Local doctor provides tips for uncovering the real cause of weight gain and reveals simple habits for dropping extra pounds
It’s a common question doctors hear from patients: “I’m taking thyroid medication, but I’m still not losing weight. What’s going on?”
Weight loss isn’t just about your thyroid. The thyroid is actually the tip of the hormonal iceberg; many different hormones regulate our weight. When hormones are imbalanced, you won’t lose weight — even with thyroid medication. That’s because the real cause of your weight gain is completely missed.
While many hormones are responsible for whether we’re in fat-storing or fat-burning mode, three important hormones wedge you into fat-storing mode:
- This is a classic example of how a healthy hormone balance is critical for weight loss. Estrogen promotes fat storage at our hips and thighs (an evolutionary mechanism to store energy for reproductive years), and high estrogen keeps it there, often no matter how hard we try to shed it. However, many women notice that they gain weight around menopause when estrogen levels decline. That’s because declining estrogen levels cause muscle loss and increased belly fat.
- Cortisol is a stress hormone. Evolutionarily, stress is our body’s response to a life-threatening situation. Cortisol raises blood sugar so that our muscles have the energy they need for fight or flight. This is great if we’re being chased by a sabertooth tiger! But these days we’re more likely to be stressed by traffic, a rude person at the store, or a fight with a family member. When we’re constantly stressed, our blood sugar levels climb higher. High blood sugar plus high cortisol causes stubborn belly fat to stick around.
- When our blood sugar levels climb, insulin moves blood sugar into cells for energy. But when our cells have all the energy they need, insulin’s job is to shuttle all that extra blood sugar into fat cells to be stored as fat.
When thyroid medication isn’t helping with weight loss, it’s time to think about what else may be keeping the weight on. So many hormones are weight-gain culprits, and no medication or hormone therapy can possibly rebalance all your hormones.
The best way to rebalance your hormones is through individualized diet and lifestyle strategies. This is all about learning what your body needs to get to, and stay at, a healthy weight. It’s not about “calories in, calories out” or pushing yourself harder at the gym — these will only keep your hormones out of balance and, ironically, make it even harder to lose weight.
The best practices for sustainable weight loss:
- Eat healthy food, mostly plants, no processed foods.
- Drink clean water.
- Move every day.
- Prioritize sleep and what you love.
Dr. Emilie Wilson is the owner of Sanos Wellness, where she works with women inside RESTORE, her exclusive 5 month program for sustainable weight loss through natural hormone balance. Learn more at www.sanoswellness.com. Follow her on Instagram @sanoswellness.