Weight Loss and Female HormonesApr 28, 2021 06:15PM ● By Lidia Adkins and Suzanne Doad
Women go through several hormone shifts throughout their lives, including puberty, pregnancy and menopause. The shifts in hormones, such as estrogen deficiency that occurs after menopause, affect metabolism and are potentially related to weight gain. Estrogen deficiency can lead to a decrease in resting metabolic rate, which means that the body burns less calories at rest than it used to. It can also increase insulin resistance, causing the body to use more insulin after a meal.
Insulin is a hormone which helps the body to be able to use food for energy. Among its other actions, it causes the body to store energy, including in the form of fat, for use at a later time. In case of insulin resistance, certain cells cannot use carbs for energy production, but instead cause the body to turn carbs into fat molecules which get deposited inside adipose tissue, resulting in fat gain.
Another issue particular to the loss of estrogen is the redistribution of fat stores from a pear shape to an apple shape, in which fat is more concentrated around the abdomen and interferes with the working of the internal organs and hormone systems. Abdominal obesity has been linked to a variety of health issues, including Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and some forms of cancer, including those of the breast and colon. The decrease in lean muscle mass which occurs after menopause also causes metabolism to slow. Weight loss and maintenance can be difficult and frustrating in this setting.
There are dietary measures that women can take to help prevent weight gain after menopause. Increasing the amount of dietary fiber, such as non-starchy vegetables that help to keep the stomach full, is one way to accomplish this. Not only are these foods fiber-rich, but they also possess a variety of vitamins and minerals that help our metabolism to function effectively.
Aiming to get adequate protein—healthy meats such as chicken and fish—as well as healthy fat—olive oil and avocados—with each meal can help to reduce hunger and curb between-meal cravings.
Lifestyle measures such as physical activity help maintain metabolic function following menopause. Resistance training can help increase muscle tissue, which improves calorie burn, as well as improving balance and bone density. Aerobic activity can improve heart health, improve insulin sensitivity and increase metabolism.
In some cases, a detailed hormone panel gives an accurate insight onto a specific hormone deficiency so the physician can suggest specific supplementation to restore production. In addition, bioidentical hormone therapies have shown promising results because they help balance hormonal levels. An in-depth understanding regarding the cause of the imbalance, as well as addressing the cause, is necessary prior to committing to hormonal replacement therapies.
Dr. Lidia Adkins, PKT, DC, CFMP is founder and owner of Carolinas Weight Loss Institute located at 216 S. New Hope Rd. in Gastonia. For more information, call 704-271-9757, email [email protected] or visit www.cwli.net. Suzanne Doad, MS, RD, LDN, previously worked at Carolinas Weight Loss Institute.