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Debunking the Myth That Estradiol Causes Weight Gain

Is there a stubborn muffin top that seems to have appeared out of nowhere since hitting menopause. Its frustrating right? Let’s take a moment to see why this is happening and why taking hormone replacement therapy won’t make it worse.  As we gracefully age, our metabolism changes and our bodies have a tendency to store more fat around the midsection. This drop in metabolism comes with a drop in estrogen and progesterone.  Both hormones have been shown by researchers to help women maintain a healthy weight. 


“Estradiol has often been unfairly associated with weight gain. This widespread belief is likely from women’s past experiences of taking birth control and gaining weight from it.”  -- Sarah Daccarett, MD 


Oral contraceptives are made from synthetic hormones and work to stop ovulation in a woman. When you stop ovulation, you stop the production of estrogen and progesterone and this alone can cause women to gain weight.  Naturally, this leads women to be concerned regarding the use of hormone replacement therapy and weight gain.  Here, we examine the evidence and shed light on the complex relationship between estradiol and body weight. 


Multiple scientific studies have examined the association between estradiol and body weight. The prevailing evidence indicates that estradiol doesn’t lead to weight gain.  In fact, some studies show that estradiol may have a protective effect against weight gain.  Hormone replacement therapy has been extensively studied for its effects on weight. The research consistently shows that HRT doesn’t lead to weight gain.  In some cases, it has even been associated with weight loss or preventing weight gain.  


How does estrogen boost weight loss?

Estrogen is known to metabolism and improve body composition.  It helps women maintain lean muscle mass and burn more calories. It also helps suppress appetite. Here are some ways in which estrogen helps with appetite regulation:


1. Brain Centers:  Estrogen works synergistically with GLP-1 to suppress appetite and help you feel more full.

2. Leptin Sensitivity:  Estrogen increases cell sensitivity to Leptin.  Leptin is a hormone released by fat cells and they help to dampen hunger signals and promote feelings of satiety.

3. Serotonin Levels:  Estrogen can increase serotonin levels in the brain, which can contribute to feelings of fullness and satisfaction after eating.

4. Ghrelin Regulation:  Estrogen appears to lower ghrelin levels.  Ghrelin stimulates appetite and by blunting its effect, estrogen helps curb excessive food intake.

5. Emotional Eating:  Estrogen has been associated with a positive mood and improved emotional well-being, which can help reduce the likelihood of engaging in emotional eating behaviors.


There are many other ways that estrogen can contribute to weight loss as well:


  • Estrogen and progesterone help women maintain a healthy higher metabolic rate and facilitate weight management. 


  • Estrogen encourages more subcutaneous fat and less visceral fat, which is the fat that surrounds organs. Visceral fat is considered the “dangerous fat” and raises a woman’s risk of heart disease significantly. 


  • Estrogen preserves lean body mass, including muscle mass.


  • Estrogen improves insulin sensitivity. Insulin resistance is linked to weight gain.  By enhancing insulin sensitivity, estrogen can support healthy glucose metabolism and potentially aid in weight management. 


  • Estrogen works synergistically with GLP-1 to enhance glucose control and weight loss. 


How Can Inner Balance Support Your Weight Loss Goals?


Estrogen is mostly likely necessary for weight loss and maintenance.  However, like anything for weight loss, if it is used alone it is not a magic solution.  It is one critical piece of the puzzle in a comprehensive approach to a weight loss. At Inner Balance, we believe that hormone replacement therapy can facilitate healthy appetite control, and improve metabolic health and flexibility -- therefore supporting women in managing their weight and potentially boosting weight loss.


You are not alone in this muffin top struggle. Embrace you body, cherish your strengths, celebrate the incredible woman you are.  You don’t need more self-control to lose weight.  You need the necessary biological support first so that your body can start working with you instead of against you. 


“This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.”

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