What do you know about body fat? Lose weight or gain weight?

When we say fat, one might instantly think of obesity. What is fat? Fat is one of the basic components that make up the structure of the body. It is necessary for normal, healthy body functioning. Body fat can be divided into two types: essential fat and storage fat. Essential fat is necessary for normal, healthy functioning. In men, essential fat is approximately 3% of body weight, while in women it is about 12%. This also depends on age. With increased age, the essential body fat increased. Storage fat is the fat increased when you gain weight and this is the fat that you want to lose when you lose weight. Most of people know that too much fat is not healthy. Too much fat increases your risk for developing heart disease, high blood pressure, gallstones, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, certain cancers and for an early death increases.

Do you know too little fat is not healthy either. If a man’s body fat is too low, his health may be compromised and he may become more vulnerable to illness or experience chronic fatigue. If a woman's body fat is too low, her periods may stop and she may experience infertility. Or the other way around if a woman’s periods stops she may have low body fat. Also if a woman’s body fat is too low, the health of her bones, normal hormonal function may be compromised and she may have osteoporosis.

Amenorrhoea is the absence of menstrual periods. Women who are athletes or who exercise excessively on a regular basis are at risk of developing athletic amenorrhoea.

Low levels of body fat and exercise-related hormones, such as beta endorphins and catecholamines, are thought to interfere with the functioning of the sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone. If left untreated, long-term complications include increased risk of broken bones and premature ageing.

For a doctor to diagnose athletic amenorrhoea, all other possible causes, such as certain reproductive disorders, must first be eliminated. Treatment options include exercising less or, in some cases, starting hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

The long-term complications of untreated athletic amenorrhoea include:

Infertility – a woman can’t conceive when she is amenorrhoeic, but athletic amenorrhoea has no effect on long-term fertility once menstruation returns.

High levels of blood cholesterol – are caused by an oestrogen-related fall in the ratio of good cholesterol (high-density lipoprotein or HDL) to bad cholesterol (low-density lipoprotein or LDL).

Osteoporosis – is a disease characterised by brittle bones that break easily.

Premature ageing – the skin loses its elasticity due to low levels of oestrogen.

Unwanted gaining weight, which hormones to check?

If you gain weight unexpectedly and have trouble to lose the weight, you need to get your hormones checked. Imbalanced hormones can make you put on weight. Which hormones do you need to check?

First , thyroid hormones. If your thyroid function is low and you don’t produce enough thyroid hormones, you can put on weight. Thyroid hormone regulates the rate of the metabolism in your body. If it does not work well, you will likely become fat and have low energy. You may have other symptoms of low thyroid including weakness, cold hands or feet, constipation, low immunity and brittle hair.

Second, insulin. Insulin is produced in pancreas and it is a fat-storing hormone released in response to excess blood sugar. If you have insulin resistance, which means that insulin isn't working very well in your body, this leads to weight gain. Apart from weight gain, other symptoms of insulin resistance include excess thirst and urination, hunger and sugar craving, fatigue and poor circulation, cold hands and feet, poor immunity, poor thyroid function, PCOS, heart and liver problem etc. Improving
your insulin response is a great way to reduce body fat, improve energy and overall health.

Third, Cortisol. Cortisol, called stress hormone is produced in adrenal gland. High or low level of cortisol can cause weight gain. High cortisol levels will lead to fat gain around the belly. Low cortisol levels caused by adrenal fatigue will cause weight gain as well. Other symptoms of adrenal fatigue include bloating, fatigue, sleep disturbances, salt cravings.

Finally, Estrogen and others. Estrogen is stored in fat. Excess estrogen stresses the adrenal glands and binds up thyroid hormone, making weight loss very difficult, especially in the hips and thighs.

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