Looking to lose weight? Have your hormone levels checked!
- Written by Dr Adam Friedman
Your diet is awesome and you’re putting in ample time at the gym, but you still can’t shed body weight? Consider having your hormone levels checked.
Understand, there are essentially three variables in the fat-loss equation: Diet – Exercise – Hormones. Each plays a role, but not equally.
What most of us are doing – going to the gym and eating “healthy” is important. But which is more important; diet or exercise? In regards to fat-loss diet is 80% of the equation. You can’t out-train a bad diet. However, the third variable I’d like to spend a little time talking about, trumps the other two. But before I do, I need to emphasise the importance of exercise (as it’s going to get the least attention from me today and as an exercise physiologist as well as naturopathic physician, I feel, needs its due diligence).
The best diet in the world isn’t going to improve your cardiovascular and respiratory endurance, stamina, speed, power, strength, flexibility, coordination, accuracy and/or balance. That you get from exercise. So do that, more days than not, preferably at an intensity suitable for a fat-loss exercise program.
Your hormones control it all
Overriding each of the other variables (Diet, Exercise) are your hormones. The best diet in the world isn’t going to give you the body fat % you’re looking for if your thyroid hormones are out of balance. You could go on a celery and sunshine diet and if your adrenal hormones are out of whack you’re still not going to get a flat stomach. Melatonin levels askew? Estrogen levels irregular? What’s your testosterone level? Hormones are the messages sent from various organs, glands and tissues (brain, kidneys, liver, adipose tissue, muscles, pancreas,) in our bodies that control bodily functions (metabolism, sleep, cellular regeneration, synthesis and breakdown of all the systems that require maintenance).
Put succinctly, your hormones control it all. So if you’re sure your diet is awesome and you’re putting in ample time at the gym, consider having your hormone levels checked. You don’t have to have them all checked but there are some pretty inexpensive tests you can do to rule out some of the more common hormonal imbalances that have a direct impact on fat-loss: Cortisol, insulin, thyroid hormones, estrogen, testosterone, melatonin, etc.
I’m continually amazed at the number of patients (as well as personal training clients) I see, whose primary obstacle to their goals is their own hormones.
Once we’ve identified and optimized your imbalanced hormone levels, achieving your fat-loss goals become possible. I say possible because with many hormones, imbalance will make it impossible to achieve. Take insulin for example. One of the biochemical properties of insulin (a potent glucoregulatory hormone), secreted from the pancreas is, as long as it’s present in the blood stream, no lipolysis (fat-burning for energy) can take place. Or, we could look at cortisol. One of the side effects of excess cortisol secretion from the adrenal glands is, truncal obesity (fat around the midsection). The list goes on.
If you believe your best efforts to lose the excess fat are going for naught, do yourself a favour and rule out the potential hormonal imbalances that I see every day in my practice.