Metabolism Busters

“Can you please check my thyroid?   I get asked this question every day.  And yes your thyroid is important for proper metabolism, but so is your adrenal gland, your sex hormone balance, the amount of inflammation in your body, the number of hours you sleep, and the amount of stress in your life – just to name a few.   Checking only your thyroid is like taking a poorly running car to the mechanic and only checking the oil.  The human body is far more complicated than any automobile, and achieving your weight loss goals will require all of your “systems” to be running as effectively as possible.

Let’s look at some common system malfunctions that can keep you from losing weight.

Woman Using Mobile Phone While Looking At Broken Down Car


Before we talk about insomnia, let’s define good sleep.

  • *You fall asleep in less than 30 minutes.
  • *You are on the pillow for 7 hours per night.
  • * 85% of those hours are sleeping.
  • * When you do wake up in the night, you are back to sleep in under 20 minutes
  • *You feel relatively well-rested when you wake up.

Poor sleep and insomnia affect nearly 30% of Americans.

  • *You have difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, and/or poor quality of sleep
  • *Sleep difficulty occurs even though you have adequate opportunities for sleep.
  • *Sleep loss has occurred for at least a month and at least three times a week.

Many factors can cause poor sleep.   We live in a society where multi-tasking is the norm, our worth is measured by our productivity, and we feel guilty about self-care.  All of these stressors lead to a brain that is hyperactive and has trouble settling down.  Being overweight increases the incidence of sleep apnea.  Chronic pain from arthritis or other health conditions keeps us awake and alert.  The hormonal imbalance of peri-menopause affects our temperature regulation and our circadian rhythm.  Any of these conditions (and many more)  can lead to poor sleep, and sometimes we are battling 2 or 3 at a time.

Insomnia affects our metabolism and weight in several different ways.   Research has shown that poor sleep activates the endocannabinoid  (eCB) system in our brains – the same pathways activated by the cannabinoids.   These pathways are part of the brain’s relegation of energy and appetite.  High levels of eCB will cause you to feel hungry and induce pleasure in eating.  When we eat because of these triggers, we often choose foods that are unhealthy and cause weight gain.

Reduced sleep affects our circadian rhythms.  Our circadian rhythms are essential for energy metabolism and hormonal balance – especially hormones that regulate appetite.  One of these hormones is gherlin – the hunger hormone, which, you guessed it, increases with sleep deprivation.  The other is leptin, the satiety hormone, and this also is affected by poor sleep.

This is why conquering insomnia is key for weight loss and, more importantly, for the weight to stay off.  If you are experiencing sleep deprivation, Dr. Jill will talk to you about treatment options – including cognitive behavioral therapy, natural supplements, and as a last resort, prescription medications.

Sleepless woman suffering from insomnia, sleep apnea or stress. Tired and exhausted lady. Headache or migraine. Awake in the middle of the night. Frustrated person with problem. Alarm clock with time.

Hormonal Imbalance

A hormonal imbalance occurs when you have too much or too little of one or more hormones.  Hormones are your body’s chemical messengers.  Of course, you have many different hormonal systems in your body, and an imbalance in any one of them can affect your metabolism.

Hormonal imbalance concept. Wooden blocks crossword puzzle flat lay in blue background.

Female Hormones

Our ovarian hormones do more than give us periods, PMS, and the ability to reproduce.  The balance of progesterone to estrogen is key to a healthy metabolism.  Peri-menopause, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), synthetic hormones in birth control pills or IUDs, and menopause all can cause an imbalance that lowers our metabolism and leads to weight gain.  We know that PCOS causes insulin resistance and causes irregular periods.  The estrogen excess of peri-menopause tells  our bodies to store fat.  The lack of testosterone in menopause causes fatigue, brain fog, and lack of motivation.  Depending on your symptoms and concerns, Dr. Jill may suggest testing levels of your ovarian hormones.

Male Hormones

Testosterone is essential for our body’s ability to produce muscle and also maintain the muscle we have.  As men age, their testosterone level decreases, leading to a decrease in muscle and an increase in body fat.  Fatigue and depression are also very common – both implicated in weight gain.

Thyroid Hormones

A poorly functioning thyroid leads to lower metabolism, fatigue, and even mood disorders.  Your thyroid helps to regulate energy distribution and even how and when our calories are burned.  A complete thyroid panel is checked on all of our Reneu You patients.

Adrenal Hormones

Your adrenal gland produces a number of hormones.  Two of the most important are DHEAS and cortisol.  Adrenal functioning is essential for life, and proper adrenal functioning is key to a great metabolism  DHEAS does many of the same things testosterone does – including maintaining our lean body mass, decreasing brain fog, improving libido, and increasing our body’s metabolic rate.  Our DHEAS naturally decreases with age.  Luckily it is something that can easily be replaced.

Cortisol is arguably the most important hormone in metabolic regulation – either too much or too little can cause weight gain.  Stress, chronic disease, insomnia, other hormonal imbalances, and inflammation all affect the production of cortisol.  To detect a problem with your cortisol production, cortisol needs to be checked over a 24-hour time frame.  This is done with saliva testing.  Saliva testing is almost always more accurate for testing hormonal levels as it tells us what is going on at the level of the affected cells rather than what is left over in the venous blood (blood draw).  All Reneu Balance patients will have a 24-hour cortisol test.

Woman hands holding decorative model uterus on pink background. Top view, copy space


Insulin is an essential hormone produced by the pancreas to help shuttle glucose (or energy) into our cells.   Many factors can make our cells insulin-resistant – genetics, environmental factors, and a history of gestational diabetes, just to name a few.  High levels of insulin cause inflammation and oxidative stress, which of course, decreases your metabolism.  If insulin levels remain high for too long, our bodies start to store the extra energy in fat cells – typically the fat cells right around the middle.  And this sets up a vicious cycle – we eat food – insulin is released – our cells are insulin resistant – energy goes into fat storage – we feel tired and hungry – we eat more food.


When you gain weight, you actually don’t gain fat cells unless you are an adolescent or you have gained over 30% of your body weight.   Weight gain causes the fat cells that you have to enlarge.  Enlarged and stretched fat cells cause inflammation in your system.  Higher inflammation leads to insulin resistance and leptin resistance.    Dr. Jill will be checking inflammatory markers at your first visit and discussing ways to lower your inflammation, including eating less processed foods and sugars, managing stress, and getting a good night’s sleep.

Leaky Gut

Weight gain is one of the most common symptoms of a leaky gut, otherwise known as an increase in intestinal permeability.  Bloating, fatigue, and abdominal cramping are also often present.

Our intestines are designed to absorb nutrients and keep out toxins.   In some people, the wall of the intestine becomes damaged, so the proper nutrients are being absorbed more slowly (or sometimes not at all), and toxins can “leak” into the bloodstream.  This, of course, is a perfect setup for inflammation, insulin resistance, and weight gain.

Gut Microbiome

Healthy gut bacteria are essential for good function gut wall.  The typical American diet high in sugar and low in fiber leads to an imbalance of the gut microbiomes and a condition called gut dysbiosis.  Gut dysbiosis contributes to a leaky gut and an increase in inflammation, and of course, weight gain.

partial view of woman holding paper made large intestine on grey background