Updated: Jul 20, 2018
Factors That Contribute to Weight Gain
The forces are complex and intricate and the information out there is confusing to say the least! Here are a few myths we’ll be bustin’ by the end of this post:
· Eat less, move more.
· Restrict calories to boost metabolism
· My thyroid is to blame
· Juice cleanses will detox and restore me
· All calories are created equal
Hormones drive much of your physiology: metabolism, weight gain, fat cell distribution, and how/where/and when we store fat versus when we use fat.
Systems and their hormones:
1. Adrenal: insulin, cortisol
2. Thyroid: thyroid
3. Sex: estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone
I like to think of these 3 systems as dominos. 1 --> 2 --> 3. When the first falls down, it is likely that there will be subsequent effects in the latter two systems, in a trickle down effect. Conversely, when you believe there to be an issue with your thyroid, aim to fix the domino that may be knocking its effectiveness down- the adrenal. I created a visual web of the interconnectedness of these three systems you can find at the end of the post.
1. Chronic elevated cortisol and/or insulin --->
2. Decrease in thyroid hormone production --->
3. Elevated estrogen
*Every step in this process in-and-of itself is anabolic (leads to weight gain), while all three exacerbate by creating a domino effect.
Now, imagine increasing thyroid hormones or decreasing estrogen, will you solve the problem? No, because you haven’t fixed the #1 domino- the adrenals: elevated cortisol/insulin.
Hormone system disrupters:
These effectors disrupt all three systems, rendering them unable to send proper signals, communicate with one another, or even support your body’s natural ability to absorb and use nutrients.
· Stress: mental, physical, social, economical
· Excess weight
· Diet high in: processed, simple sugars
*Unless you have a clinical diagnosis of Hypothyroidism, your thyroid itself is unlikely the cause of weight gain.
Food is information!
What, when, and how you eat determines the signals you send to your hormone producers. Hormones contain directives (Store fat! Use energy!). Your food determines which hormone (directive) is sent throughout your body. So a calorie from a cookie crisp will send different signals and create different results in your body when compared to a calorie from a carrot.
Eat less, move more: If you don’t give your brain enough information (from food) how will your body carry out the proper directive (I’m full, now start using my fat stores)? A calorie deficit alongside excess exercise throws your body into survival mode- saving energy from food while breaking down and using your protein (muscles) for fuel. Furthermore, too much strenuous exercise can be detrimental to weight loss efforts through the elevated stress-cortisol pathway.
Restrict calories to boost metabolism/ Juice cleanses: The genes that are responsible for metabolism get activated when you eat certain foods (healthy fats, quality protein, complex carbohydrates), all of which are lacking in juices. Without these pieces of information your body goes into starvation mode, sending hormone signals to save energy, store fat, and make more glucose- all counterproductive directives for weight loss!
Genetics of hormone metabolism:
Some include: COMT, MTHFR, and the CYP450 family. At Genetic Garden we assess your genetic ability to produce, process, and eliminate hormones.
I will go into the intricacies of each system in future blogs.
Let me make a quick caveat: this discussion is based on otherwise healthy individuals (I.e. no clinical hypothyroidism, Diabetes, or hormone replacement therapy)