Hrt And Cortisol Levels
Hormone replacement therapy can help reduce your perimenopause symptoms and help you feel less stressed. Most of us are walking around with higher than normal levels of cortisol, and this built-up stress can further deplete the already decreasing levels of estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone that normally occur during menopause. High cortisol levels dont just make you feel stressed out or cause symptoms like fatigue, it can have major impacts on your health, and can be a vicious cycle.
HRT has been shown in recent studies to counteract the effects of excess cortisol. 7 During menopause, when estrogen levels start to decline cortisol levels rise and trigger stress responses. Studies show how critical cortisol levels are in sleep-wake patterns, eating, physical activity, and basically how a person adapts to challenges in life. 4 When women are on HRT they have lower levels of cortisol and may react more calmly to stress during and after menopause. 8
Weight Gain As You Age
Studies show that, as we advance in years, we develop sarcopenia, a . This is true for anyone of any gender. Loss of muscle can cause your metabolism to slow down. This is because, the higher your muscle mass, the higher your energy expenditure rate. Youâll naturally burn more calories with more muscle.
Entering your 40s can usher in a time of peak responsibility in your life. Workplace stress, caregiving roles, and all the obligations that come with middle age can increase tension. These responsibilities can eat into your spare time for activities like exercise.
When stress hits, itâs easy to get into the habit of letting diet and exercise fall by the wayside. Not to mention that studies suggest increased levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, may contribute to weight gain.
Add in the hormonal changes of perimenopause and menopause, and youâve got a perfect recipe for putting on weight.
Can An Endocrinologist Help With Weight Loss
An endocrinologist can very often help you reverse weight gain that is associated with hormonal imbalances. Potentially useful interventions include lifestyle changes such as exercise, diet modification, or stress management, as well as treatments such as testosterone or thyroid hormone replacement. Medications may be able to help with weight gain-related symptoms such as increased appetite, or to moderate excessive hormone levels.
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The Link Between Cortisol And Weight Gain
Science Based Amy Myers, MD
Amy Myers, M.D. is a functional medicine physician, trained and certified by The Institute of Functional Medicine. Dr. Myers earned her Doctor of Medicine at the LSU Health Science Center, and completed her Emergency Medicine residency at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Dr. Myers retired from her functional medicine clinic, Austin UltraHealth, where she served thousands of patients, to empower those who were failed by conventional medicine. Shes a 2x New York Times bestselling author, and the founder and CEO of the health & lifestyle e-commerce brand, Amy Myers MD®.
Are you eating healthy, exercising regularly, yet still struggling at the scale? Ive been there. I battled unwanted weight gain even though I was doing everything right. I was so frustrated and didnt consider that my stress levels contributed to my weight gain. The connection between cortisol and weight gain is overlooked as contributing to those stubborn pounds that wont come off.
The link between cortisol and weight gain can always be traced back to stress, and chronic stress leads to cortisol production in large amounts, which leads to obesity and weight gain.1
I will tell you about the link between cortisol and weight gain, other effects of too much cortisol production, and how to relieve your stress naturally so you can achieve your optimal weight. Before we get to that, I will review cortisol and its role in your bodys response to stress.
Too Much Cortisol And Weight Gain
Long hours at work, sleep deprivation, relationship problems, financial issues, and a poor diet are constant stressors in your life. The truth is our modern lifestyles are fraught with stress, and your body was not designed to live in fight or flight mode all the time. Chronic stress can lead to various health problems that Ill discuss shortly.
Cortisol stimulates your fat and carbohydrate metabolism to give your body a rush of energy as it prepares to fight off a threat. Your appetite naturally increases to signal that your body needs more fuel to keep up with the energy demand.
Cortisol production triggers cravings for foods that offer a quick energy source, such as a simple carbohydrate. Simple carbohydrates, or sugar, enter the bloodstream fast and spike blood glucose levels for a short burst of energy. In our hunter-gatherer days, a piece of fruit would be a welcome source of quick-release energy.
Refined sugar, however, is a modern invention that our bodies did not evolve to have the capacity to deal with properly. While this simple supply of energy is beneficial in the occasional dangerous situation, this process is not as helpful when it becomes a part of your daily routine due to chronic stress.
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How To Balance Ghrelin Levels
If you have a sneaking suspicion your ghrelin levels are in need of some TLC, here are a couple of ways to balance them:
- Eat adequate amounts of protein. Protein helps you feel full and should be consumed with every meal. Studies show how eating protein promotes healthy ghrelin levels.
