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Do Your Hormones Affect Weight Gain and Loss?

Hormones are chemical substances released by glands in the body to regulate various functions. They can also be produced synthetically or administered as medication.


Hormones play a key role in weight gain and loss, but they are not the only factor. The amount of food consumed, exercise, genetics, and other factors affect how much weight you will lose or gain.


Knowing what hormones do to your body can help you manage weight loss and gain. Some hormones, such as insulin, leptin,  and ghrelin, are known to regulate appetite and metabolism. When these hormones are not functioning properly, it can lead to weight gain or loss. Other hormones, like thyroid hormone and cortisol, also affect weight regulation.


This article will discuss how hormones affect weight gain and loss, including insulin, ghrelin, leptin, and cortisol. It will also discuss the factors that can affect hormone levels and how to improve hormones in your body.


To start, let’s take a deep look at what hormones are and their different types.


What Are Hormones?


Hormones are substances that act as chemical messengers which control our body processes. Endocrine glands secrete hormones. The hormones then collaborate with the neurological and immune systems to help your body manage and adapt to various situations and stresses.


Hormones aid in almost all biological functions, including metabolism, the development of sex organs, appetite, blood glucose levels, and feelings of fullness. Some hormones linked to appetite also greatly impact body weight, body fat, and muscle mass.


Because of this, hormonal imbalance, which occurs when the body produces an excess or insufficient amount of a hormone, may substantially impact overall health, including your body weight.


Different Types of Hormones and Their Effects


There are many hormones with a wide range of effects on the body. Some hormones affect moods, and others on weight or sex drive. The different hormones are:


1. Insulin Hormone


The pancreas secretes insulin hormone, which is crucial for regulating carbohydrates and fat metabolism. Insulin also promotes the uptake of glucose— sugar from foods you consume, from the blood in tissues like the liver, muscles, and fat.


The pancreas secretes little insulin amounts the throughout the day and large amounts after your meal. In muscle tissues, glucose is then either stored as glycogen for future use or used as energy. Fat is synthesized into fat or burnt in fat cells based on your body’s present needs.


This is a critical mechanism for ensuring that energy is supplied for daily functioning and that normal circulating glucose levels are maintained.


However, insulin may become a problem for your body if you have excessive visceral fat. The fat can produce inflammatory substances that decrease your body’s sensitivity to insulin, making it insulin resistant. Insulin resistance tends to cause greater fat storage, leading to obesity which might lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.


2. Ghrelin


Ghrelin is simply the hunger hormone secreted by the stomach when it requires food, which signals the brain that your stomach is empty. Its primary role is to increase hunger. It’s high when you are hungry and low when you have eaten.


It also aids in food movement through the digestive tract and is implicated in the mental health, cardiovascular and immunological systems. Ghrelin is also involved in the sleep-wake cycle, glucose and metabolism.


Managing ghrelin for weight loss is challenging. When you restrict calories (one way of losing weight), ghrelin increases, making you feel hungry, which can lead to overeating. As a result, you gain weight instead. Also, the metabolism rate slows, and the leptin—fullness hormone reduces.


Ghrelin levels in obese people are very low; however, they are more sensitive to its effect (hunger). This sensitivity may cause over-eating.


To reduce your appetite, below are the tips to help you.


  • Get enough sleep
  • Eat regularly
  • Try maintaining a moderate weight


3. Leptin Hormone


Leptin is a satiety hormone secreted by fat cells that tells your hypothalamus — the part of the brain that controls your appetite — you’re full.


Leptin levels increase while you eat, decreasing hunger while increasing your metabolic rate, which aids in preventing weight gain.

Leptin resistance, however, may occur in obese people. Despite having high amounts of leptin, they struggle to control their appetite. As a result, their brain doesn’t receive the signal to quit eating, eventually leading to overeating. Their body may then continue to generate leptin until their levels get elevated.


Although the exact cause for leptin resistance is unknown, it might be caused by inflammation, increased leptin synthesis, or gene mutations,  which can happen with obesity.


To boost your leptin levels, maintain a healthy weight, have enough sleep, and work out regularly.


4. Estrogen


Estrogen is the main sex hormone in females that regulate the female reproductive system ( puberty ) fertility and the immunological, skeletal, and cardiovascular systems. It is also produced in men, though in smaller amounts.


Estrogen also protects your bones, boosts muscle growth, and influences mood. In terms of body weight, estrogen may influence your shape by shifting fat to your hips and thighs.


The estrogen level varies depending on your stage during life, like puberty, pregnancy, nursing, and menopause. For instance, those in menopause or perimenopause stage may have a low estrogen hormone which may influence both fat and body weight, thus raising the risk of developing chronic diseases.


Persons with low estrogen levels are prone to central obesity— a build-up of weight around the trunk of your body. This can cause various health issues, including high blood pressure, heart disease, and high blood sugar.


High estrogen hormone levels, common in obese people, are linked to an increased risk of some cancers and other chronic disorders.


5. Thyroid Hormone


Thyroid glands secrete thyroid hormones that have a variety of functions, including regulating metabolic rate, controlling heart rate and body temperature, and promoting fetal growth.


When the thyroid gland is hyperactive, it produces excessive thyroid hormone, which boosts metabolism. This causes the body to enter a hypermetabolic state, which burns more calories, resulting in significant weight loss. This state is referred to as hyperthyroidism.


Although hyperthyroidism can help you lose weight, it also risks your heart, bones, and eyes.


6. Cortisol Hormone


Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, is secreted by the adrenal glands.


When stressed, the cortisol hormone causes a rise in heart rate and energy levels. Additionally, it increases appetite, particularly for calorie-dense, highly delicious foods heavy in fat and sugar, and distributes fat to the abdominal area.


