In today’s episode, Dr. Lisa and Dr. Toni are discussing the impact of your hormones on your weight and metabolism, especially during times of stress…like during a pandemic!

Weight gain is not a normal function of aging or just about calories in and calories out!

The probability of achieving normal weight with eating less, exercising more for people who are obese (BMI 30-34.9) is less than 1% (over 9 years in UK study).

Which hormones are impacting your weight?

  1. Insulin – a fat storage hormone produced by the pancreas for blood sugar balance which can cause weight gain around the waist
  • Macronutrient balance in your diet is important, especially first thing in the morning
  • Eat enough healthy fat, protein and fibre to slow release of sugar into your bloodstream
  • Set limits for your sugar and alcohol intake, eg. only on the weekend, 2 drinks/night, ideally with supper
  • How well you sleep the night before has a huge impact on if you reach for carbs for breakfast the next morning
  • Moving your body and using your muscles can lower glucose and insulin levels to get out of fat storage mode
    • Have fun with your exercise snacks! Yoga, zumba, dance, walks, play
  1. Thyroid hormones – controls metabolism, energy and body temperature
  • Synthetic estrogen from birth control pill use can impact thyroid function, as well as stress, immune system function and certain toxins
  1. Testosterone – supports energy and libido, as well as builds muscle, which is metabolically active tissue that burns calories
  • Be aware of over-exercise causes your body more stress and inflammation, especially with too much cardio and not enough strength training or weight-bearing exercise
  1. Cortisol – stress hormone that promotes fat storage around waist 
  • Reduces serotonin, leading to increased carb cravings and emotional eating
  • Increases ghrelin, leading to more feelings of hunger
  • Lowers progesterone, leading to relative estrogen excess and weight gain around the hips
  • Reduce your stress with healthy coping strategies like limiting your media intake, exercise, deep breathing and meditation, calming herbal teas

What else can cause weight gain?

Environmental toxins! Certain chemicals you are exposed to every day have been found to act as obesogens, causing weight gain, hormone imbalance and insulin resistance. 

No wonder 64% of Canadian adult are overweight or obese and 30% of children (5-17 years of age) are overweight or obese!

What can you do?

  • Avoid chemicals like flame retardants, phthalates and BPA/BPS in plastic
  • Reduce your use of plastic and use glass, stainless steel and silicone containers
  • Follow the recommendations of David Suzuki Foundation to avoid the Dirty Dozen cosmetic chemicals.
  • Eat organic when you can or use the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list to reduce pesticide exposure.
  • Support your liver detoxification pathways and gut microbiome 
    • Sulfurophane from broccoli sprouts resulted in less weight gain in animal study, while balancing blood sugar and reducing fatty liver
    • Fermented foods support gut bacteria diversity
    • Fibre acts as food to feed our beneficial bacteria, as well as bind up toxic compounds to be eliminated instead of reabsorbed

How do you know what hormones are causing your weight gain?

Laboratory testing with a naturopathic doctor can be helpful for determining what hormones are out of optimal range and develop a strategic plan to correct any imbalances.

  • Thyroid panel (TSH, free T4 and T3) 
  • Blood sugar (HbA1c, fasting glucose and fasting insulin) or home glucometer to check blood sugar after meals throughout the day
  • DUTCH (dried urine hormone test) for cortisol, estrogen, testosterone, progesterone, melatonin

Today’s Mama Must Have:

Dr. Toni is thankful for Camp Hoo-ha online for adult social activity during this time of self-isolation and social distancing. Learn a new skill and earn a badge while enjoying a glass of wine or other adult beverage and connecting with women across Canada.

Thank you for joining us today! 

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