- Avoid sugar as much as possible. As you can see by now, consuming too much sugar disrupts hormonal balance, making weight loss seem an impossible feat. Be sure to read labels. If an item contains high-fructose corn syrup, dont buy it. A 2013 study published in Nutritional Diabetes shows how high-fructose corn syrup is one of the primary culprits of imbalance when it comes to hormones and weight gain.
Getting To Know Ghrelin
You can think of ghrelin as your hunger hormone. Like leptin, it communicates with the brain in this case, telling your brain to eat. Every time your stomach becomes empty, it naturally releases ghrelin into your bloodstream. Ghrelin levels are lowest just after youve finished a meal. Theyre at their highest when the stomach is empty and youre ready for your next meal. This scenario is normal when a person is healthy and maintaining optimal weight.
An overweight person, on the other hand, will find that like the other hormones weve explored ghrelin levels are typically out of whack. In healthy individuals, ghrelin levels decrease in a way that satiates them and signals their brains to stop eating. But in obese individuals, ghrelin levels dont decrease enough after eating, which fails to send the brain the signal it needs to stop eating and feel satisfied.
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Will I Experience Weight Gain If My Cortisol Is Too High
The short answer: yes.
But why? Why do extremely high cortisol levels lead to weight gain, especially in women 40+ years old?
Research shows that you become less resilient to stress as your age increases. You also learned that high cortisol levels can lead to muscle breakdown, stored midsection fat, and lower leptin levels.
Another reason why high cortisol levels can make you experience weight gain is that cortisol impacts your insulin levels and increases your desire for comfort foods and sweets.
If youve ever heard of the term stress eating, thats exactly what were talking about here. Increased cortisol causes stress eating which can lead to weight gain and poor sleep.
Overall, high cortisol levels lead to:
These factors may contribute to weight gain.
Choose Fats Wisely And Eat Meals With Healthy Fats To Counter Weight Gain
Fat adds flavor, makes our food taste better, and is part of a healthy diet. So the good news is that it isnt necessary or recommended to completely eliminate it from your diet altogether. You just need to learn how to be more choosy, says Palumbo. Think more walnuts, and fewer Whoppers.
The healthiest fats are the ones that derive from vegetable sources like olives and nuts, but keep in mind that healthy fats like those found in avocados have the same number of calories as the fat found in an ice cream sundae. An ounce of nuts has 170 calories, so you have to be very careful, says Palumbo. The same goes with extra virgin olive oil. The American way is to go overboard, so you have to be extremely cautious when you use it and measure the amounts of fats and oils that you consume.
And restaurant meals once again are not your friends in the fat department. Restaurants are not in business to make us healthy. They add a lot of flavor carriers, which are known as fats, Palumbo says. Salad dressings are one of the biggest sources of added fat in our diet, so be sure to order your salad with the dressing on the side.
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Move More Once You Hit Midlife Say Experts
Weight gain may feel like its inevitable once youve entered your fourth decade, but the truth is, it doesnt have to be. Natural hormonal changes mean you may start to notice symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings, but you dont need to idly accept that the number on the bathroom scale will steadily creep up, too.
Heres whats going on with your body if elastic-waist pants are now your go-to fashion staple: Weight distribution changes as you hit menopause, with the added pounds accumulating right around your belly. I named the extra fat that collects around your middle the menopot, says Pamela Peeke, MD, MPH, author of Body for Life for Women.
What we did when we were 30 and what we do when were 60 is very different, says Kathryn A. Boling, MD, a family medicine physician at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore. We have to adjust our exercise some as we get older. If youve lost some gusto, create incentives for yourself to stay moving. I have an Apple Watch, and I like to see that circle closed, she says. Peeke says you dont have to go to a gym, but you do need to do enough strength training to keep your muscles strong and your metabolism revved. Try activities that have you lifting, pushing, and pulling, she says.
What Can I Do To Balance My Cortisol Levels
Hormones play an important role in weight loss. So, if youre on a weight loss journey, its important to keep your hormone levels in check.
Here are my tips to address cortisol.
Cortisol can affect important thyroid nutrients like selenium and magnesium. It can also reduce your livers ability to clear estrogens. I highly recommend a full thyroid panel to identify nutrient deficiencies and to balance cortisol levels.
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Subcutaneous Fat Vs Visceral Fat
The jiggling jelly wobble is caused by subcutaneous fat that sits just under the skin. And while it may be giving you self-esteem grief whats more important is the visceral fat that lies at a deeper level.
Visceral fat is invisible so even those of normal body weight can have it. This is a concern because visceral fat surrounds our internal organs making us more susceptible to heart disease, diabetes, stroke and some cancers.
