What is going on guys and welcome I will be addressing nutrition and training topics specifically for women, and I will be taking a deeper look into the primary hormones involved in weight gain and weight loss and women, and this will be an information-packed overview of the hormones. I will also discuss on testosterone for women weight loss is necessary or not?
Stay tuned where I will be going over actionable application of what you can actually do with this information, But I think it's necessary to learn the basics first. And as a quick disclaimer, there are 1000s of biological processes interactions cross-talk and compensatory mechanisms, constantly going on in your body, so this will just be the highlights as to not go beyond the scope of your interests.
For the sake of time, and with that being said let's just get started.
What are hormones?
A very simple definition for this is that a hormone is any compound in the body that exerts a biological effect somewhere else in the body, a chemical messenger, if you will, and hormones are absolutely vital to our physiology, they regulate growth and development, our metabolism, reproduction.
And even how we use food and a common analogy here is that a hormone is a key and the receptor for that hormone. Generally speaking because there are exceptions of course but every hormone has a specific receptor that I can bind to, for example, estrogen binds to the estrogen receptor and testosterone binds to the androgen receptor.
So what are the main 5 hormones for fat loss in Women. I will be covering testosterone, progesterone, estrogen, leptin, and thyroid hormones.
5 hormones for fat loss in Women
Testosterone for Women Weight Loss?
First up is testosterone, it is most functionally known to stimulate the development of male secondary sexual characteristics like body hair growth, and deepening of the vocal cords.
But it still has a role in women and small amounts are produced in the female ovaries, it's a steroid hormone, which simply means that it's derived from cholesterol, and has anabolic effects, as well as androgenic effects.
Both of these have very gender-specific effects on body fat levels, normal levels of testosterone are beneficial for women as testosterone is important for bone health, lean body mass and strength.
However, women tend to run into some problems with these levels when they deviate from normal. Low levels have been shown to cause issues with women sex drive and elevated levels actually increased body weight and body fat specifically fat around the midsection. Therefore maintaining normal levels of testosterone is optimal, but it's not really one that you should be concerned with manipulating.
Next up is progesterone, and progesterone is another steroid hormone released from the corpus luteum in the ovaries. It develops after the release of an egg and population progesterone is elevated in the luteal phase of the female menstrual cycle. It is essential for preparing the uterus and the body in general for pregnancy.
However it does have some negative effects in regards to fat loss, which makes sense because your body wants it to have enough that for baby making. The one positive of progesterone for fat loss is that when you have your highest levels of progesterone in the luteal phase of your menstrual cycle, there's a slight elevation and body temperature. This mild elevation can elevate metabolic rate and energy expenditure, up to roughly an extra 100 to 300, calories a day.
However, this is usually countered by a progesterone effect on hunger and cravings to increase the amount of calories, women tend to consume in the luteal phase of their menstrual cycle. High levels of progesterone also increased levels of labor protein lipase and alga eating stimulating protein, which are enzymes involved in fat storage and high levels can have negative effects to insulin sensitivity.
High levels of progesterone also have been shown to have negative effects from a training perspective, as progesterone tends to decrease tendon strength and decrease the ability to build muscle, which is why it's a good time to D load or decrease training volume during the luteal phase.
So what about estrogen. Well, there are actually three primary estrogens, which are estrone estradiol and estriol which have a slightly different effects depending on the stage of life.
The woman is in briefly estrone is most relevant during pregnancy and estriol is most relevant post menopause. So for the scope of this discussion, we will focus on Astra dial, which I will refer to from now on is just estrogen.
Estrogen is a steroid hormone that is produced by the female ovaries and is elevated predominantly in the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle. It's essential for the development of the female sex characteristics, which for example are things like widening up the hips and the development of breast tissue and is actually critically involved in the deposition of breast fat.
It contributes to both women's increased overall body fat levels, and her lower body fat patterning. Again, all of which is good for a potential pregnancy and estrogen has a pretty bad rap as causing a lot of problems for women to lose body fat, which is partially to blame but it can also have a lot of positive effects in regards to weight loss.
So let's quickly get through the few negatives, one being estrogen can negatively impact thyroid levels, which I will get to in a minute elevated levels of estrogen also thick in connective tissue in the skin, which is the primary cause of cellulite .
But a lot of estrogens negative effects are usually in combination with high dietary fat intake, but like I said, there are a lot of positives of estrogen such as preventing bone loss enhancing brain function, as well as fat loss benefits, along with activating a compound called AMTK or a MP kinase.
It enhances the use of fat for fuel, estrogen can also increase insulin sensitivity, it can mitigate inflammation, it can help build muscle and it can also help limit muscle soreness, estrogen has also been shown to interact with leptin, which acts to regulate appetite, body weight and body fat. It segues nicely to the next hormone which is leptin.
Leptin is released, primarily from fat cells, which was a big surprise in the early 90s. When scientists realized that cells are not just for storage, and one of leptins biggest roles in the body is a gauge of energy reserves.
Based on this gauge, it will exert its effects on food intake and energy expenditure and leptin is directly correlated to the amount of body fat. Someone with more body fat will usually have higher levels of leptin. They are also very malleable and change rapidly as a result of dietary changes, especially dietary changes and carbohydrates.
So, leptin could largely be due to less food, or when you diet and tells the body to lower metabolic rate, as well as to increase hunger, and it does this by increasing appetite-stimulating hormones, as well as decreasing appetite-suppressing hormones, and this is all in an effort to tell your body to eat more.
And studies show an increase in food, especially carbohydrates can bring these levels back up, and as I previously mentioned, there's an interaction between estrogen and leptin, which is why lower levels of estrogen and women can be problematic for their levels of leptin.
And last but certainly not least, are the hormones of the thyroid, which stimulate basal metabolic rate by increasing ATP production. It is a large contributor of fat cell mobilization, it also has a large impact on skeletal muscle. Thus total body composition.
There are two primary thyroid hormones, TroyodoSirene and pyroxene, which you might have heard abbreviated T three and T four, both of which are released from the thyroid gland in a ratio of roughly 80% T four to 20% T three and T four is the primary storage thyroid hormone.
It's converted into the active T three hormone predominantly in the liver, and unfortunately, women are more likely to suffer from hypothyroidism, compared to men.
That is when your thyroid isn't producing enough of these hormones, and women are also more likely to suffer from Hashimotos and autoimmune disease where your own immune system attacks your own thyroid gland.
It causes a lower level of T three and T four, ultimately, you want to have more conversion into the active T three form so you can see why it would be bad for these processes to decrease, which would lower metabolic rate, and sadly this is what happens while dieting.
And in regards to some of the other hormonal players in the game of fat loss. Well, I had to narrow it down to the ones I felt most relevant for this topic, or it would be like a million years long so I know you're probably also wondering about cortisol, but I'm planning to make an entire article on stress and cortisol levels so stay tuned for that, but you're probably wondering if there's anything you can actually do about any of these things, or are they just dictated upon the uncontrollable like genetics. Well, stay tuned for the next episode, like I said, where I will discuss some of the practical and actionable takeaways.
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