The seven main metabolic hormones include insulin, thyroid, cortisol, DHEA, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Hormones signal when the body should burn fat for fuel to create energy and when it should store fat in case of an emergency. All seven hormones need to be in balance for our stored fat to receive the proper signals.
Your thyroid is a great place to start. Thyroid hormones determine the rate at which fuel is burned in your body. Not enough and your body will retain fat, too much and you will unexpectedly lose weight.
Insulin's job is to turn sugar into energy. It either uses the energy right away or stores the sugar in the body for later use. If you have an overabundance of sugar in your diet, your body will store it as fat. You can combat this by either reducing the amount of sugar you eat (including simple carbohydrates and processed sugars) or by using more energy.
Cortisol, DHEA, and our sex hormones are all produced in our adrenal glands. Our adrenals respond to stress and are triggered by our "fight or flight" response. In a life-threatening situation, stress provides us with a rush of energy. However, once the stressful situation has passed, we are left feeling tired, hungry, and possibly even more stressed than before. This prompts us to reach for a quick fix; most likely a sugary snack or bowl of carbohydrates.
Estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone come second to the more essential insulin and cortisol hormones. If the body's hormones are out of balance, these "secondary" hormones will not produce at healthy rates. Low estrogen can affect your mood; low progesterone can result in a heavy period and increased appetite; low testosterone can increase your fat retention, directly causing weight gain.
Getting in touch with what your body is telling you can be complicated, but balanced hormones are vital for a healthy weight. Look closely at your eating habits, mood, stress levels, and sex life for clues about which hormone may be out of balance for you.
Balancing your hormones will look different for everyone. Some hormone imbalances are easy to see from the outside. Other hormonal imbalances require blood tests and medication to treat properly. Regardless, if you think something is off, consult with your medical practitioner.