Stop Hormonal Weight Gain with 6 Scientifically Proven Methods

Stop Hormonal Weight Gain with 6 Scientifically Proven Methods

6 min read | Hormonal Weight | Hormones

Menopause woman sleeping in bed with hair sticking to face.

Raging hormones wreaking havoc on the scale? You're not alone! Hormonal weight gain is a sneaky culprit that many women battle, and it's not about holiday overindulgence or willpower gone astray. 

The reality is that hormonal weight gain is a complex phenomenon that affects a significant number of women, and understanding its intricacies is crucial for effective weight management strategies.

1. Manage Hunger Hormones

Did you know that your body has a trio of hormones that have the power to dictate your hunger levels, cravings, and feelings of fullness?

These hormones are leptin, ghrelin, and insulin, and they play a significant role in your eating habits. 

The good news is that you can actually manipulate these hormones to work in your favor by making smart food choices. Let's explore how you can tame your biological urge to overeat and nourish your body at the same time.

Ghrelin, aptly nicknamed the "hunger hormone," is produced by the digestive system and acts as your appetite regulator.(1)

It's the culprit behind those rumbling stomach sounds when you're feeling hungry and serves as a signal to your brain that it's time to eat. 

Ghrelin not only increases your appetite but also influences your sleep-wake cycle, reward-seeking behavior, and carbohydrate metabolism.

The key is to keep your ghrelin levels in check to curb excessive hunger pangs. But how can you achieve this? 

Start by incorporating lean proteins into your diet, such as chicken, fish, seafood, and legumes. Protein not only helps preserve your muscle mass but also takes longer to digest, keeping you feeling satisfied for extended periods. 

Additionally, consuming good fats, which are rich in omega-3, can also aid in satiety. Foods like fatty fish, nuts and seeds, avocados, extra virgin olive oil, full-fat coconut milk, and organic nut butter can keep you feeling full for hours on end.

Another effective strategy is to increase your fiber intake. Fiber not only provides lasting satiety but has also been shown to play a role in hormone regulation. So load up on fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes to help keep your hunger hormones in balance.(2)

Now, let's turn our attention to leptin, the "satiety hormone." Leptin plays a crucial role in inhibiting hunger and promoting a sense of fullness after eating.(3)

However, an imbalance in leptin levels can lead to a lack of satiety, even when we eat to our heart's content. To optimize leptin levels, there are a few simple steps you can take:

First, avoid refined carbohydrates, sugars, and sweeteners as they can spike insulin levels, which may interfere with leptin production. 

Instead, focus on a balanced diet that is high in protein, healthy fats, and fiber, while moderating your intake of simple carbohydrates.

Secondly, ensure that you're consuming enough zinc-rich foods, such as spinach, beef, seafood, cocoa, beans, and mushrooms. 

Studies have shown that people with leptin deficiency often have a zinc deficiency as well. By incorporating these zinc-rich foods into your diet, you can support optimal leptin function.

Finally, let's address insulin, the hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar levels. When we consume food, our blood glucose levels rise, triggering the release of insulin to lower those levels.

However, excessive consumption of sugary treats and simple carbs can lead to a spike in glucose levels, requiring even more insulin production. This is where our infamous sweet tooth comes into play.

To control insulin levels, it's crucial to limit your intake of sugar, sweeteners, and simple carbs like white bread, pasta, pastries, and candies. 

Instead, focus on incorporating protein into your meals and snacks. Protein has been shown to help stabilize blood sugar levels. Consider adding a tablespoon of peanut butter, a scoop of protein powder, or a handful of peanuts to your snacks to keep your blood sugar in check.

By taking control of your hunger hormones, you can effectively prevent hormonal weight gain and support your overall well-being. 

Remember, these tips are not a one-size-fits-all solution, so it's always best to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian to create a personalized plan that aligns with your specific needs and goals.

2. Prioritise Sleep 

You've probably heard this before...adequate sleep is essential for hormone regulation and weight control. But how? Lack of sleep can disrupt hormone levels, leading to increased appetite, cravings, and weight gain.(4)

A recent study found that poor sleep leads to an increased levels of the hunger-stimulating hormone ghrelin and decreased levels of the satiety hormone leptin.(5)

Establish a regular sleep routine, create a comfortable sleep environment, and practice good sleep hygiene to ensure sufficient rest.

If the night sweats are disrupting your sleep, opt for a cooling mattress and pillow. 

3. Manage Stress

When stressed, our body releases cortisol, a hormone that can promote the storage of fat, particularly in the abdominal area. Chronic stress can disrupt hormone balance and contribute to weight gain.(6)

Therefore, it's crucial to implement stress management techniques to prevent hormonal weight gain. 

Mind-body practices like yoga, meditation, deep breathing exercises, and mindfulness have been shown to reduce stress levels and improve hormonal balance.(7)

But it's not a one size fits all. Find what works for you, it could be a run, having a tea, listening to music, baking, the list is endless. 

4. Stay Hydrated

No one can can argue that drinking an adequate amount of water is important for overall health but it can also support weight management.

Water plays a crucial role in metabolism, as it helps the body break down fat and eliminate waste products. It can also help curb appetite, as thirst is often mistaken for hunger.

Research published in the journal Obesity demonstrated that drinking water before meals can reduce calorie intake and enhance weight loss efforts. 

Additionally, staying hydrated can support proper digestion and nutrient absorption, which are essential for overall well-being. 

Make it a habit to carry a water bottle with you throughout the day and aim to drink water consistently to maintain hydration.

5. Lifting Weights or Body Weight Exercise 

Weightlifting can indeed be beneficial for hormonal weight control in menopausal women. 

As women age and go through menopause, hormonal changes can lead to a decrease in muscle mass and an increase in body fat, particularly around the midsection.(8)

Regular weightlifting exercises can help counteract these effects by promoting muscle growth and increasing metabolism.

When you engage in weightlifting or resistance training, your muscles are stimulated, and this stimulation triggers various hormonal responses in your body. 

One of the key hormones affected by weightlifting is growth hormone (GH). GH plays a crucial role in metabolism, fat burning, and muscle growth. Studies have shown that resistance training can significantly increase GH levels, even in menopausal women. (9)

Moreover, weightlifting helps build and maintain lean muscle mass. Muscle tissue is metabolically active, meaning it burns more calories at rest compared to fat tissue. 

By increasing your muscle mass through weightlifting, you can boost your metabolism, allowing your body to burn more calories throughout the day. This can aid in weight management and hormonal balance.

Weightlifting also has the potential to improve insulin sensitivity. Insulin is a hormone responsible for regulating blood sugar levels. During menopause, insulin resistance can occur, leading to weight gain and an increased risk of diabetes. 

By incorporating weightlifting into your routine, you can enhance insulin sensitivity, promoting better blood sugar control and reducing the likelihood of weight gain.

In conclusion, weightlifting can be a valuable tool for menopausal women looking to manage hormonal weight gain. By promoting muscle growth, increasing metabolism, improving insulin sensitivity, and enhancing bone health, weightlifting offers numerous benefits that can positively influence body composition and overall well-being.

6. Speak to Your Doctor

Lastly, if you're truly determined to put an end to hormonal weight gain, it's highly recommended to seek professional guidance from a doctor. 

Since everyone's body is unique, it's crucial to understand the root cause of your specific hormonal weight gain in order to establish an effective strategy. 

Consulting a doctor is essential for an accurate diagnosis of your individual condition and to receive tailored recommendations for addressing the issue once and for all. 

Don't hesitate to reach out to a medical expert who can provide the expertise and support needed on your journey to a healthier weight and well-being.

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