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The connection between progesterone and weight loss is that it helps people to both maintain a healthy body weight and avoid weight gain by limiting the production of excess fat, and may also reducing food cravings caused by hormonal imbalance. Progesterone, which is a natural human hormone, typically increases a person’s metabolism, lowers active insulin levels, and helps the thyroid to function more efficiently. All of this can help facilitate weight loss under the right conditions. The hormone is not usually prescribed specifically for weight issues, though; most of the time these consequences are just side effects. People should usually be careful taking this or any hormone without talking to a medical provider about all of the risks and benefits. In most cases there are safer and more effective ways to lose weight if this is a person’s primary goal.
Both men and women usually produce some progesterone naturally, though it is usually highest in women during menstruation and pregnancy. It’s also a common addition to many hormone replacement therapies, particularly those designed for menopausal women. People can often increase their progesterone intake or production naturally by eating foods, particularly dairy products, that contain it, but the most common means of introducing it is through pharmaceutical capsule or injection. Chemists can and often do recreate this and other hormones synthetically.
Hormone Balancing Issues
Healthcare providers most commonly prescribe progesterone for people whose natural hormone levels are in a state of flux and variance, often as a result of menopause or other reproductive issue. Imbalanced hormones can make it extremely difficult to lose weight. Over time, restored progesterone levels usually help people shed excess pounds and stay at a healthy size.
Somewhat confusingly, however, the hormone may actually cause temporary weight gain when it’s first introduced, particularly if it’s coming in large quantities. Once the body adjusts to higher levels of progesterone, the individual’s weight should normalize and will often even drop below where it was before hormone therapy began. Many people are not aware that there is a connection between progesterone and weight loss because they are alarmed by that initial gain and do not continue to use the hormone long enough to see its benefits.
Relationship With Estrogen
One of the best ways to understand the connection between progesterone and weight loss is to look at the role of estrogen, another hormone. Women produce the most estrogen, but it’s also present in men in smaller quantities. Under ideal circumstances these two hormones work together, but in the case of an imbalance estrogen levels may surge; when this happens, people often begin to grow heavier. Excessive estrogen turns calories into fat. Reintroducing progesterone can counteract the dominance of estrogen in the body, but this is why people often see gain at first: in most cases the progesterone has to focus on neutralizing the excess estrogen which is fighting for dominance in the body before it can work on stabilizing metabolism and energy efficiency.
Fluid Retention and Thyroid Function
The hormone’s diuretic effects also help it to relieve fluid retention, which often causes bloating and swelling. Supplemental progesterone burns fat by increasing metabolism so that the body can more effectively turn it into energy. Low progesterone can impede proper functioning of the thyroid, as well, which regulates metabolism in the body. It also increases the amount of insulin, a hormone essential to carbohydrate and fat metabolism; this can cause sugar cravings and subsequent weight gain. Excess insulin causes the body to create and store more fat than is necessary, too.
Risks and Warnings
Hormone therapies are usually somewhat serious, and medical experts don’t typically recommend them lightly. People who need them are usually suffering from a range of other problems more serious than weight gain. Slimming down is often a happy side effect for patients, but isn’t usually a reason to begin therapy in the first place. There are usually many other safer weight loss programs that don’t directly interfere with the body’s hormonal chemistry.