HORMONES AND WEIGHT GAIN, BELLY FAT, AND FOOD CRAVINGS
Do you recognize this scenario? The weather has finally cooled off, and you go to grab your favorite jeans for a night out. But they seem to have gotten smaller! You get out the scale and are perplexed to find that your weight has not gone up, but still, you can’t deny that the jeans are tight—and you have never once put these jeans in the dryer. What’s going on here?
One possible answer may surprise you—fluctuating hormone levels have created the perfect conditions for an increase in body fat composition, particularly belly fat.
You may be thinking, what do hormones have to do with belly fat? Or worse, unfortunately, you may be recalling much of the misinformation about the dangers of hormone replacement therapy that came from a study in 2002 called the Women’s Health Initiative. This study was funded by big Pharma (the drug companies) and used a SYNTHETIC form of progestin, and it was this synthetic progestin that caused all the unwanted effects of cancer and heart disease that many people now associate with all hormone replacement therapy (HRT). However, BIO-IDENTICAL hormones have actually been in use since 1938, with dozens if not hundreds of studies performed showing nothing but good effects when properly optimized, including protective benefits to reduce the risk of developing cancer, coronary artery disease, and dementia.
Hormones Affect Us at All Ages
With aging, most of us are aware that women approaching menopause experience imbalances in their levels of the hormones estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone. And with the demands and stress placed on us by our busy lifestyles, even women in their 20’s can begin to experience hormone imbalances, and perimenopause can start affecting women who are in their 30’s.
This means that at nearly every age, anyone can start feeling symptoms of hormone imbalance, like stubborn belly fat, bloating and food cravings, unexplained weight gain or weight loss, and an increase in body fat percentage. No matter what age you are, your body is sensitive to changes in hormone levels throughout your entire lifetime. Even small imbalances can affect your weight, cravings, bloating, GI tract, concentration, fertility, mood, and more.
The good news is that research has shown that one of the many benefits of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) is a decline in the overall percentage of body fat and fat centered around your belly.
Of course, hormone replacement therapy alone, while proven in studies to reduce overall body fat, is only one element of sustained weight management. But HRT could be that extra edge to help reduce belly fat and body fat composition when combined with eating right and moderate exercise.
- Avoid foods such as baked goods and fried foods that are high in saturated fats and trans fats, and instead eat more food with healthier oils such as safflower, canola, or olive oil. Also eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
- At least 5 days a week, combine at least 30 minutes of resistance exercises (such as weight-lifts or exercises like push-ups and sit-ups) with aerobic exercise (like bike-riding, walking, jogging, or other activities that increase your heart rate).
How to Correct Hormone Imbalance
If at any age you are feeling like you are having trouble losing extra weight or just can’t say no to your food cravings, take the time to call Advanced Image Med Spa & Elite Wellness Center and schedule a consultation with Dr. Jennessa Iannitelli (Dr. I). Dr. I will carefully discuss your symptoms with you and order bloodwork to check your hormone levels. It’s almost the last thing you would think of as having an effect on your weight or food cravings, but it could be worth starting at what is the most likely cause, rather than wasting time and money on trying random “fixes” such as vitamins or supplements that may or may not help you manage your weight or body fat composition. Why try to put a band-aid on the problem if you can actually identify the root cause and correct it? Not to mention the fact that long term optimized hormone levels can actually protect against Alzheimer’s, dementia, and heart disease! And the added bonus of weight loss with hormone therapy could also help menopausal women say goodbye to night sweats and hot flashes.
If your blood test does show imbalances in your hormone levels, Dr. Iannitelli can inset subdermal bio-identical hormone replacement pellets just under your skin, and at the precise levels you need to bring your hormones back into balance for optimal biological function. Instead of synthetic creams, patches, and pills, the pellets offer a natural, bioidentical alternative—hormones that are plant-based and structurally identical to those that occur naturally in your body. These hormones are released as needed based on your cardiac activity level. This keeps your hormones functioning at their optimal levels throughout your day, to meet your body’s individual needs.
Additionally, by using pellets you get long-term effective levels—men need pellets every 5-6 months and women every 3-4 months, versus the continuous fluctuation in levels that can be experienced in other delivery methods like creams and injections.
Integrated Approach to BHRT
Because there are many things that can affect your hormones and the endocrine glands that produce them—stress, lifestyle, diet and nutrition, sleep quality, allergies, and more —Dr. I offers an integrated approach to identify what exactly is affecting your hormone levels and creates a plan for what can help keep your hormones in balance moving forward.