It’s that time of the year again – the holidays coming up, the weather getting cooler, family gatherings and our good intentions for the upcoming New Year. I think that part of the problem with regard to shedding pounds is that many people have to contend with two factors that provide negative reinforcement – one, whatever they are doing is not working, or two, that they do achieve some weight loss, but as soon as they stop what they are doing, it comes right back on.
Here’s the really unfair part: sleep problems, menopause, and perimenopause go hand in hand. This could be one of the reasons so many women start to see sudden weight gain in perimenopause.
With your hormones affecting your sleep and your sleep affecting your hormones, it can feel like an impossible battle to win. With perimenopause night sweats and waking up in a panic thanks to 3 am cortisol spikes, how are you supposed to make peace with your hormones and sleep? How are you supposed to stave off weight gain that starts in perimenopause?
Those people who know my philosophy about approaching problems are aware that I feel that it does not matter what the problem is, the most effective way to deal with it is to treat the cause of the problem.
Conditions felt to be incurable can be eliminated, simply by treating the cause.
With regard to weight, there is often a hormone imbalance. It might be a low level of thyroid – the hormone that controls metabolism in every cell of the body, or excess estrogen - a hormone that puts on fat around the hips, thighs, and buttocks, or too much insulin – the hormone that puts on weight around the middle, or too little leptin – the hormone that controls appetite.
However, I suspect that all these hormonal issues are insignificant causes of weight gain compared to the hormonal effects of excess adrenaline. As most people are aware, adrenaline is known as “the fight-or-flight” hormone. Certainly, an important function, but unless a person lives in a war zone, it is rarely needed for that purpose. Adrenaline has another extremely important function in the body that is not generally appreciated. This particular function is to always make sure that the brain has fuel to function. In essence, this is a survival mechanism at times. When the brain becomes low in fuel, it causes a person to be sleepy. They call this hypoglycemia, and it frequently occurs between 3-4 pm when insulin levels are the highest.
Unless people are not eating in a way to provide fuel for the brain, the adrenal glands will release adrenaline to raise glucose (sugar) levels to provide the fuel. This is done via a process called gluconeogenesis. Not surprisingly, adrenaline levels are highest around 2:30 am, a time that the brain has been without fuel for quite a while. The release of this powerful hormone can cause insomnia, an urge to urinate, RLS, etc., but also stress for the body. The body responds to this by releasing cortisol to deal with the stress. The first thing cortisol does is to raise glucose levels via a process called glycogenolysis. So now, while people are sleeping, or trying to, the body has released two hormones that raise sugar levels.
The thing about glucose is that it does not matter if you are eating it or if the body is making it, if you do not burn it up, the body will store it as fat in your fat cells. People are creating fat while sleeping. Which is why they can diet and exercise during the day and create fat at night preventing weight loss.
SInce hormones control every system in the body, and they certainly have a significant impact on a person’s weight. As a brief summary of what these hormones are, consider the following:
Thyroid controls metabolism in every cell of the body, and a low level can contribute to fat deposition all over the body. Cracked heels, poor nails, and a body temperature of 97 or below are suggestive signs of a low thyroid level.
Excess levels of estrogen can lead to increased fat around the hips, thighs, and buttocks. An increase in insulin puts on fat around the middle.
Leptin is a hormone produced by fat cells that helps to curb our appetite. Using MCT oil can increase leptin levels and help with weight loss. Ghrelin is a hormone produced by intestinal cells that increases our appetite. Obviously, the less ghrelin you have, the easier it is to lose weight. Meals that are high in protein and fat, and low in carbs produce the least amount of ghrelin, and allow you to go longer periods without hunger.
Which now leaves us with the two hormones that have the most significant impact on our weight. Most people are aware of the influence that cortisol has on increasing weight. It is fairly well known that the body releases cortisol in response to stress. We are subjected to stress throughout the day, and we can also be subjected to stress while we are sleeping or trying to sleep. When exposed to stress, the body releases cortisol to help mitigate it. The initial response of cortisol is to raise sugar levels (glucose) via a process called glycogenolysis. In this situation, glycogen stored in the liver is converted into glucose.
As stated above, this hormone is released in large amounts when we are in danger. However, if danger was the primary cause for the release of adrenaline, believe me, there would be a lot fewer people fighting weight issues. In actuality, the primary function of adrenaline is to make sure that the brain has enough sugar (glucose) to function. Most people are unaware that the brain utilizes more sugar per weight than any other area of the body. Anytime the body detects that the brain is low in fuel, it automatically releases adrenaline to raise glucose levels via a process called gluconeogenesis - the conversion of protein into sugar. It is the release of adrenaline that is the cause of stress which in turn leads to the release of cortisol.
It is easy to appreciate how the stress we get exposed to during the day can create large amounts of sugar due to the action of adrenaline and cortisol, but this is compounded significantly at night when a person is sleeping, or trying to sleep. Adrenaline reaches its highest level around 2:30 am, which is the time the brain runs out of fuel. The release of adrenaline creates stress to the body, which then releases cortisol to deal with the stress. The thing about sugar is that it does not matter whether you are eating it, or whether the body is producing it, if it is not burnt up then the body stores the sugar in fat cells where it is converted into fat. So here is a situation where the body is producing two hormones that create sugar while a person is sleeping. I strongly suspect that this is the number one formula for creating fat.
Let us help you. We specialize in the management of hormone balancing and managing excess adrenaline.
Download our Free Guide to Managing Adrenaline here.
Download our Free HRT Guide here.Dr. Michael E. Platt has been a pioneer in the research and advancement of the therapeutic use of progesterone cream for use in managing adrenaline and hormonal imbalance. Dr. Platt is considered an important pioneer in observational, functional, alternative, and allopathic medicine focused on bio-identical hormones and adrenaline overload. His three books “The Miracle of Bioidentical Hormones”, “Adrenaline Dominance” and “Platt Protocol” have received 11 literary awards.