Hormonal Triggers for Weight Gain

We tend to think that the fat we eat is the same fat that ends up in our love handles. However, the body is a complex array of biochemical reactions and the relationship between dietary fat and fat stored in our hips & buttocks is not as straightforward as it seems.

The theory of “calories in, calories out” gained popularity over the last 30 years and made us forget about earlier research that distinguished different types of nutrients and their effects on weight gain. The modern theory that a calorie is a calorie is a calorie equates the body to a simple machine, ignoring some of the complex hormonal interplays and their effects on our body weight. In fact, weight gain is a lot more about hormones than about caloric intake! This explains why most overweight people will tell you that eat like birds and still cannot lose weight or why many women suddenly put on weight after menopause.

We tend to think that the fat we eat is the same fat that ends up in our love handles. However, the body is a complex array of biochemical reactions and the relationship between dietary fat and fat stored in our hips & buttocks is not as straightforward as it seems. In fact, eating low-fat products is not the magic key to losing weight – as many have experienced first hand. Why is this? The answer is simple but may come as a surprise: most body fat is made from the sugar we eat!

The process works as follows: when we eat sugar – and by sugar we mean anything sweet, fruits included, but also white starches such as white rice or white bread – our blood sugar levels go up. Since blood sugar levels that are too high or too low can cause internal damage, the body is well-equipped to keep the levels in check. When blood sugar levels rise after a meal, we produce the hormone insulin. It causes the body to perform three sequential actions:

  1. Insulin tells our muscle cells to take sugar up from our bloodstream. This directly lowers blood sugar levels and gives muscle cells fuel to keep on functioning. Therefore, exercising helps “burn off” some of the foods we’ve eaten – and by putting on more muscle mass through exercise, extra muscle can take up more sugar at a time.

  2. Insulin tells the liver to take up some sugar from the bloodstream and convert it into a starch reserve for later use. This will be useful so that if we have skipped breakfast, we don’t collapse – the liver will simply change some of this starch into sugar to feed our brain & muscles.

  3. Finally, insulin instructs our liver to convert any extra sugar left in the bloodstream into fat and cholesterol. These two are then shipped off to specialized fat cells in our bellies, hips/buttocks and other areas. And that’s it: the chocolate cake or the pizza you ate for lunch becomes body fat!

So, eating sweet foods or starches (particularly refined starches) makes us fat.

 

One of the sad consequences of many popular diets – whether low-fat or low-calorie – is that people end of consuming foods that are not nourishing on a chronic basis. Too much low-fat yoghurt, too many low-calorie snacks…and often too few unrefined, truly nourishing foods such as vegetables, legumes and unprocessed animal products. Over time, the body can simply no longer compensate for this chronic & insidious malnutrition. Our metabolism then slows down due to nutrient depletion, as there is less and less high quality fuel to burn. One of the main organs responsible for metabolic rate is the thyroid, which slows down accordingly. Thus, low-fat and low-calorie diets may be partially responsible for the modern-day hypothyroidism epidemic observed especially amongst women. Many individuals with hypothyroidism are overweight and tend to restrict fats and calories in their diet. And thus beings a vicious cycle: thicker waistline  reaction: fewer calories, slower metabolism  thicker waistline etc…This cycle can only be broken once individuals accept to go back a higher calorie but more nourishing diet.

Chronic stress is another significant obstacle to weight loss. When we are chronically under pressure (like a never-ending to-do list, a job we don’t enjoy, or a long-standing family issue) our body produces cortisol. This hormone allows us to “keep going” when we are quite exhausted. But the price is high! Indeed, our hormonal mechanisms evolved millions of years ago, when “stress” meant running away from a predator. For this reason, cortisol ensures that our muscles & cardiovascular system have enough steam to literally escape the tiger or mammoth. This means that cortisol raises both blood sugar levels (so that our muscles have fuel to burn readily available) and blood pressure (so that our muscles & heart have enough oxygen to keep going). The trouble is that we experience modern-day stress while sitting motionless behind an office desk or in the car, our muscles don’t burn off the extra sugar put into circulation and our heart really doesn’t need to beat any faster. Over time, this leads to chronically high blood sugar levels and therefore elevated insulin, resulting in constant fat storage and very little burning of fat. The lesson learned comes as no surprise: take it easy, relax, and you will shed those pounds faster!

