Following my post series on other hormones related to weight management, the main interest of estrogen in women is basically on how it changes while we age (and more specifically when we enter menopause) and makes it easier to gain weight and therefore more difficult to lose weight. In women, estrogen changes from one type to another: From the youth-type estradiol, which helps us to keep our burning metabolism high and our fat storages under control, to the estrone form, which not only does exactly the opposite, but also moves our fat to our belly, the worst type of fat. It is believed that during menopause, the impaired estrogen signals may be the cause of the menopause weight gain. Progesterone also drops, losing its metabolic burning help.
Testosterone—essential for men and women—is also a youth hormone, so we have less and less available while aging. Testosterone helps to build muscle and to burn fat, so when we are adding years to our backs, we not only add fat—especially abdominal fat—but also lose muscular mass. It will then be appropriate to exercise more to compensate the decrease in hormonal activity. But to make things worse, not only do our libidos slip as a consequence of less testosterone but our motivation to exercise does too—a pain as exercise stimulates testosterone production! This is another of the “funny” cycles we have been seeing.
To make things worse as we gain more weight, testosterone is converted to estrogen, the fattening one, which leads us to more fat, which leads to more estrogen…see the pattern?
Aging, for men and women, doesn’t work in our favor when dealing with hormones and weight management, but our brain is. We have more experience and we know our body, our reactions to food, and how we react under stressful situations, etc. We need to make our brain and all our knowledge (including our diet) work in our favor to be able to compensate the hormonal imbalance consequence of aging processes. By making all other factors related to weight management work in our favor, we will be able to have our weight under control better. It doesn’t come easy; we need to be there always paying attention and we need to keep exercising no matter if we think we are getting old. It might require more persistence than when we were younger!