By Dr. Roopa Chari, M.D.
Nov 19th, 2017
Are willpower and self-control the real solution to low energy and weight gain?
It might actually be your (powerful) hormones.
And we’re not just talking about sex hormones here; we’re talking about the hormones that directly affect your blood sugar, metabolism, and appetite. Things that actually control your energy and weight.
Let’s go over 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, happy hormones is all around the “health waves” 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. For example, insulin is made in the pancreas. When your blood sugar gets too high, insulin is released into the bloodstream. Then, insulin goes to your muscles and other cells to tell them to absorb that sugar out of the blood (and if there is still too much blood sugar, it signals to store it as fat).
Your hormones control not only your blood sugar, but also your metabolism and appetite (plus a host of other things). And you probably know that having healthy blood sugar, metabolism and appetite is a foundation for your optimal energy and weight.
So, how can your hormones get imbalanced and zap your energy and cause weight gain (especially belly fat)?
COMMON HORMONAL IMBALANCES
In optimal health, your hormones would work great, and you would have high energy levels and a good healthy weight.
But often there are problems with this whole setup. One common issue is that there may be too much or too little hormone released to have the desired effect. This is known as hypo- or hyper- “hormone” (i.e. hypo- or hyperthyroidism).
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).
As you can imagine, if your hormones have such critical jobs, including controlling blood sugar, metabolism and appetite, if the cells do not respond to these important hormones, this can definitely cause issues with your energy levels 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 of this is...you guessed it! Your thyroid hormones.
Your thyroid releases hormones that affect the metabolism of all the cells in your body. If it’s too low and your metabolism goes down (hypothyroid), you may feel cold, hungry and tired. If it’s 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 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. And 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 hormones are out of balance, you may find yourself wanting to eat because your body thinks you’re hungry and not satisfied...even if that’s not true!
Also craving food (especially sugary sweets) and not feeling full are going to be huge drives 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 stress hormones are too high for too long, it tells your body to store fat. And not just any fat - belly fat!
SUMMARY AND WHAT YOU CAN 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.
Here are a few “hormone stabilizing” tips that might help you with your energy and weight:
- Get regular exercise to use up excess blood sugar before your insulin has your body store it as fat. Remember that regular, consistent exercise is key (i.e. walk for 10 minutes everyday). Keep it simple!
- Try stress-relieving activities like deep breathing, meditation or even coloring to reduce your (belly-fat inducing) cortisol. Start by taking 1 relaxing deep breath every hour to get started!
- Support your thyroid with iodine-containing sea vegetables, fish, legumes, or even an egg
- Balance your blood sugar with extra fiber from blueberries, raspberries, avocados, or flax seeds
- Reduce blood sugar spikes by replacing your juice or soda with fruit-infused water
- If you need some support with your weight, hormones and/or energy levels, contact me (Dr. Chari) for a free strategy session to see how I can help you!
About Dr. Roopa Chari, M.D.: "Dr. Roopa Chari is a medical doctor in Internal Medicine and her brother Deepak Chari is an Engineer and Certified Biofeedback Specialist at The Chari Center of Health, an advanced integrative medical center in Encinitas, CA. * Sign up for a FREE 15 minute holistic medical consult with Dr. Chari and/or a FREE 15 minute Stress & Anxiety Relief session with Advanced Voice Biofeedback with Deepak Chari here or call (760) 230-2711."