Since we’re currently in the first month of a new year (and a new decade!), it seemed logical to write a post about weight loss. Getting in shape or losing weight is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions—but what if you’re “doing all the right things,” like making healthy food choices, exercising regularly, drinking a lot of water, attempting to moderate your stress levels, and you can’t seem to hit your goal?
While nutrition and exercise are two foundational pieces to weight management, there are a few other keys to a successful weight loss journey. Hormones can play a big part in your weight—and possibly in stunting your weight loss. Let’s take a closer look.
What Symptoms to Look for and Measuring Your Hormones
One way that we can measure women’s hormones is through the DUTCH Hormone Assessment. It’s a comprehensive hormone test that goes through more than just how much of each hormone you have and what your balance of hormones is. The DUTCH test also measures but how your hormones are being metabolized through your system. Both pieces of information can be super important to know if you’re:
- A woman experiencing:
- Hormonal migraines.
- A family history of estrogen sensitive cancers & experiencing hormone imbalances.
- PMS or other period issues (heavy flow, extreme cramping, clots in blood, breast tenderness).
- Fatigue, difficulty sleeping, low libido, stubborn weight gain, mood changes.
- A man experiencing:
- Sleep changes.
- Decreased libido, depression.
- Weight gain.
- Difficulty maintaining muscle mass.
What Hormones Are Important to Measure When Diving Deeper Into Your Metabolism
Testosterone: One piece of a woman’s hormones that is often forgotten about is the need for testosterone. Testosterone in women is essential for libido, memory and motivation, exercise stamina, and metabolism. And while too much of a good thing can cause problems, not enough testosterone can cause a woman’s metabolism to slow way down.
The DUTCH Hormone Assessment measures your whole testosterone pathway and can tell us if there’s an issue—25% of a woman’s testosterone is made the adrenal glands from a precursor hormone called DHEA. Without proper levels of DHEA, you’ll find that your body can’t make enough testosterone to begin with.
Down the food chain, you’ll see that testosterone can be converted into estrogen, or dihydrotestosterone, both of which won’t stimulate metabolism, and can cause a whole host of other issues. If we find that you’re overconverting your testosterone to these other hormones, we’ll use natural treatments to put a stop to that conversion and keep your testosterone at the metabolism-boosting level it’s supposed to be!
In men, the need for testosterone and metabolism is very similar. However, the “normal” amount of testosterone that you need is dependent on your age, as levels tend to decline over the lifespan. Men with low testosterone can start to gain weight, have difficulty putting on muscle mass, experience low mood, and oftentimes, can experience some degree of erectile dysfunction.
Estrogen: We also like to look at estrogen levels in women who are struggling to lose weight, or who have gained weight in their midsection, thighs, and backs of arms. One of estrogen’s many roles is to keep adequate fat stores (like the fat right under your skin, keeping your skin from the appearance of aging) to maintain energy balance, and protection of your organs from bumping up against each other. However, when estrogen is out of whack, you may notice that it promotes fat tissue to the midsection and it can be difficult to lose!
Not only can high estrogen be an issue, research has shown that low estrogen levels are also correlated with increased weight accumulation and we see this is type of hormone decline in women who are transitioning through menopause and are postmenopausal. Estrogen is also anti-inflammatory, and has influence in your other hormones such as insulin and leptin, so a lack of estrogen can cascade and affect many other systems.
One advantage of doing a DUTCH Hormone Assessment is allowing us to see how your estrogen is metabolized through the body. This test will give us information on phase 1 and phase 2 metabolism and where your estrogens may be getting shunted to, allowing us to figure out how to circumvent that, and promote metabolism.
Adrenal Function/Cortisol: Cortisol is probably the hormone you’ve heard associated with weight loss. Not only can elevated cortisol cause weight gain, but low cortisol levels (adrenal fatigue) can also contribute. Low cortisol can:
- Lower thyroid function.
- Lower output of testosterone.
- Decrease the amount of dopamine (the pleasure hormone) that your brain secretes, which can increase cravings for sugar—because sugar increases our dopamine secretion!
- Increase your urination of key nutrients needed for metabolism—magnesium, vitamin C, & B vitamins.
Our Hormone Assessment (which we’re doing a January promotion on right now!) includes an adrenal hormone profile that measures your cortisol at four different points in the day. This information will let us know the ups and downs your body is going through daily, which can help us determine a plan for better balance.
If you’re feeling at a deficit when it comes to weight loss, then it may be time to seek out additional lab testing. It can be helpful and enlightening to get a more in-depth panel to help diagnose what’s really going on. That’s why, for the month of January, we’re offering personalized health assessments to help you do the detective work and get to the bottom of your symptoms.
It could be as simple as taking the test, meeting with us, and devising a plan to balance your hormones in 2020. Head over to our website for detailed information about the Hormone Assessment. Weight loss and hormones not your issue? We’re offering packages to explore and address concerns related to energy and microbiome too, so you can make 2020 the year you prioritize your health.
Dr. Cassie Wilder is a registered Naturopathic Medical Doctor (NMD) and founder of MIMC. Her passion is empowering her patients through education, understanding, and support through their healing journey. After graduating from Iowa State University with a Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology and Health, Dr. Wilder earned her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine & Health Sciences, a fully accredited and nationally recognized institution in Phoenix, AZ. During her clinical training, she received extensive hands-on training with many leading experts in the field of functional medicine and developed a passion for treating hormonal imbalances, thyroid disorders, cardiovascular concerns, and adrenal fatigue.