Body Fat Distribution and Hormones

Where you store bodyfat and how much you store there isn’t just by chance.

 

It is controlled my certain mechanisms; primarily hormones. Hormones are your body’s chemical messengers. They are signals for glands and tissues  to do their work and they work in a system and not in isolation.

In the case of body fat distribution, certain hormones will interact with cells and tell them not only where but how much fat to store.

Women typically store more fat around the hips, thighs, buttocks, triceps (back of arms) and chest area (note: breast tissue is significantly composed of fat).High lower body (hips, thighs, buttocks,) fat measurements; indicate high amounts of so-called Alpha-2-receptors, (more common in women) plus high levels of oestrogen.

It is recognised that a woman’s body shape and body fat distribution pattern will significantly change after menopause due to the change in their hormone levels. Post-menopausal women will notice less fat distribution to the hips, thighs and buttocks and more centralised (mid-section) body fat.

The Effect Hormone Levels on Body Fat Distribution

HIGH INSULIN

Caused by:

  • Eating too much over-processed, nutrient deficient carbohydrates – sugary foods, fast food,  fizzy drinks, fruit drinks, refined grain products (e.g. baked products), processed diet foods
  • Eating too little protein
  • Eating too little fat (particularly “good fats” like Omega 3’s)
  • Eating too much trans and hydrogenated fats (as they mess with cell interactions)
  • Not enough fibre in your diet – no need for supplements, you should get enough protein from fruit & veg
  • Not enough exercise
  • Poor liver function (for example due to heavy alcohol consumption)
  • Excessive exercise to the point of muscle wasting
  • Steroid based medications
  • Unmanaged high levels of chronic stress
  • Poor sleep patterns

Solutions

  • Reducing sugars and refined carbohydrate
  • Increased consumption of fibre through consumption of non-starch vegetables
  • Increased consumption “good fats” for example fish oils
  • Weight loss
  • Regular exercise
  • Good sleep

 HIGH TESTOSTERONE

(Said to affect about 10%+ of women)

Caused by:

  • Increased testosterone production by the adrenal glands
  • Low Oestrogen. Ostrogen is a potent inhibitor of testosterone production, so anything that decreases oestrogen levels beyond the norm is going to increase the testosterone to oestrogen balance
  • Polycystic ovaries caused by Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (said to affect 1 in 5 women to some degree)

Solutions

  • Stress management = lowered cortisol = reduction in adrenal gland output
  • Insulin control
  • Oestrogen replacement – bio-identical or conventional……talk to your doctor
  • Get your hormone levels checked

 HIGH OESTROGEN or OESTROGEN DOMINANCE

Caused by:

  • Low levels of the hormone Progesterone
  • Unmanaged high levels of chronic stress
  • Obesity – obesity causes high oestrogen which further causes increase in obesity
  • Poor diet – processed foods, a high fat diet, a high sugar diet, excessive caffeine, low levels of  Zinc, Magnesium and Vitamin B6
  • Exposure to hormones and hormone mimicking compounds used in non-organic meat and poultry production.
  • Xenoestrogens (commonly found in petroleum based products like soaps, cosmetics and plastics)
  • Some birth control pills
  • Impaired liver function
  • Excess alcohol consumption
  • Lack of sleep
  • High fat percentages to hips, thighs, buttocks due to high numbers of “Alpha 2 Receptors”
  • Lack of exercise
  • Over-exercise (particularly aerobic exercise)

Solutions

  • Stress management
  • Improve your diet – High protein, moderated carbs, cruciferous vegetables (cabbage family), good fats
  • Reduce your exposure to hormones,  Xenoestrogens and Phytoestogens
  • Improve liver function – talk to your naturopath
  • Get more sleep
  • Exercise more (particularly HIIT & resistance training)
  • Pharmaceutical/ Supplementation – Progesterone or Testosterone boosting or  Estrogen blocking – talk to your doctor

HIGH CORTISOL

Caused by:

  • Unmanaged levels of chronic stress. The problems begin when we can’t handle the stresses that are thrown our way. That is when stress starts negatively impacting our health. Chronic elevated levels of cortisol is just one symptom of that impact.
  • Malnutrition- poor diet
  • Chronically high levels of stimulants in diet (e.g. nicotine and caffeine)
  • Over exercise
  • Poor/ insufficient sleep

Solutions

  • Stress management
  • Better sleep
  • Eliminate intake of stimulants such as caffeine, nicotine and recreational drugs
  • Increase of lean protein, non-starch vegetables and Omega 3 fats
  • Reduce exercise if excessively high and increase if excessively low
  • Take a B Vitamin Complex supplement.

LOW GROWTH HORMONE

Caused by:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Lack of exercise (particularly high intensity interval and resistance exercise)
  • Excessive amounts of long duration aerobic exercise
  • Eating large volumes of carbohydrates before bed time (particularly refined)
  • Lack of sleep

Solutions

  • Don’t eat before bed
  • Sleep in the dark
  • High Intensity exercise – low intensity exercise has little effect
  • Intense weight/ resistance training

 LOW DHEA

Caused by:

  • Aging
  • Unmanaged high levels of chronic stress

Solutions

  • DHEA supplements
  • Other supplements – Zinc, magnesium, b vitamins, Omega 3’s
  • Stress management
  • Insulin controlled diet
  • Reduce intake of stimulants
  • Boosting Androgens through Challenging Resistance Exercise (weight training)

 

LOW PROGESTERONE

Caused by:

  • Lack of ovulation
  • Unmanaged levels of chronic stress
  • Low levels of Luteinizing hormone
  • Underactive thyroid (Hypothyroidism)
  • Excess Prolactin

Solutions

  • Talk to your doctor
  • Stress management
13th September, 2018