Here are some easy ways to leverage your hormones to lose weight with more ease

  1. Minimize starches and sugars in your diet but fulfill your natural appetite using liberal amounts of vegetables, animal products or vegetarian protein sources and unrefined fats (avocadoes, nuts, seeds, animal fats from organic animal products).

  2. Forget the “low calorie low fat” type of dieting which can slow down the thyroid in the long run.

  3. Examine your daily routine and eliminate as many sources of stress as possible while practicing mindfulness to balance your cortisol level.

Let me know in the comments below.


I will be happy to read and reply all of your comments. also feel free to share on any of the Social Media listed below and start the "Conversation".
As always, thanks for popping in and see you soon.

Mirko Francioni
Mirko Francioni

Mirko is for people who knows him well a true motivator and inspirer. He has been the driving force in projects such as a wellness center in Thailand, a corporate on-line travel agency and membership club with over 120,000 members worldwide. Mirko has created a strong professional reputation as one of the leaders in the hospitality and fitness & recreation industries.​

Read other posts from Mirko Francioni
spaghetti

Mindful Eating can be a reality

Many people at lunch eat the classic salad rich in vegetables, in oil, tuna, mozzarella, ham. This way they believe they eat light, sometimes they do not even digest it properly. By heart, these salad are rich in calories and fat, to my opinion is much better a pasta dish with a light sauce. Even stuffing our bodies of meal substitutes that anticipate sense of satiety is part of those cheats that are then paid. It’s okay, but remember that a salad and a hard egg have less calories and the same nutritional properties than a bar.

Fat makes you feel insatiable

In the evening, we get some cold cuts, cured meats and pizzas at the happy hour with friends, and back home do not give up on the slice of leftover cake in the fridge. Why? Fat-rich dishes are responsible for the so-called fat paradox, that is, they silence the signal of satiety and so we eat twice as mush as what in reality should. The solution is self-control, that is, we can still eat the pitta bread with pastrami, the important thing is not to do the bis, (do it twice). And if you are invited to a rich and fat meal, the tip is to eat just a little of everything, to satisfy your curiosity without feeling guilty.

After the sweets, does hunger start appearing again?

If you can not give up chocolate and sweets is because chocolate is the typical euphoric food, it triggers endorphins, the mood of the wellness hormones. But shortly afterwards it’s hunger again, because the body is forced to produce more insulin to absorb ingested sugar. This excess insulin lowers glucose in the blood so rapidly that it has increased, with the result that the body requires it at once, triggering the hunger for sweets.

In order not to fall into this vicious circle, you should choose complex carbohydrates, which release the sugar slowly and keep the sense of satiety longer.

Do not skip lunch

There are many people who forget to stop for lunch, or they specifically avoid this meal; the problem is that then you come to dinner with a terrible hunger. It happens because when we are concentrated on other things, whether business or pleasure, stress hormones are produced and this alleviate the sense of hunger, but as soon as the plug is pulled away the stomach demands. So you have to take small snacks during the day and remember that in the evening it is better to limit yourself, as the body does not burn calories. Better get satiated with a good minestrone for dinner, and satisfy the palate for lunch.

The calorie count

If you grant yourself a bit of luxury every day, in one week you can end up putting one extra pound. But a whim occasionally does not hurt. Here are some examples of caloric foods just so you know what to choose.

  • A candy 20Kal
  • A chocolate 45 Kal
  • A teaspoon of honey 60 Kal
  • Two Chocolate Biscuits 92 Kal
  • A spoon of nutella 135 Kal
  • A Cream filled Pastry 221 Kal
  • Brioche and Cappuccino 265 Kal

Do you tend to overeat? Or do you feel you might have eat the wrong foods convinced that they are light and healthy?
Let me know in the comments below.


I will be happy to read and reply all of your comments. also feel free to share on any of the Social Media listed below and start the "Conversation".
As always, thanks for popping in and see you soon.

franco nero
about the author

Franco defines itself as a person trapped in a sedentary lifestyle, however, he is an avid fitness "addict" and like, many more in his environment spends vast parts of his leisure time on a gym, running, cycling.