Despite consistent exercise and a healthy diet, the scale shows weight gain instead of loss, and stubborn belly fat remains unchanged. This could be attributed to even minor fluctuations in hormone levels, which can sometimes lead to increased abdominal fat.
Hormones are involved in numerous physiological processes such as stress, metabolism, sexual drive, and appetite. Insufficient levels of certain hormones can contribute to the accumulation of abdominal fat, commonly referred to as a hormonal belly. But how can you distinguish between normal weight gain from indulging in pizza and wine, versus a potential hormonal imbalance? Here are five symptoms that may indicate hormonal imbalances and steps to address them.
What Constitutes a Hormonal Belly?
Abdominal weight gain can be linked to various hormone-related conditions such as menopause, low testosterone (low T), hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Additionally, factors such as obesity, environmental triggers including high stress levels, exposure to chemicals, and certain medications can also contribute to hormonal imbalances.
Hormonal Belly in Males
Impact of Low Testosterone Levels
While testosterone is also produced in females, it is primarily known as the male sex hormone. Testosterone plays a crucial role in the development of typical male characteristics, such as facial and body hair, and promotes muscle growth in both men and women. However, testosterone levels decline with age, which can lead to reduced muscle growth and weight gain.
Research indicates that low testosterone levels are present in about 30% of obese men. In addition to weight gain, deficiency in testosterone can result in symptoms such as erectile dysfunction, reduced sex drive, fatigue, hair loss, loss of muscle mass, and depression.
Estrogen, a group of three hormones including Estradiol, Estrone, and Estriol, plays a crucial role in various physiological processes. In males, Estradiol is important for regulating libido, sperm production, and erectile function.
Low levels of Estrogen may result in reduced sexual desire and increased abdominal fat. On the other hand, elevated estrogen levels in men under the age of 60 can be associated with weight gain.
Signs of Hormonal Belly
Your waistline is expanding despite a healthy diet.
1.A potential sign of hormonal belly could be the sudden appearance of excess abdominal fat, seemingly overnight.
This means that an individual may notice a significant increase in abdominal fat in a relatively short period of time, without any significant changes in their diet or exercise routine. This sudden change in abdominal fat could be indicative of hormonal imbalances that affect fat metabolism and storage in the body.
2. You feel stressed all the time.
Cortisol, commonly referred to as the stress hormone, plays a significant role in hormonal belly fat. When your body senses stress or overload, cortisol levels can increase, potentially resulting in stubborn weight gain.
3. Frequent mood swings may indicate a hormone imbalance.
In men, mood swings can be a symptom of andropause, a hormonal imbalance that typically occurs between the ages of 40 and 60. In women, fluctuating estrogen levels during the pre- and postmenopausal years can also lead to mood swings and stubborn abdominal weight gain.
4. You have frequent sugar cravings.
Insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes, can also affect other important hormones in the body. High insulin levels can cause an increase in leptin, the hormone responsible for signaling fullness. However, this can result in dysfunction of leptin receptors, preventing them from sending signals to the brain to stop eating. As a result, you may continue eating without receiving the signal to stop, going against the intended function of leptin.
5. You experience constant Fatigue /Tiredness but struggle to fall asleep.
Insomnia and fatigue can be indicative of hormonal imbalances contributing to weight gain. Lack of sleep can lead to exhaustion, stress, and insomnia, which can disrupt hormone levels, particularly cortisol. High cortisol levels can impact thyroid function, leading to lower thyroid levels and central weight gain. Additionally, growth hormones, which are vital for tissue formation, muscle growth, and overall health, can be decreased.
How to Get Rid of Hormonal Belly
For Men, testosterone supplements may be prescribed by a doctor. It’s important to seek a comprehensive consultation and blood test from a hormone specialist who can create a personalized treatment plan.
In Women, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which may include estrogen therapy or estrogen-progesterone/progestin hormone therapy (EPT), can be used to target hormonal belly. Studies suggest that postmenopausal women on HRT may have lower levels of abdominal fat compared to those who are not on HRT.
Treatment options for both men and women may include patches, tablets, gels, injections, or implants.
In addition to medications, a doctor may also recommend dietary and lifestyle adjustments, such as increased exercise and a lower-calorie diet. You can focus on aspects of your life that you have control over, such as your food and exercise routine. Incorporating plenty of vegetables, complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats into your meals can help you feel fuller and satisfy your hunger, while also providing essential nutrients to prevent age-related insulin resistance and muscle loss.
If you have inquiries about hormonal belly or any of the conditions mentioned, seeking guidance from a doctor in a discreet setting is now more accessible than ever.
At Park Endocrinology, our doctors collaborate with patients to create customized treatment plans that take into account their medical history, lifestyle, symptom severity, and risk factors for other health conditions.
Patients seeking treatment for weight loss can contact us to schedule an appointment with our physicians.
Ph # +91-888-566-0011