Struggling to get back to your normal weight or to just lose a couple of pounds?
I hear this over and over in my practice, I can’t even tell you how common it is! “I turned 45 and now it seems like I can’t stop gaining.” “I really need to watch what I eat and drink now when I never needed to in the past.” “I’m exercising every day and I eat really clean but I can’t seem to lose a pound and if I do, it just comes back as soon as I have a cheat day.”
Does this sound familiar? If so, keep reading. There are many things to consider and many plans to choose from. Weight loss is very much individual since it is not always calories in = calories out.
Here are the most common reasons I have seen for weight gain, which gives us some insight into weight loss.
#1. Hormone Changes
As we approach 50 we are making less and less estrogen as women, and less testosterone as men, as well as other important hormones. This drop in hormones affects our metabolism. It is completely normal to gain 5-10 lbs during this drop in hormone levels. It does not mean that you have to do nothing and just deal with it. There are options including bioidentical hormone replacement as well as herbal formulations that successfully balance out hormones.
#2. Your Thyroid
Standard thyroid screening is often not enough to see the whole picture with your thyroid. TSH is a very basic screening and should be run in conjunction with free hormone values, as well as antibodies if you are experiencing any symptoms of low thyroid. Thyroid dysfunction is very common and should be assessed with abnormal weight gain.
That’s right. Adrenal dysfunction is a real thing. It tends to especially show up when we hit 40-55 years of age because we are losing ovarian/ testicular function and the adrenals often pick up the slack. Testing for the adrenals is most accurately done via urine in a four-point cortisol test. Blood testing is not ideal for assessing overall daily function. Increased cortisol will often lead to increased abdominal adiposity, AKA belly fat.
#4 Your Diet- alcohol included
Have an honest look at what you are eating. Use an app like My Plate or My Fitness Pal to monitor not just calories, but macronutrients. How much of your daily intake falls into the carbohydrate category? Remember carbohydrates are sugars so they are used for energy, if they are not used, they are stored. Alcohol is a big one. Alcohol is converted into sugar in the body. Also, guess what happens when we overdo it? We typically make bad food choices. If you want to drop some extra pounds drop the booze for a couple of weeks and you will be happily surprised.
#5 Insulin Resistance and Exercise
Who has time for 1-2 hours of exercise per day? Most of us don’t, but we have to make time for at least some. Ideally 30 min an hour per day. Almost anyone can fit this into the schedule if they plan their day around it. Make it convenient, yoga in your living room, biking to work, hit the gym a couple of days a week for an hour, walk with your significant other after dinner. Small changes make big effects. Exercise has been shown to be the most effective way to lower insulin and increase metabolism. Note: if you are just starting out with exercise ease into it, weekend warriors are prone to injury and increased cortisol production leading to increased abdominal fat even with strenuous exercise.
Obviously, there are more reasons we gain and hold onto excess pounds but these are the most common causes. Talk to your doctor about testing your hormones including thyroid and cortisol. Consider making small changes. If you need support and guidance contact Dr. Alison.