It’s common wisdom that you gain weight when you regularly eat more calories than you use through physical activity and normal body functions. Yes, it’s true that losing weight means eating fewer calories and burning more energy through physical activity. It sounds simple, but an estimated 160 million Americans are overweight or obese.
Being overweight increases your blood pressure and taxes your cardiovascular system, endangering your general health. Excess is not just unhealthy, it’s also unsightly, and can negatively impact your self-image. Nobody wants belly fat hanging over their belt!
You might be an incredibly healthy eater, counting calories and making sure the food you’re eating is the best fuel you can put in your body. You might exercise on a regular basis, too—but you still find yourself gaining weight. The question can drive you crazy: Why do I gain weight so easily!?!
Does Working Out Result in Weight Gain? Does My Diet?
Exercise is one of the best ways you can support the health of your mind, body, and soul, and it also boosts endorphin production, which can make you happier, more creative, and more productive while balancing blood sugar levels, which helps to prevent diabetes and heart disease. But too much exercise can cause your body to store fat because it increases your cortisol level, which can promote fat storage.
In an effort to achieve long-term weight loss, it’s common to look at your diet to consider whether what you eat is at the heart of the problem. You may consult the internet or friends, looking for a weight-loss plan that is best suited for your lifestyle.
But with a plethora of diets, each promising that you will lose weight rapidly and permanently, it’s hard to know where to turn. There’s the Mediterranean diet, low-fat diets, the Atkins diet, the keto diet. There are diets that ask you to count calories or measure how much protein you consume or weigh out portion sizes with a scale. And time after time, diet after diet, you attack with ferocity, and you lose weight at first, but then it seems like you hit a wall; the pounds stop coming off, you get bored with the food, and you regain the weight.
Then you are told by your friends who regularly go to the gym or run every day that diet and exercise must be combined to lose weight and keep it off. So you go to the gym in an attempt to burn off calories and increase lean muscle mass, which you are told burns more calories than fat. You measure your activity level against the number of calories consumed and throw yourself into strength training to build muscle. And while workout after workout helps to raise your basal metabolic rate and improves your long-term health prospects, you still struggle to melt the fat off, often getting discouraged and falling back into bad habits.
What Health Conditions Lead to Weight Gain?
While many people put on weight because they eat and drink more calories than they burn through everyday movement and body functions, in some cases, weight gain may be due to an underlying health condition.
These include certain diabetes medications such as insulin. Insulin helps glucose to be absorbed and stored, and if you eat more than you need, excess glucose will be converted into fat, and this will result in weight gain.
People who take steroids, also known as corticosteroids, for conditions such as asthma and arthritis, can see an increased appetite, leading to weight gain. This symptom commonly accompanies steroid use, showing up especially on the abdomen, chest, and face. The increased cortisol from the medication redistributes fat to these areas.
Fluid retention, or edema, causes parts of the body to become swollen, which translates into weight gain. Fluid retention can be due to standing for long periods of time or can be a symptom of pre-menstrual syndrome.
Your weight gain may also be all in your gut, literally. Your digestive system needs good bacteria, also known as probiotics, to function correctly. However, there’s also bad bacteria in your digestive tract. If the balance between good and bad bacteria is off, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth can happen, triggering bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, flatulence, and sudden weight gain.
Hormonal Conditions That Can Lead to Unwanted Weight Gain
Weight gain can also be due to a malfunctioning endocrine system. Hormones play a role in a wide range of essential functions in the body. The collection of glands that produce hormones are known as the endocrine system, and though tiny in size, they do everything from regulating your metabolism and allowing you to sleep to initiating labor. However, when you have a hormonal imbalance, body functions can be unbalanced, and for many people, that can lead to unwanted weight gain.
For women, one of the most common hormonal imbalance conditions is polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which can feature symptoms such as irregular periods, trouble getting pregnant, excess hair growth, and weight gain. The cause of PCOS is unknown, but its symptoms are due to elevated levels of hormones such as testosterone and insulin.
For both men and women, an underactive thyroid means that your body isn’t producing adequate levels of thyroid hormone. The thyroid gland is not functioning optimally, which affects its regulation of your metabolic rate. Without sufficient thyroid hormone, weight gain goes up as metabolism goes down. The condition occurs most frequently in older women, although it can occur in men and women of all ages.
High levels of the cortisol hormone can result in Cushing’s syndrome, a very rare condition affecting around 1 in 50,000 people. Two potential causes of Cushing’s are the presence of a tumor and long-term steroid treatment.
Am I Gaining Weight Just Because of Age?
For many people, though, weight gain is a natural result of aging. Hormonal changes and a decrease in physical activity lead to the loss of small amounts of muscle mass. When you lose muscle mass, you lose a very efficient calorie burner, which leads to burning fewer calories. If you don’t make corresponding lifestyle changes, such as eating and drinking less, you may find the weight creeping up.
And as you age, your endocrine system doesn’t work as well either, meaning you can be suffering from a hormonal imbalance, also leading to weight gain.
For women, perimenopause, the transition period to menopause, can include a hormonal imbalance, with estrogen rising and falling unevenly, causing weight gain in some women.
Perimenopause, combined with the other body changes that happen as women grow older, including a loss of muscle mass, can result in sudden weight gain.
