You’ve got stubborn pounds you just can’t shed, even with diet and exercise. The secret to weight loss that may tip the scales in your favor, helping you reach your magic number? Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT).

As we age, our body slows down the production of certain hormones. Some of them—testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone—help us maintain a healthy weight. Hormones trigger our hunger cues so that we don’t overeat, power our metabolism, and tell the body when to store fat and use it as an energy source. When those hormone levels start to drop, your weight can start to fluctuate.

BHRT is an innovative weight-loss approach. It’s often used to ease the symptoms of menopause and andropause (the male version of menopause) caused by low hormone levels. One of the most common symptoms is weight gain. With BHRT, low hormone levels are supplemented and restored, making it easier to lose those extra pounds.

Even better, BHRT uses manmade hormones (typically sourced from plants) that are identical to those found naturally in your body. That means there are fewer risks and side effects compared to synthetic hormones. BHRT is also easy to take—choose from patches, creams, gels, pellets, or injections.

Here are five reasons why you should consider BHRT for weight loss:

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1. It helps build lean muscle mass.

Your metabolism is fired up, and your body is great at burning calories when you have more muscle than fat. Testosterone is a key hormone for building muscle. When testosterone levels decrease, so does your muscle mass. BHRT can replenish your natural testosterone, helping you feel strong and energized.

2. It helps control your appetite.

Leptin is one component of BHRT. It’s often been nicknamed the “obesity hormone” because leptin tells the brain when you are hungry or full. When your body doesn’t produce enough leptin, you’ll still feel the urge to eat, even if you’re not really hungry. This can lead to excess calorie intake—and excess weight. BHRT also helps re-balance leptin levels in the body so that you’re burning calories at a normal rate. Low leptin may trick the brain into thinking you’re low on energy, and your calorie burn rate will be lower. Enhanced leptin levels can spur a faster metabolism.

3.It boosts estrogen levels.

Weight gain is a common pitfall of menopause. That’s because the body relies on its fat cells to make up for the decrease in normal estrogen production, so it stores more fat (usually in the abdomen) to ensure that estrogen supply. Once BHRT provides the estrogen you need, your body won’t need to rely on stored-up fat as the source for the hormone. Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy also prevents too much fat from being stored by the body for estrogen. When this happens, it increases the risk of insulin resistance, which can lead to weight gain.

4. It helps you sleep better.

It’s a vicious cycle when you don’t have enough hormones or enough rest. When hormones are out of whack, they don’t communicate with your brain properly and can lead to sleeplessness caused by issues like insomnia. And if you don’t get enough sleep, that affects how your body produces and controls appetite-related hormones, including leptin. Breaking the cycle with BHRT can improve or prevent sleep problems and get you back in balance. Progesterone helps promote sleep—while also decreasing anxiety that can cause sleeplessness—in menopausal women. Another incentive to get your ZZZZs: Research has shown an association between lack of sleep and increased body weight.

5.It helps reduce visceral fat.

Shedding fat is a key goal of weight loss. That’s especially true of visceral fat. It’s found near organs in the abdominal cavity and can lead to increased risk for serious health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and breast or colorectal cancers. Human growth hormone produced by the pituitary gland helps reduce visceral fat and improve body composition in adults. BHRT can incorporate HGH in some cases but most often uses a growth hormone-releasing factor to boost levels.

BHRT holds great promise as a weight-loss tool, especially when it’s part of a comprehensive regimen that includes exercise and a well-balanced eating plan. It’s important to work with a medical professional with experience in BHRT. A physician will need to know about any health concerns and review your medical history to customize the most effective BHRT treatment for you. You’ll also need to be monitored to make sure the hormone dosage produces the desired results; if not, your health care provider can make any needed adjustments.

Ready to experience weight-loss success? See what BHRT can do for you.