Weight fluctuation is common and often there’s a reason behind it. Whether you’ve indulged slightly more over the holidays or fallen out of your fitness routine, it’s natural for your weight to ebb and flow occasionally.
When this happens you should be able to return to your typical weight with some healthy recipes and an increase in movement. But what about when weight gain seems to occur without any obvious cause?
If you are not eating more than usual and have other symptoms such as acne and menstrual cycle problems, you may be surprised to learn it could be a hormonal problem causing your weight gain. I know it can be stressful when unwanted body changes seem to come out of nowhere, so I’ve put together a guide for.
Let’s review what hormonal weight gain looks like and how to treat it.
Hormonal weight gain is when someone gains weight that’s determined to be associated with underlying hormonal issues, such as having too little or too much of a particular hormone. Changes in hormones can affect major bodily functions including how we lose and gain weight and our metabolic system in general.
Here’s how to tell if your weight gain is being caused by a hormonal imbalance.
You know your body better than anybody, including how your weight is usually distributed. If you’ve ever tried to pull on a pair of jeans after Thanksgiving and Christmas only to discover they’re much tighter around the thighs, you’ll know that you tend to store new body fat on your thighs.
Hormonal weight gain can look different from what you’re used to. Weight as a result of hormonal imbalances in women usually gets stored around the hips, stomach, or face. Men can expect to see hormonal weight gain around the abdominal area, which might result in a more pronounced gut.
The cause of hormonal weight gain is an imbalance of hormones, but this can mean a range of things. Our body produces tons of hormones in any given week. Some of these hormones regulate our body’s natural rhythms, and some control our stress levels, sleep, and more.
For men, hormonal weight gain often occurs as a result of high levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) in the body. In women, hormonal weight gain is largely related to either cortisol or estrogen.
Cortisol is an incredibly useful hormone that controls our body’s fight or flight mode. We really needed it when our ancestors were running away from tigers. However, an overabundance of it can cause belly fat.
Other typical causes of hormonal weight gain include thyroid hormone deficiency, insulin resistance, PCOS, leptin resistance, postpartum issues, and androgen imbalance. Menopause can also be to blame, with low levels of estrogen sometimes causing a slower metabolic rate and a decrease in lean body mass.
While hormonal weight gain can look different from regular weight gain, it’s best to get a second opinion from a healthcare professional before deciding how to treat it.
If hormonal changes are causing you to gain weight, you may have some or all of the symptoms below along with an increase in your body fat.
Some people naturally hold more body fat around their abdomen. But if you’re gaining weight in this area alone instead of across your whole body, it can indicate that hormones are to blame.
Look out for body fat that centers itself around your abdominal area and isn’t present across the rest of your body to see if your weight gain is hormonal.
A goiter is a lump or a swelling. If you have a goiter in your neck or throat area, this tends to be a sign that your thyroid is swollen, a common symptom of hormonal weight gain.
The goiter might cause tightness of breath, coughing, and even difficulty swallowing. If you experience these symptoms, see a medical professional as soon as possible to reduce the swelling and the symptoms that go along with it.
An abnormal increase in thirst can indicate a hormonal issue. If you’re feeling the need to drink more regularly, without an increase in exercising or particularly warm or dry weather, this could point to a hormonal imbalance.
Disruption in your sleep pattern, whether that’s sleeping too little or feeling fatigued, is a symptom of hormonal weight gain when there’s no other obvious cause. Additionally, if you’re getting good-quality sleep between 7-9 hours per night, but still feeling tired there’s something else at play.
Sleep disruption can also be a symptom of many other health conditions, so this should only be seen as hormonal when paired with other signs.
Brain fog refers to an inability to think clearly, a decrease in the ability to concentrate, and thinking more slowly than usual. You may also feel confused or struggle to remember things. Brain fog can be a symptom of hormonal weight gain, especially the type that’s associated with menopause.
Sudden changes in your menstrual cycle can indicate a change in your hormones. If your menstrual cycle suddenly becomes irregular, heavier, or more painful after being stable, this change has likely occurred as a result of a hormonal imbalance.
If your period stops suddenly, pregnancy, excessive exercise, or other culprits might be at play. Look out for other symptoms to give you a clearer idea of what’s going on.
Acne, especially in adulthood, points to hormonal fluctuations. If your skin suddenly develops more spots or blemishes than usual, it’s more than likely something to do with your hormones.
Unwanted changes in your body can be stressful. Luckily, most hormonal weight gain can be treated. The clue is in the name. To treat hormonal imbalances, you must prioritize having balance in your diet and lifestyle!
To start, visit a doctor to discuss your symptoms and ask for a diagnosis. With the help of a medical professional, you can draw up a treatment plan and monitor your progress. Treatment of hormonal weight gain starts with establishing which hormones are at play.
Once you’ve identified the cause possible medical treatments include:
- Hormonal birth control pills
- Insulin therapy
- HRT (hormone replacement therapy)
- Insulin therapy
- Synthetic thyroid hormone.
Your doctor will also likely prescribe lifestyle changes to help you lose weight (and keep it off). These changes include increasing exercise, reducing calories, eating mindfully, and adequate nightly sleep.
If your hormonal weight gain is stress related, you’ll benefit from taking part in stress-reducing activities, like yoga, meditation, mindfulness, better sleep, and therapy. You can also start by getting my FREE 3-day hormone imbalance diet plan now! Just fill in the form below.
If it looks like you have hormonal weight gain, talk to your doctor to confirm and establish a plan.
If you’re experiencing a few of the symptoms closely associated with hormonal weight gain, it’s time to see a doctor. They can put you on a treatment plan that matches your symptoms. Keep in close contact with your doctor throughout your treatment to check on your progress and establish whether or not your chosen treatment is working.