You may be aware that unexplained changes in mood, energy, and sleep could be signs of a hormonal imbalance. But did you know that hormones also determine your body shape?
Hormones are powerful things and when they are imbalanced they can affect not only our health, but they can also determine our body type.
There are four body shapes that are determined by the activity of our hormones. These shapes are the adrenal shape, the thyroid shape, the ovary shape, and the liver shape.
Having an adrenal shape means a build-up of fat around the midsection. This is because of the cortisol levels that are released when adrenal hormones are imbalanced.
“When too much stress builds up, your fight-or-flight response kicks in, triggering the hormone cortisol to build up fat around your most vital organs — which are located in your midsection,” said Chiropractor Eric Berg, author of The 7 Principles of Fat Burning.
As Berg explains, chronic stress can lead to weight gain. He says that cutting calories and pushing yourself to do exhausting workouts taxes the body instead of leading to a reduction in weight.
“This is why hundreds of sit-ups every day will never give someone with the adrenal shape that flat stomach they desire,” said Berg. “These types tend to be edgy and irritable, and oftentimes, others get on their nerves.”
Because the thyroid regulates hormones that directly affect the metabolism of all the cells, people with this shape gain weight all over.
“Hence, thyroid types tend to get big all over, not in just one place,” said Berg. “Many thyroid body types are triggered by the hormone estrogen. As estrogen becomes dominant, your thyroid slows down and over time, can become sluggish.”
People with thyroid hormone issues also tend to suffer from saggy skin on the underside of the arms, ridged nails, hair loss, and thinning outer eyebrows.
“Thyroid types also tend to reach for simple carbs, such as bread, for quick energy to rev their sluggish metabolism,” explained Berg.
People with this body shape experience weight gain in the low stomach pooch area and saddlebags. Hormone imbalances of estrogen are responsible for this shape, and sometimes people flip between this and the thyroid shape.
“Many ovary body types turn into thyroid types after pregnancy due to the spike in estrogen, especially if the woman develops a thyroid problem during or shortly after having the baby,” said Berg.
These women often suffer from acne, facial hair, and very heavy periods, along with PMS, bloating, and headaches.
The liver shape is usually recognizable by a protruding belly and thin legs. The large belly may make people appear overweight, when in reality it is mostly fluid in the tummy.
“These types have a condition called ascites, which is essentially the liver leaking a plasma-like fluid into the sac that sits just above our intestines,” Berg said.
Unlike people with balanced hormones and good health, liver types wake up with low levels of blood sugar and feeling irritable. They are prone to have gas and heartburn after eating because their digestive juices are sluggish.
“This means food is not broken down thoroughly, and if bile isn’t released, the person will feel unsatisfied and crave quick carb energy,” said Berg.
Hormone imbalances can happen for many reasons, such as menopause, thyroid disorders, and adrenal fatigue.
“Women can be, and many are, greatly affected by hormone fluctuations. Sometimes it gets to the point of feeling totally overwhelmed — as if for a time they have lost control of their life,” said Christiane Northrup, M.D., author of The Wisdom of Menopause and Women’s Bodies Women’s Wisdom.
Causes of hormonal imbalance
Usually hormonal imbalances are caused by one or more of a handful of factors:
- Extreme or prolonged periods of stress
- Poor dietary choices and lack of proper nutrition
- Failure to get adequate sleep
- Taking synthetic hormones or medications that affect hormones
- Living a sedentary lifestyle with little physical activity
It is never a good idea to play a guessing game with your health. If you suffer from these symptoms, it is a good idea to have your physician check if your hormones are out of balance. By correcting hormonal issues, you can burn the excess body fat and improve your health.