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January 25, 2011

Do You Need Help to Lose Weight?

Weighing Scale and Weight Loss

Lose Weight

Are you looking for help to lose weight?  A critical factor that is frequently overlooked by the medical community is the role of optimal hormone levels in controlling weight.

Many of us begin to struggle with our weight in our 30s and 40s.  Coincidentally, our hormone levels begin to decline in our early 30s.  Nutrition and exercise are important in balancing the intake of calories versus calories burned, but weight loss is more than simply calories in – calories out.  Not all calories are the same, and they differ in the way they affect our body’s hormone levels.

Hormones: the Body’s Fuel Injector

Though the body can function with low levels of hormones, it does not function efficiently.  Hormones enable the thousands of metabolic and physiological processes to occur more efficiently and more effectively.  In short, hormones make the body function better and make it easier to lose weight.

Anabolic Hormones: Muscle Builders

Do You Need Help to Lose Weight?
Testosterone molecule

Optimal hormone levels make it easier to lose weight.Some hormones are anabolic, which means they help build muscle and tissue, and promote healing. Testosterone, DHEA, and growth hormone are anabolic.  Testosterone is not just for men, either.  Women need it too.  A pound of muscle burns far more calories than a pound of fat, even at rest. One key to losing weight is to build more muscle mass.  This is best accomplished by engaging in strength training, eating adequate amounts of protein, and ensuring that your testosterone, DHEA, and growth hormone levels are optimal.  If levels of these hormones are low, considering having them replaced with bioidentical hormones.

Thyroid Hormone: Metabolic Regulator

Thyroid hormones regulate our body’s metabolism. The higher our metabolism, the more calories we burn.  When thyroid levels are low our bodily functions slow down including our metabolism.  We become tired and fatigue, don’t think as fast, our gastrointestinal tracts slow down, and our heart rate slows down.  Our bodies simply do not need to burn as much energy, and our metabolism slows down and we gain weight.

Blood tests for thyroid function can be misleading, because of the way in which the reference range is determined, and because of an over reliance of physicians measuring TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) levels only.  If you are overweight and have symptoms of an under active thyroid, despite what the blood tests may show, it is reasonable to consider a trial of thyroid replacement, if there are no other good reasons to explain the symptoms.

Lose Weight by Lowering Insulin Levels

Insulin is a hormone necessary to move sugar and other nutrients from the blood and into the cells where it can be burned for energy.  When insulin levels are elevated, however, the body is unable to burn calories from fat.  Most overweight individuals go through the day with elevated insulin levels, predisposing them to diabetes, obesity, and heart disease.

Carbohydrates that cause a rapid spike in blood sugar lead to excessive insulin levels.  These carbohydrates are called high-glycemic and include junk foods, process foods, alcohol, foods containing processed flour, and more.   Carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables are typically digested and absorbed more slowly and do not lead to excessive insulin levels.  These are complex carbohydrates and tend to be lower glycemic.   To lose weight it is necessary to control insulin levels and consuming low glycemic carbohydrates best does this.

Neurotransmitters: Controlling Appetite

Neurotransmitters are chemicals similar to hormones, but are produced and function within the brain.  Serotonin and dopamine are neurotransmitters that help regulate appetite.  Low levels of these two neurotransmitters can lead to food cravings and make it difficult to lose weight.  Levels of serotonin and dopamine can be measured in the blood.  Both are produced from amino acids, which come from eating protein.

Lose weight through these strategies!

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Dr. Joe Jacko


Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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