Estrogen-Progesterone factor in weight gain vs. loss
Weight gain in the abdomen is one of the most common complaints of women
whose hormones have begun to change signaling peri-menopause.
There are a number of factors that contribute to this phenomenon of weight
Hormonal imbalance- By the time women are in their later thirties or early forties, the
ovary cannot produce enough progesterone to maintain balance with the body's
estrogen. In essence, women then have a relative excess of estrogen in relation
to progesterone. This "estrogen dominance" results in weight gain around the
middle. In general, the midluteal (middle of the second half of the cycle)
progesterone in a non-pregnant patient is 8 to 10, but can be as high as 20 ng/ml. Besides, Progesterone has a positive effect on the
thyroid, increasing the activity and stimulating the utilization of stored
fat being used for
The body's inclination to hold onto estrogen-producing fat cells in
midlife- At above 16% body
fat your estrogen levels begin to increase and the more body fat you
accumulate the more estrogen you will have. By consistently staying at 16% body fat or slightly under, you will not only
grow better, but your muscle maturity will increase over time tremendously.
There is a chemical reason for this. Therefore, now the extra
calories required to gain muscle have a
higher probability of getting stored as fat. Try to stay between 16-18% body fat.
Once 16% body fat is reached, then one should go on a fat burning phase and
get back down to 12 or 14%. Going up and down in this manner systematically will
give you better muscle and much better definition over time. When in excess, estrogen elevates the growth of estrogen sensitive tissues, causing an
increased size of adipose (fat) tissues in the
thighs and other estrogen
sensitive fat tissues. Especially in women one can see the effects in the
butt, upper thighs and
sometimes in the back of the
arms. Since, our
body's hormones have a direct impact on our appetite,
fat storage, during menopause the estrogen levels fall rapidly causing the
body to stop ovulating. As a result, the ovaries produce less estrogen and the
body starts searching for other places to compensate or fill up for the
deficit. As the fat cells in our body can generate estrogen, the body works
harder to convert calories into fat to increase estrogen levels. Unlike the
muscle cells in our body, the fat cells don't burn calories, which causes the
accumulation of those unwanted pounds and the body ends up storing more fat
than it used to.
High cortisol levels from ongoing stress- Unchecked
stress in our lives can cause
our bodies to release cortisol. If the negative situations continue on for some
months and cortisol levels are high, one result will be gaining abdominal
weight. The stress hormones actually block
weight loss. Stress
disrupts the communication network between the four controlling glands
(pituitary, thyroid, adrenals and ovaries), resulting in an inappropriate
release of hormones. Stress hormones block the formation of LH and FSH,
reducing overall oestrogen production, and causing progesterone levels to
drop. Your hormones are all over the place, interfering with the length and
regularity of your cycle.
Lack of sleep - Researchers say that how much you
sleep and quite
possibility the quality of your sleep may silently orchestrate a symphony of
hormonal activity tied to your
Making the effort to get a minimum of eight hours of sleep every night will
contribute to a healthy appetite and reduce the tendency to
Exposure to toxins in our food and environment-
contribute to lessening the impact of the xenoestrogens on the waistline. Xenoestrogens means foreign estrogens. Some of
the 70,000 registered chemicals for use in the United States have hormonal
effects in addition to toxic
and carcinogenic effects. Also the synergistic effects are well documented but
also largely unknown. These chemicals that affect the hormone systems of the
human body occur at 100 to 1000 times greater concentration than that of the
normal human hormones.
Studies show that women taking higher dose pills,
tend to have an average of about 5 lb weight gain. Higher doses of estrogen in
birth control pills is known to cause weight gain in women due to fluid
retention. Direct stimulation of kidney substances called renin-angiotensin, by
the estrogen in the pills, causes water retention which further leads to sodium
(salt) retention in the body. Although, this weight gain is temporary, using the
lowest possible estrogen containing birth control pills will help reducing
weight gain and swelling due to
water retention. More on birth control pills and
Estrogen and thyroid hormones have opposing actions, hence,
estrogen hormone being more dominant interferes with the thyroid hormone
activity causing hypothyroidism which eventually leads to weight gain. More
on estrogen side effects.
Tips to boost progesterone level in the body
Ensure you are getting enough
For optimal progesterone production the body requires adequate intake of
B-Complex vitamins, in particular
The other key nutrient in progesterone production is
zinc. Eat plenty of organic dark green leafy vegetables, almonds, eggs,
meat, black strap molasses, seeds, nuts and beans. They are all good sources
of B vitamins and magnesium. Fish, nuts and seeds for zinc.
Eat a serve of good quality organic
protein, the size
of you palm 3 times a day. Hormones are made of protein so you want to make
sure you are getting plenty in your diet.
these foods can help improve your progesterone levels: Wild
Yams, walnuts, whole grains,
soy milk, red meat, chicken, shellfish, turkey, turmeric, thyme and
Include soluble fibre
such as oats, pulses, lentils, brown rice, fruit and vegetables. This will
help to keep your bowels regular and remove any excess toxins and hormones
from building up.
Include some form of relaxation and/ or exercise into your weekly
routine. Something like 3 sessions a week of
aerobic exercise and a yoga
class is ideal. The important thing is setting time aside for you.
Cut down on alcohol, caffeine and smoking, as these three factors
cause your body extra stress, as well as depleting the nutrients needed for
hormone production and balance.
Find Natural Supplements: Look for supplements that match what you
require to properly regulate progesterone production. They are available in
oral, intra-vaginal, injectible and intra-dermal forms. Oral supplements are
generally only available through a prescription from your doctor. Please be
sure to research each
supplement before starting to take them to determine side effect and
Avoid These: Avoid blue cohosh, vitex,
, tea tree oil,
, rhodiola rose root,
blossom and motherwort leaf as they all increase levels of
estrogen further lowering progesterone.
Last but not the least, Stay Tested: Be sure to keep seeing your
doctor and get regular testing on your hormonal levels. The balance needs to
be maintained. High levels of progesterone can be just as risky as low ones.
There is no reason to settle for less than our best selves. Especially as we
age, the choices we make can go a long way in optimizing our overall
enhancing our pleasure in life. So, take one step in the right direction today
and one tomorrow. Step by step you'll end up on the right path.