For men, there is no distinct cause and effect relationship, however, it is evident that there is a connection between weight gain in men and andropause-related hormonal imbalances. In men, the contributing hormones to increase in body fat, specially around the midsection, is low testosterone and high cortisol. This body fat seems to further the hormonal imbalance by converting testosterone into estrogen.
Recent research has shown that estrogen plays a much bigger role in how men’s bodies are regulated than previously thought, and as the relationship between estrogen and testosterone changes with age, reduced testosterone levels can be to blame for the loss of muscle mass in men, as well as fat accumulation, according to a study published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
High stress or cortisol levels in the body is also linked to weight gain in both male and females. The body goes into survival mode when there is a prolonged heightened levels of cortisol. And the body induces the production of fat cells and the decline of metabolism to store food for later use. The cortisol also increases appetite in order to procure energy for “fight or flight.”
Does Exercise and Diet Help at All?
The short answer is yes: exercise and nutrition plans can absolutely support weight loss—particularly when you work with skilled physicians to develop the plan that’s right for you and your circumstances.
For exercise in particular, consider the following moves to reduce belly fat (but always make sure you consult with your practitioner prior to beginning a new exercise regimen):
- Twist Crunches
- Side Crunch
- Reverse Crunches
- Vertical Leg Crunch
- Bicycle Exercise
- Lunge Twist
- Rolling Plank Exercise
- The Stomach Vacuum
- Captain’s Chair
- Bending Side To Side
Could Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy Be the Solution?
Hormonal imbalance can occur in almost anyone older than 40. In fact, many people over the age of 30 begin to experience fluctuations in their hormone levels. These changes may lead to one or more of the common symptoms of aging, including:
- Weight gain
- Limited energy
- Hair loss
- Low sex drive
- Mood swings
- Poor concentration
- Memory loss
A hormone imbalance can be the reason for unexpected weight gain or the inability to lose weight, despite your many efforts to stay healthy, exercise, and eat good food. It makes sense that balancing these hormones has a big impact on weight loss. With the help of bioidentical hormones, the highly trained health professionals in the BodyLogicMD network can evaluate your current health and measure your hormone levels. To balance your hormones for optimal health and wellness, it is critical to be evaluated by a highly trained physician. Such an evaluation includes comprehensive lab testing and in-depth intake questionnaires, which result in the creation of a personalized treatment plan.
The healthcare professionals affiliated with BodyLogicMD treat weight gain through several different approaches, including:
- Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy
- Suggested lifestyle changes
- A targeted supplement regimen
- Recommendations for routine physical activity
There is a reason the physicians in the BodyLogicMD network are the most sought-after in the industry. Every bioidentical hormone physician who joins the BodyLogicMD network completes over 200 hours of advanced training with the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine.
In addition to their life-long pursuit of knowledge in service to their clients, BodyLogicMD-affiliated physicians must also complete a Fellowship in Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine, which is focused solely on bioidentical hormone replacement therapy and is offered by a non-profit organization dedicated to pursuing the science of anti-aging medicine. The speciality focuses on the prevention, early detection, treatment, and reversal of prevention of decline due to age. It’s considered both a medical speciality and a field of research. which is a clinical/medical specialty and field of scientific research aimed at the early detection, prevention, treatment, and reversal of age-related decline. No other team that meets the standard of BodyLogicMD-affiliated physicians.
Regenerative medicine optimizes the body’s internal mechanisms of self-repair and adds proven and prospective treatments and technologies. Another aspect of the Fellowship is functional medicine, an integrative, science-based healthcare approach. Functional medicine focuses on the unique biochemistry of each patient. Practitioners then tailor interventions to achieve the restoration of balance across physiological, psychological, and structural aspects. It is a comprehensive method of treating illness and promoting wellness.
The most fundamental physical processes inform the functional medicine approach. Other important considerations are environmental inputs and a patient’s genetic history as it relates to health and disease. Functional medicine helps practitioners craft interventions that therefore address the root cause of the dysfunction, rather than mask symptoms. Seven principles undergird functional medicine:
- Practitioners focus on treating the patient, not simply managing the disease.
- Practitioners see connections among physical systems that have an impact across the body.
- Practitioners aim for vitality as the end result of treatment, rather than simply a lack of disease.
- Practitioners rigorously review emerging research to connect it to their clinical practice.
- Practitioners do not assume patients follow a single template of health or genetic expression; they explore the uniqueness of each individuals genetics and environmental exposure.
- Practitioners look at both internal physical processes and external factors that affect bodily functioning.
- Practitioners work to support the ability of organs to return to full function after being stressed.
The healthcare professionals in the BodyLogicMD network take seriously your individual concerns and will help you identify your age-related or hormonal imbalance symptoms to tailor a treatment specific to you as a unique person. As part of that treatment, your BodyLogicMD-affiliated practitioner may choose to prescribe bioidentical hormones, which may include estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, thyroid hormones, DHEA, melatonin, or others as needed.
When you become a patient, you receive the dedicated time and attention of an expert physician and your questions about your condition, a prospective treatment plan, or bioidentical hormone replacement therapy are taken into consideration and thoroughly addressed during a personal one-on-one consultation with your practitioner. Your practitioner will partner with you throughout your journey, step by step, to help you achieve optimal health and reach your wellness goals.