How hormones can affect weight loss


by KING 5 News

Posted on May 17, 2013 at 12:35 PM

Updated Friday, May 17 at 1:13 PM

During the "Get Fit" challenge, we've talked about different things that can affect your weight and ability to lose weight. On Friday, Dr. Emily Cooper stopped by KING 5 to talk about the role of hormones in weight loss and maintenance.

What do hormones have to do with your metabolism?

Hormones are not just about estrogen and testosterone. There are hormones that control appetite and metabolism. For example, when you still feel really hungry or you don't feel satisfied after eating it is due to your hormones not working properly.

So your hormones may cause you to feel hungry or struggle with weight, right?

Exactly. When someone is overweight or obese, the weight problem and frequently appetite irregularity is a symptom of a hormone problem or a metabolic problem. This is not my idea, these hormones have been discovered over the past 20 years.

Scientific studies show that in patients dealing with weight issues, hormones impact appetite and metabolism simultaneously to drive the weight up because their body perceives they're starving.  

How does metabolism really work?

The brain and the body are connected and the hormones are the messengers.

Metabolism simplified:
· The gut speaks to the brain through hormones called incretins to tell the brain we are eating
· The brain speaks to the body through a hormone called MSH that there is enough fuel and body weight
· The pancreas speaks to the brain and body through insulin to say there is food
· The brain and body know there is fat in the food through the hormones leptin and adiponectin
· The stomach produces the hormone ghrelin that tells the brain you are in need of food.

It's a big communication loop that in people of normal weight just loops around smoothly.

In people of higher weights, there can be glitches and short circuits in the loop. These could be due to genetics, medications, environmental toxins or dieting. The glitches interrupt the normal signals and lead to increased appetite and a decreased metabolic rate. That results in increased weight and fat storage.

How do the glitches happen?

It's no one's fault that these glitches happen or something that someone did to cause it. Just like it's not something that a person of normal weight does to be normal weight. It's a hormonal problem and abnormal appetite and weight issues are symptoms. 

So what do you do if you think you have some of these "cracks"?

First of all, there are simple blood tests out there that can determine if you're suffering from a metabolic problem. If you are, medications can help to reset the problem, but not overnight.

If your doctor says it's all about diet and exercise, let them know that you have learned that scientific studies show diets and exercise don't produce long-term results. Be persistent and ask for the tests. Science has told us that making sure that the hormones are aligned properly will lead to a solution.

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