Our Sex Hormones, Estrogen, Progesterone and Testosterone, all play a part in maintaining our body weight and youthful figure.
This is because Sex Hormones play a part in our metabolism, appetite, blood sugar control, muscle mass, and even sleep. All of these “jobs” our Sex Hormones play, effect our weight, body mass index, and our body fat percentage.
Estrogen effects how well our bodies utilize sugars and starches. As your Estrogen declines, your body is less efficient at metabolizing sugars and starches and this is why lower carbohydrate diets are more successful as you get older. This is also the cause of the Midsection weight gain ALL women tend to struggle with once they enter their midlife years. Though apple shaped figures struggle most, even women with pear shaped figures start gaining weight in their abdominal area more easily as well.
Estrogen and Progesterone together play a role in your insulin levels. Premenopausal women, (up to 10 years before menopause), brings about Estrogen dominance, which then causes an increase release of insulin. Elevated insulin levels result in our muscles becoming resistant to insulin, which in turn can bring about pre-diabetes, and make it far more difficult to control sugar cravings.
Progesterone also plays a part in maintaining a youthful figure.
Progesterone stimulates GABA (Gamma Amino-Butyric Acid) in our brains which is our calming neurotransmitter. And as Progesterone declines, our GABA declines as well, setting off the likelihood of increased irritability and anxiety. Both of these mood changes causes increased stress and release of Cortisol – an appetite stimulating hormone and fat producing hormone!
Progesterone also is our Sleep Sex Hormone, and helps us reach deeper levels of sleep. Without adequate sleep, cortisol rises, which in turn causes weight gain.
Progesterone also effects the function of our thyroid hormone.
Even if our thyroid gland is producing an appropriate amount of thyroid hormone, low Progesterone levels prevent the thyroid hormones to act as efficiently in our tissues, which means our metabolism declines. And this also means that your thyroid hormones may measure completely normal in your blood work, but the actual function of the thyroid hormones ability to burn calories is reduced.
And how about Testosterone? Testosterone decline causes a loss of muscle mass. This effects our energy levels because our energy level is based on how much ATP our Mitochondria make. The more muscle you have, the more ATP you make, and the more calories you burn. Muscle mass also burns more calories than fat. It’s a double whammy!
Fortunately, research has shown that Hormone Therapy can increase your metabolism, restore restful sleep, help maintain muscle mass, and help us maintain our weight and a more youthful figure.