctions to reach the chronic state before being treated.
Treatment for diseases such as Cushing’s should begin as early as possible for the best recovery outcome. Functional medicine physicians expertly evaluate and listen to the patient’s body. Speaking freely and openly with medical providers about your symptoms and concerns will expedite treatment protocols. The use of bio-identical hormones may balance the body’s hormones in a timely fashion, including those released during stress. Customization is key to ensure one’s body chemistry is matched and can be within reach with the right physician.
Although this article provides a general overview of a few of the medical conditions often associated with gaining or the inability to lose weight, there are many other reasons a patient may struggle after dieting and increasing their exercise activity. It is important to connect symptoms without coming to a narrow “black or white” conclusion. Hormonal imbalances are not as easily diagnosed as strep throat or influenza and take time to get back on track and pointed in the right direction. Vigilance to discover the heart of the weight issue is sometimes necessary and vital for overall health. Contact R3 Health to learn more.