Do you work out most several days a week and eat healthy meals often, but the scale keeps showing that you’re gaining weight instead of losing weight? Keep in mind that the excess weight around your waistline can be the hardest to lose. But before you start to beat yourself up for skipping those ab workouts at the gym, you should first consider this: As we get older, even a slight disruption in our hormone levels can cause stubborn belly fat to stick.
Research has suggested that postmenopausal women on hormonal replacement therapy have lower levels of belly fat than those that aren’t. Now before you rush to the doctor to get a prescription for your hormonal belly, there are natural ways to readjust your levels. Reducing sugar intake, eliminating processed foods from your diet, and avoiding things like dairy, alcohol, and caffeine can all be ways to help you reset your blood sugar and insulin levels.
So, how do you know if those love handles are a few extra pounds from bingeing on pizza and wine, or if it is a larger issue at play?
Here are some signs that your hormones may be to blame:
Waistline is getting bigger, but you’re eating right:
If you had a small waist for majority of your life, but then all of a sudden that spare tire appears overnight, then it may be a sign that you’ve developed a hormonal belly. As we start to age, the body can become more insulin-resistant, driving your body to store fat instead of burning it off. Women have also become more estrogen-dominant as we move into pre-menopause and beyond. Estrogen dominance promotes insulin resistance, which causes the belly fat build-up.
You Have A Sugar Craving:
Not only can insulin resistance lead to diabetes, it can have some secondary effects on other important hormones as well. Insulin resistance can have a knock-on effect on leptin. Leptin is the hormone that alerts your body when you’re full, but elevated insulin levels eventually lead to elevated leptin, as well.
Elevated leptin does not mean you are more likely to put down your fork and stop eating. Consistently elevated leptin levels can actually lead to a dysfunction of leptin receptors. These receptors stop sending signals to the brain to tell you to stop eating. As a result, you do the exact opposite of what leptin is designed to control, and you continue to eat, never receiving the signal to stop.
Experiencing Mood Swings:
As women enter the pre- and post-menopausal years, their estrogen levels begin to fluctuate often, and this can lead to mood swings and stubborn weight gain around the midsection. This is why women are at a higher risk to develop mood disorders than men. Estrogen levels in women tend to fluctuate the most during reproductive cycle events and menopausal transitions.
This is also the time that most women have reported the onset of depression or recurrent depression. Estrogen levels fluctuate naturally during menopausal bodily changes, which can cause mood swings and lead to weight gain. That is why you should not to blame yourself for excess weight gain. So if you’re struggling to lose excess weight with no success, you shouldn’t blame it on a lack of willpower or self-discipline. This is most likely when your hormones have turned against you.
Instead, you should focus on things you can control like your diet and exercise routine. Revamp your meals and be sure to include plenty of vegetables, lean protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats into your diet. These foods will not only keep you satisfied and curb hunger, but they’ll deliver nutrients you need to stave off age-related insulin resistance and muscle loss.
Constantly Feeling Stressed:
Another major player in the hormonal belly fat game is cortisol. Often referred to as the stress hormone, cortisol levels increase when your body senses you’re overwhelmed anxious, which can lead to stubborn weight gain. this is because the body goes into fight or flight mode. By experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety you can send the body into survival mode which increase our cortisol levels and signals the body to store more fat.
Constantly Exhausted but Can’t Fall Asleep:
Insomnia and exhaustion can be tell-tale signs that hormones are to blame for your weight gain. Lack of sleep causes fatigue, which leads to stress and insomnia. All these things will mess with your hormones, specifically your cortisol levels. High cortisol can actually lead to decreased thyroid levels, which can cause central weight gain. It can also decrease growth hormones, which are responsible for tissue building, muscle growth, and overall health.
Naturally reset your hormones.
The main problem with a fighting hormonal imbalance that causes belly fat is that all the issues are cyclical—one issue leads to another and back. That’s why many women have a hard time whittling away a hormonal belly. Aside from medical intervention, there are lifestyle changes you can make to break the cycle and reset your hormones.
Have questions or concerns? Call Bluestone Health Group. Contact us to schedule an appointment by clicking this link or calling (203) 220-6488