If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me “how do I just shift fat off my belly?” or said, “I can’t lose weight no matter what I do”.
Often people don’t consider that it’s not about how much they restrict their calories or how hard they exercise, but more about how their metabolic rate is running.
Your thyroid is the master computer behind your metabolic rate. It regulates the rate at which you burn or store fat and unfortunately it dysfunctions more than we would like. So, what is the major cause of this dysfunction?
It turns out STRESS could be the major contributor to thyroid dysfunction.
Cortisol is a life sustaining stress hormone released by your adrenal glands that helps you liberate energy when you are under threat. However, chronic uncontrolled release of cortisol may lead to many health concerns including thyroid problems and estrogen dominance.
Cortisol works on a negative feedback loop with the hypothalamus and pituitary gland in the brain. The hypothalamus signals the pituitary to tell the adrenals (HPA Axis) to release cortisol. So, when cortisol is in the blood the body tells the hypothalamus to slow down. The problem is that the Hypothalamus also controls the thyroid gland, and as it slows so does your thyroid. This makes sense because in a state of stress (cortisol) your body wants to conserve energy, so slowing your thyroid function which slows your metabolism achieves this survival mechanism.
You have two major types of thyroid hormones - T4 (inactive) and T3 (active). Your thyroid produces exclusively T4 and then your body converts it to the active T3. However, elevated cortisol reduces the enzymes responsible for this conversion. So even when your levels of TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) and T4 are normal (within range) you may still have low T3 and a slow metabolism as a result.
Reverse T3 (RT3) is the antagonist to T3. The best way to think about this relationship is T3 as the accelerator for your metabolism and RT3 is the brakes. RT3 binds to thyroid receptors on the surface of cells, preventing T3 to work. Stress increases the production of RT3 keeping the brakes on your metabolism and fat burning.
With stress comes inflammation and insulin resistance, reducing your body’s ability to use carbohydrates efficiently, leading to them storing as body fat. Inflammation also causes the release of cytokines which reduces thyroid receptor sensitivity, so any circulating free T3 can’t fully activate your metabolism.
Chronic release of cortisol leads to estrogen dominance and excess estrogen increases thyroid binding globulin (TBG). TBG is a protein that helps thyroid hormone travel through your body, however when T4 is bound to TBG it is inactive and can’t convert to Free T3.
Finally, stress can affect gut permeability causing leaky gut. Leaky gut has been linked as a cause of auto immune disease which may manifest as Hashimoto’s otherwise known as ‘thyroid auto immune disease.’ When your immune system starts attacking your thyroid gland you are sure to experience deleterious effects to your metabolism, sleep, mood, skin, hair, weight gain and overall energy and health.
No matter if it is estrogen dominance or thyroid dysfunction that is causing your health and metabolic issues, you need to start treatment by supporting three (3) areas…
So, as you can see there is a very real relationship between stress and a lowered metabolism (thyroid function) leading to body fat accumulation or an inability to burn fat no matter how hard you try. In fact, if you continue to exercise vigorously in this state of dysfunction you may cause further damage and extend recovery time.
Follow the practices and supplementation above and you will see your body’s metabolism spark back up in no time. This may help increase your energy, fat burning, mood, focus and general health while reducing your stress and hormone imbalances.
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Switch Nutrition™ Disclaimer: The above article is merely a guide and opinion. It is in no way a recommendation or a treatment protocol for any health conditions or diseases. You should always consult with a qualified health care provider before changing your supplement, training or nutritional strategy. Supplementation should only be attempted by pregnant or breastfeeding women, anyone on prescription medication or children under the age of 15 when advised and monitored by your qualified health care provider.