Are lack of willpower and self-control the real causes of low energy and overweight? Or can hormones be affecting your energy and weight?
Yes, it might actually be your (powerful) hormones…hormones that directly affect your blood sugar, metabolism and appetite…three things that control your energy and weight.
Let’s review a few of the critical links between your hormones, and how they affect your energy and weight. The links may be stronger than you think.
WHAT ARE HORMONES?
Having healthy hormones is a popular topic these days. And for good reason!
Your hormones are part of the master control system of your entire body.
Hormones are compounds made by one part of the body that are used to communicate with another part. They control the operation of many of our bodily functions including reproduction and metabolism. Imbalances in our hormones can lead to negative health consequences.
For example, the hormone, insulin, is made in the pancreas in response to elevated blood sugar. As explained by Melissa Groves Azzaro, RDN, LD at JoinZoe.com, “Insulin acts like a “key” that opens the door to your cells to let glucose in where it can be used for energy. As glucose travels into the cells, blood sugar goes down. Insulin resistance happens when the cells start ignoring the signal that insulin is trying to send. As a result, blood sugar stays high, and your pancreas produces even more insulin. In the meantime, your body’s cells are literally starving for energy and sending strong signals to your brain that you need to eat carbs.”
Your hormones control not only your blood sugar, but also your metabolism and appetite (as well as a host of other things). Having healthy blood sugar, metabolism and appetite is a foundation for optimal energy and weight.
So, how can your hormones get out of whack to zap your energy and pile up the pounds?
COMMON HORMONAL IMBALANCES
In optimal health, your hormones work well, and you have ample energy and maintain a good healthy weight.
Often however, hormones are not working as they should be. One common issue is that there may be too much or too little of a hormone released to have the desired effect. Examples of this are hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism.
Another common issue is that, even if the right amount of hormone is released, the cells they communicate with can start ignoring them. This is known as hormone “resistance” (i.e. insulin resistance).
If your hormones have such critical jobs, including controlling blood sugar, metabolism and appetite, they can definitely cause issues with your energy and weight.
HORMONES AND ENERGY
Your metabolism is key for controlling your energy. Metabolism itself is basically how much energy (calories) you burn. One of the main players in this is your thyroid hormones.
Your thyroid releases hormones that affect the metabolism of all the cells in your body. If those hormones are too low and your metabolism goes down (hypothyroid), you may feel cold, hungry and tired. If they are too high and your metabolism is too fast (hyperthyroid), you may feel hot, jittery and lose weight.
What you actually want is an ideal metabolism, ideal energy use, ideal temperature, and an ideal weight. Your thyroid hormones are the master controller here.
HORMONES AND WEIGHT
Your weight may also be controlled by hormones more than you think!
Insulin controls your blood sugar and whether that sugar is going to be stored as fat or not. Additionally, when your blood sugar is too low, you may start craving sugar and carbs.
You also have hormones that control your appetite! How hungry and how full you feel are controlled by the hormones ghrelin & leptin. When those get out of whack, you may find yourself wanting to eat because your body thinks you’re hungry and not satisfied…even if that’s not true.
Craving food (especially sugary foods) and not feeling full are huge drivers for you to eat more. Even if your body doesn’t truly need it, the hormonal signals tell you that you do.
And don’t forget that stress hormone, cortisol. When it’s too high for too long, it tells your body to store fat. And not just any fat – belly fat!
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
Your body is very complex and uses hormones to control a huge number of functions. They control your blood sugar, metabolism, and appetite, amongst others. And these directly affect how much energy you feel, how much you weigh, and even where your body fat is stored. And as Melissa Groves Azzaro states, “What works for each of our bodies will be different, so a personalized approach is key.”
Here are a few “hormone stabilizing” tips that might help you with your energy and weight:
- Get regular exercise
- Try stress-relieving activities like deep breathing, meditation or even coloring to reduce your (belly-fat inducing) cortisol
- Make sure you are getting enough sleep
- Eat balanced meals that contain adequate protein, fiber and fat
- Reduce blood sugar spikes by replacing your juice or soda with fruit-infused water
- Visit a health care professional to make sure your hormone levels are within a normal range.
Health coaches are trained to support you in implementing habits to help increase your energy levels and maintain a healthy weight.
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