Hormones are Making Me Overeat!
How our hormones affect weight loss.
A significant influence on your ability to gain or lose weight is hormonal. How our hormones behave is not readily noticeable for us to recognize but has a considerable impact.
As I discussed in my article, Battling to Lose Weight, when you are losing weight, your body makes more ghrelin. The hormone ghrelin is the one that makes you feel hungry. If you make more ghrelin, you will think you are hungry, have cravings, and want to eat.
At the same time, your body starts producing less leptin. Leptin is the hormone that makes you feel full. If you are making less of it, your body will not signal you to stop eating when you have had enough. Without this signal, you will overeat.
This natural imbalance continues even after the weight loss. Typically, most people desire to plateau after losing weight and want to stay at this new desired body size. You may attempt to add a few more calories to your typical day, usually reintroducing some of your old favorites — foods you have been missing because they are not on your weight loss plan.
If you have excess ghrelin and low leptin, it will be hard to fight the ghrelin hormonal urge to keep eating, especially since you make less leptin to help you resist.(1) It will be challenging to keep the weight off. It is difficult to resist this natural process if you lose weight quickly. If you lose weight slowly, your body will adjust its hormone levels as your weight decreases; this makes staying at your new lower weight somewhat easier.
Another factor is that your metabolism slows down when you restrict your calories.
As you lose weight, your body needs fewer calories to maintain the smaller you.
So there is a metabolic trifecta trying to keep you at your weight before you started losing. No wonder it is so hard!
If you are female, there are additional hormonal considerations. During the menopause and postmenopausal eras of your life, your hormones change, and with it comes the tendency of the body to want to gain weight. These changes make it especially hard after weight loss, as the body wants to regain the original weight even more than before menopause.(2) Hope is not lost.
This hormonal change is very susceptible to exercise.(3) With appropriate measures, including physical activity and a low-energy diet, weight gain can be avoided during menopause.(3) This is just another reason to develop or change our behavioral habits regarding diet and activity. We can help at healthyendeavors.co — check out our programs and see if one is right for you.
1. Cooper CB, Neufeld EV, Dolezal BA, Martin JL. Sleep deprivation and obesity in adults: a brief narrative review. BMJ Open Sport Exerc Med. 2018 Oct 4;4(1):e000392. doi: 10.1136/bmjsem-2018–000392. PMID: 30364557; PMCID: PMC6196958.
2. Sénéchal M, Arguin H, Bouchard DR, Carpentier AC, Ardilouze JL, Dionne IJ, Brochu M. Weight gain since menopause and its associations with weight loss maintenance in obese postmenopausal women. Clin Interv Aging. 2011;6:221–5. doi: 10.2147/CIA.S23574. Epub 2011 Aug 19. PMID: 21966216; PMCID: PMC3180518. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21966216/
3. Simkin-Silverman LR, Wing RR. Weight gain during menopause. Is it inevitable or can it be prevented? Postgrad Med. 2000 Sep 1;108(3):47–50, 53–6. doi: 10.3810/pgm.2000.09.1.1204. PMID: 11004935. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11004935/