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Health Articles

Weight Loss Controls Hot Flashes

In 2006, when I was the medical director for a large medical clinic, the owners decided to participate in a ketogenic diet that included a low carbohydrate protocol very similar to the ITG Diet.  Within three weeks, one of the female owners approached me with obvious and significant weight loss; and a surprise question, “Why did my hot flashes decrease when I lost weight?”  That’s a great question and at the time I had no good answer.

Well now, with more information at hand, I am ready to tackle the issue. There is, for the most part, a definite association between lower weight, less obesity and lower incidence of hot flashes.  First, what is a hot flash?  It is called “Thermoregulatory Flushing” and is associated with feeling very hot, profuse sweating and flushing of the skin.  The flush is part of the body’s natural heat regulating mechanism.  The problem is that this has gone haywire during menopausal hot flashes.  Fifty to 80 percent of women over 45 suffer from flashes that can last several minutes and occur 20 or more times per day. (1)  It would appear that with the menopausal hormone changes this heat regulation gets unsettled and then, literally, “all hell breaks loose!” 

Research has shown that women with higher body mass index (i.e., overweight or are obese) have worse hot flashes, more frequent and more intense symptoms.(2)  Studies have shown that weight loss provides an immediate effect on hot flash reduction. Women who lose weight are also twice as likely to have a reduction in hot flashes.  One study reported that women were one-third more likely to have fewer symptoms for every 11 pounds lost.(3)  The ITG Diet is designed to help you lose those 11 pounds and more, very safely and very quickly.

Unfortunately, not a lot is known about the reason why obesity triggers such a problem with worsened hot flashes and night sweats.(4)  It may well be that fat is a very good insulator and that the excess weight prevents an overweight individual from cooling off like a normal weight individual would cool off.

Excess insulin, the hormone that regulates sugar, is also associated with increased severity and frequency of hot flashes and night sweats.  Sugar levels were one-third higher in women who reported hot flashes one to five days per week compared to women who reported no hot flashes.  These researchers also reported that as glucose levels and insulin resistance worsened, so did hot flashes.(5)   It would appear that the excess sugars associated with the standard American diet (SAD) can very much worsen hot flashes.  The ITG Diet has been specifically designed to control sugar and insulin safely and quickly, thereby relieving symptoms related to obesity.

Leptin is a fat cell derived hormone that is supposed to signal fullness or satiety.  When people are obese this hormone increases, trying to control the body and the sensation of hunger to no avail.  When leptin levels go up in obese women... guess what?...so do hot flashes and night sweats.  Losing weight with the ITG Diet can help restore normal leptin levels.

Are you noticing a trend here?  Lose weight, less hot flashes and night sweats.  Seems like a smart idea to get to your ideal weight as opposed to dumping in hormones and other medications to “cover over” the symptoms!

The above is a simplification of the full story and much research still needs to be done.  We don’t have the time to wait for decades for a better answer, especially when we have a great solution staring us in the face.

According to Reuters Health, women will try, and stick to, a weight loss plan if it promises to ease their hot flashes, a small new study suggests.  Since women have few methods to manage their hot flashes we’ve been developing approaches that women can use to reduce their hot flashes that do not require use of medications

Hot flashes impact a significant number of women and for some, it can affect their quality of life.  This impacts the U.S. where a significant portion of the population is considered to be obese and weight loss strategies such as this are important.  The findings are not definitive, but they are suggestive.

Being able to control hot flashes can change your life.  The good news is that for years we’ve helped women control their hot flashes by improving their health, particularly with weight control. 

By John DeCosmo, D.O.


1)       Up-to-Date; Menopausal Flushes
2)       http://www.ucsf.edu/news/2010/07/4427/weight-loss-reduces-hot-flashes-overweight-and-obese-women
3)       http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/07/12/hot.flashes.losing.weight/
4)       http://www.webmd.com/menopause/news/20050511/anxiety-obesity-smoking-may-up-hot-flashes
5)       http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/772465


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