How Is Hormonal Weight Gain Diagnosed
An evaluation with an endocrinologist can help determine if a hormonal condition is the underlying cause of weight gain. Declining estrogen, adrenal disorders, hormonal resistance, thyroid imbalance, and several other hormonal imbalances can lead to weight gain. Laboratory tests give endocrinologists insight to hormonal imbalances when combined with your symptoms and presentation, but it doesnt always tell the whole story. Blood and urine results can be influenced by many things. For this reason, we suggest special evaluations to see how metabolic information relates to the lab data.
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How To Normalize Cortisol Levels
HRT – HRT is available as an oral tablet, a topical lotion or patch, or vaginal cream and can counteract the effects of excess cortisol.
Healthy Sleep – Keep your sleeping and waking time the same each day, try to get at least 7 hours of uninterrupted rest, and limit electronics use before bedtime.
Exercise – Regardless of which kind of exercise you choose, exercising throughout menopause reduces stress and helps improve cortisol levels.
Diet – Focus on a diet that doesnt cause spikes in your blood sugar. Spikes in sugar can cause cortisol spikes too.
Relaxation – Relaxation practices can reduce cortisol and stress levels. Try deep breathing exercises and meditation.
Cut Back On – You dont have to completely get rid of them, but reducing alcohol and caffeine can significantly reduce cortisol levels.
Ok Ill Test But Until The Results Are In Is There One Diet Or Eating Plan You Think Is The Best/healthiest
Nicole: My work is all about food and how to leverage food for proper hormonal balance. Most of my clients are on some form of a Paleo Diet. Since I have clients that have autoimmune issues, such as thyroid dysfunction, they tend to be on an autoimmune paleo diet, but the ratio of how they consume their food is very individual. Which means they do not consumeâ¦
- Nightshade vegetables
This is very challenging, but for some, it can be incredibly effective. This diet may not be necessary or sustainable for everyone, so itâs important to test and work with a nutritionist to understand which foods do and donât support your hormonal health.
Additionally, I tell my clients to make a few simple lifestyle changes that can really have a positive impact on weight and overall wellness:
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Insulin Cortisol & Thyroid
Intricately connected, when these three amigos are out of kilter it can create hormonal mayhem. Imbalanced blood sugar and high-stress levels lead to abdominal weight gain thats hard to lose and a sluggish thyroid leads to a sluggish metabolism.
Can Cortisol Help With Menopause
Cortisol is a hormone that is produced by our bodies and is essential to our health. It can be our best friend or worst nightmare through menopause and beyond, depending on the levels we have in our body. We need it to kick-start us in the morning, its what motivates us, allowing us the energy to get out of bed.
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Causes Of Hormonal Weight Gain And How To Prevent It
Have you been losing and gaining the same 10-20 pounds for the past couple of years? Its now halfway into 2020 and if your New Years Resolution was lose weight and you havent quite reached your goal yet, dont feel too discouraged.
Weight gain and weight loss are influenced by a lot of factors, some of which you may not know about and are out of your control.Keep reading to learn more about the reasons for hormonal weight gain and the steps you can take to prevent it.
What Are Natural Menopause Weight Gain Treatments
One of the best ways to treat weight gain caused by hormonal imbalance is to instill simple, lifestyle changes proven to reap hard results. Start by consuming a healthy, balanced diet rich in phytoestrogens to promote hormonal equilibrium exercising regularly with aerobic and strengthening exercises to burn calories and build muscle mass and relieving stress with relaxation methods, involving yoga, tai chi, meditation, or visualization techniques. For improved results, implement the use of alternative medicine, like phytoestrogenic herbal supplements or hormone-regulating supplements.
Keep in mind that weight redistribution due to changes in estrogen does not necessarily equate to weight gain, but the compounding factors during this time mean that many women do gain pounds as they go through menopause. Because menopausal weight gain can lead to other serious problems, such as heart disease, sleep apnea, and diabetes, it is crucial to maintain a healthy weight.
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How Is Menopause Weight Gain Related To Age
As both men and women age, fat mass tends to increase, while muscle mass decreases. For many women, the start of these changes coincides with the menopause transition.
Furthermore, metabolism begins to slow down, which means fewer daily calories are required than before. Maintaining the same diet and size portions as years before can result in gaining extra weight.
How Our Metabolic Reset Program Can Help
Your cortisol levels can have a huge impact on your weight loss journey.
I want to give you the tools that you need for success, so I created our Metabolic Reset Program.
In this program youll receive the accountability, coaching, and foods you need to help you overcome stubborn weight loss resistance. We can also help to determine if your cortisol levels are the culprits of your weight loss struggles.
To speak to a health coach, book an appointment here.
And if you want to learn more about how hormones may be the root cause of your weight loss, subscribe to my Youtube channel and .
Im cheering for you,