Our body shape says more about our internal constitution than we might think. We finally get used to our body shape and then a major change appears in our lives. We might gain weight or even lose weight but our body seems to reshape itself and redistribute its fat, making us unhappy with the result most of the time.
Let’s find out what hormones affect our body shape with regard to weight gain or weight loss.
Do hormones determine your body type?
Hormones are critical agents. They help us keep stress and excess body fat at bay. Depending on which hormones are leading (thyroid hormones, stress hormones, estrogen), different body shapes will be the result.
Hormonal imbalances are usually responsible for unflattering body shapes.
Let’s look at the different body types and how hormone levels can influence hormone-driven body types.
What your body shape says about your hormones
To a certain extent, your body composition depends mainly on genetics and metabolism. It’s also true that your lifestyle, the food you consume, the exercise you do and the amount and frequency of the stress hormones in your system will help determine your body shape.
Let’s look at how imbalances of various hormones can affect your body shape.
The hormone estrogen plays a pivotal role in a woman’s life. It not only affects the different stages of the menstrual cycle but the many different stages a woman goes through in her life are also determined by the amount of estrogen released. Estrogen has a lot to do with the way in which women’ bodies store fat.
Before adolescence, girls and boys have very similar body shapes. Fat storage happens in a very similar pattern. When puberty hits, there is an increase in estrogen levels. The release of estrogen triggers the accumulation and storage of fat in the body .
When a woman begins to menstruate, her fat storage will accumulate on her bottom, hips, breasts and thighs, giving her the typical feminine hourglass shape.
Research has shown that when estrogen begins its natural decay, during menopause, the fat storage is also rearranged, adapting the body for what’s to come. A woman’s body will no longer need to gestate or raise children so her body shape will change and adapt to her current needs.
When estrogen is the leading hormone, the woman tends to be very emotional and ‘teary’. She usually has heavy or painful menstrual cycles. Too much estrogen will most likely manifest itself in sore breasts, fatigue and low energy levels around the time of her periods. Estrogen body types will struggle to lose weight and when they manage to lose some weight, they’ll usually regain it at a faster rate than they lost it.
A body type led by estrogen is also known as an ovary body type. Many ovary body types might struggle with weight gain and could suffer heavy periods.
Estrogens act as a protector of your vital organs which means that excessive estrogen might not give you the most flattering shape; it will, however, add an extra layer of protection for most vital organs.
The liver is a key organ in our metabolic function. It interacts with the intestinal tract and fatty tissue and has a significant role in metabolizing fats.
Our bodies use up healthy fats first. Any excess fat (healthy or unhealthy) will be processed in the liver and then it will be stored.
When there’s a liver imbalance, fat storage happens in the central part of the body. Women with this body shape usually have very thin arms and legs and a fat stomach or belly, as that’s almost the only area where fat is stored. These body types can have a condition called ‘ascites’ where plasma-like fluid leaks into the abdominal space causing fluid retention in that area. People with ascites usually have low overall body fat.
If you have this body shape, you might feel sluggish, especially in the mornings, and you tend to wake up between 2 and 4 a.m. It’s also very likely that you have a liver imbalance.
Contact your health care professional who will be able to help you regain good health in no time.
Once the liver imbalance is restored, the body shape will quickly change and you will be storing fat in the right places. You might even regain the flat stomach you once had.
Altered thyroid function
The thyroid function is key to hormonal balance. Your body type will show whether you have a normal thyroid function or an underactive or overactive thyroid function.
A thyroid body type will be characterized by weight gain, especially around the middle of the body. Thyroid disorders will make your face look puffy and your hair might thin to the point of excessive fragility, split ends and even hair loss.
Other symptoms that show a thyroid malfunction are extreme fatigue and tiredness.
You might feel inexplicably tired, you struggle to lose weight and you cannot achieve low body fat despite your best efforts to lose weight.
Sometimes a thyroid problem is not about gaining weight. The scales might actually show a healthy weight but your body shape – typical of thyroid body types – doesn’t shout ‘healthy’ when you look in the mirror.
Estrogen tends to interfere with other hormones and therefore, as your estrogen levels rise, your thyroid slows down. Postpartum stubborn baby weight is often a consequence of too much estrogen, which might trigger an over or under-functioning of the thyroid gland.
The stress hormone cortisol is responsible for behavior during a stressful event. When you experience too much stress (physical or emotional stress), your body enters into a ‘fight or flight response’. That means the adrenal glands will release stress hormones in high quantities because your body’s main function at that moment is to get itself out of danger.
The body knows perfectly well how to respond in a stressful situation. The problem arises when the stressor agent isn’t one that warns of immediate danger warning but becomes more permanent. As a result, the body gets used to this stress hormone and the adrenal body type appears.
In this state, your digestive system doesn’t get all the possible help it needs to digest food correctly. Your body is in permanent ‘fight or flight mode’ and your immune system starts to become compromised, due to a sluggish metabolism.
As a consequence weight gain appears all over your body, and your body shape begins to transform, adapting to survival in a hostile, stressful environment.
You might start to develop a ‘buffalo hump’ (patch of fluid at the back of the neck) or gain weight rapidly. You might experience hair thinning, followed by hair loss, red cheeks and a puffy face.
The adrenal body type stores fat in the center of the body, mainly around the waist and belly, and has characteristically thin legs and arms.
This body type is also associated with poor sleep patterns, so you might keep waking throughout the night. You could experience generalised aches and pains, brain fog, forgetfulness and low energy levels all day long.
You might also crave quick carb energy, as all your cells are stressed and need energy fast. This easy sugar fix will provide sugars quickly while ignoring more suitable nutrients, turning them into storage fat.
Body shape and hair
Your body hair will reflect your hormonal balance. You might realize your hair is thinning or you start to see hair where you didn’t have it before – for example, on your face, around your nipples, or on your belly.
If these changes in your body hair are accompanied by weight gain, you most likely have a hormonal imbalance.
Research shows that women can develop facial hair due to hormonal imbalances. Although it is usually due to too much androgen, there can be several other causes that trigger the condition. You might be running on low blood sugar and therefore could develop insulin resistance.
You might have adrenal fatigue or there could be an imbalance of your growth hormone. As well as that, there might be stubborn weight that keeps hanging on to your bones and your protruding belly starts to look like a beer belly, despite all your efforts to build muscle and get rid of it. Changing your round shape seems like ‘mission impossible’ at this stage.
How can my hormone type lose weight?
If you have come to this article because, despite all your efforts, diets and strenuous exercise, there’s been little weight loss, you must find out exactly where your hormonal imbalance is.
We’ve covered several different body types but that, by no means, can substitute for professional advice.
Your healthcare provider should be able to help you design a weight loss plan for your body type. For this, it’s necessary first to check for any imbalances. Your provider should run blood tests to determine your hormone levels before working out what steps are necessary to regain a healthy body shape.
Charting your menstrual cycle
Getting to know how your body functions is very important. It’s especially useful to be able to perceive imbalances before they make you ill.
Your menstrual cycle is the result of many hormones working together so your body functions as it should.
Understanding which hormones are leading in each of the menstrual phases will be key to regaining good health.
It’s usually when the hormonal balance is lost that changes in your menstrual periods will begin to show.
Charting your cycles is an easy way to start to understand how your femininity works.
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