Although your body needs to release cortisol, prolonged high amounts can cause several health problems, including diabetes, weight gain,  low energy levels, elevated blood pressure, sleep problems, and heart disease. Many lifestyle choices, such as insufficient sleep, ongoing stress, and eating a lot of high-glycemic meals, may cause high cortisol levels.



Factors that Affect Hormones


Hormones can be affected by many factors, including weight, medical conditions, age, and body fat. Below is how various factors affect hormones in your body.


Body Weight and Body Fat


People who are overweight and obese affect the level of estrogen, testosterone, ghrelin, and leptin hormones. For instance, obese men are much more prone to have low testosterone levels than normal-weight men. This is mostly due to a decrease in the protein sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) that transports testosterone to the body tissues.


The decrease of Sex hormone – binding globulin in obesity is caused by Insulin resistance.


Also, in men, lower levels of testosterone are linked to increased body fat, especially in the abdominal area, and decreased muscle mass.


Obesity is also significantly linked to irregularities in the leptin hormone, such as hyperleptinemia and leptin resistance — when the body fails to respond adequately to leptin.


Medical Condition


Medical problems such as diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome, Cushing’s disease, and hypothyroidism can cause hormonal dysregulation and affect body weight.


For instance, in people with hyperthyroid conditions, their glands are overactive; therefore, they secrete too much thyroid hormone. On the other hand, hypothyroid people have underactive glands which secrete too little hormone. All these conditions affect hormone levels.




People in menopause or perimenopause may have lower estrogen levels, which can affect body fat and body weight, increasing the chance of chronic diseases. Also, from a man’s twenties and thirties, testosterone hormone levels naturally decline by 5 to 10% per decade, affecting the hormone.


Life Style and Diet


Your lifestyle choices can substantially impact the hormones that regulate your body weight. The following are how diet, stress, and activity can affect your hormones.




Your everyday diet and drink choices greatly impact your health, including your hormonal health. According to research, diets high in ultra-processed foods, refined sugar, and refined carbs might cause hormone abnormalities.


For instance, eating foods rich in added sugar and drinking sugar-sweetened beverages has been associated with insulin resistance and higher leptin levels.


NPY and CCK are also decreased when a diet high in ultra-processed foods and added sugar is consumed. These side effects can cause overeating and weight gain.


Additionally, evidence claims that higher-protein, moderate or lower-carb diets may affect hunger and satiety hormones more favorably than lower-protein, higher-carbs diets.


Follow a healthy diet rich in whole, slightly processed foods and lower in ultra-processed food and refined or added sugar for better hormonal health.




Quality sleep is important for optimal health, including hormonal health. Lack of sleep is linked to hormone imbalance.


According to research, Sleep deprivation is associated with leptin, insulin resistance, and hunger hormone imbalances, resulting in increased appetites, lower fullness, excess eating, and body weight gain.




Exercising regularly also influences your hormonal balance. According to research exercising regularly can raise testosterone levels in men and promote the body’s insulin sensitivity.


Increasing your physical activities also lowers leptin levels in overweight and obese individuals and increases the body’s fullness hormone response to food intake.




Managing stress is crucial for a healthy hormonal response. Prolonged stress could influence the hormones responsible for hunger regulation, increasing caloric consumption and weight gain.


As a result, effective stress management is vital for achieving good hormonal health and preserving a healthy body weight.



How to Improve Hormones Levels


There are various ways to improve your hormone levels. Some of the ways include:


Exercise Regularly


Exercise has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity and reduce insulin resistance when performed at high and moderate intensities.


According to research, persistent, routine exercise lowers leptin and cortisol levels after intense exercise. Additionally, it raises estrogen levels throughout menopause.


Maintain Moderate Body Weight


Healthy weight loss and weight maintenance may increase insulin sensitivity in overweight individuals. Additionally, since leptin resistance and obesity are linked, keeping a healthy weight is critical.


Maintaining a moderate weight may also help keep cortisol levels in line because obesity has been shown to raise cortisol levels, and high cortisol levels have been linked to weight growth.


Get Quality Sleep

High cortisol levels can result from long-term sleep problems such as insomnia, sleep apnea, and irregular sleeping patterns. Additionally, poor sleep is associated with insulin resistance and obesity.


Furthermore, in obese people, inadequate sleep may result in elevated leptin, appetite, and ghrelin hormone levels. Concentrate on creating a consistent bedtime and sleep regimen.


Eat a Balanced Diet


Diets rich in fat, sugar, processed foods, sweets, and refined grains have been proven to enhance estrogen levels and may also raise NPY levels, which might increase your chance of developing chronic diseases. As a result, you might want to consider reducing your consumption of these meals.


Also, studies have suggested that diets rich in refined grains, trans fat, and added sugar may raise cortisol levels. However, eating a Mediterranean-style diet can help lower insulin resistance and cortisol levels.


The Mediterranean diet emphasizes many vegetables, extra-virgin olive oil, and nut-based healthful fats. Reducing your consumption of saturated and trans fats may also be beneficial.


Take Fish Oil Supplements


Acquire omega-3 fatty acids. According to research, omega-3 fatty acids supplements may help persons with metabolic disorders like diabetes have better insulin sensitivity. If you dislike omega-3 supplements, consider consuming more fish, plant oils, seeds, and nuts instead.


Other ways you can improve your hormones are:


  • Eating regularly to regulate ghrelin hormone levels
  • Practice meditation to reduce the cortisol (stress) hormone
  • Eat low glycemic carbs such as legumes, veggies, fruits, and whole grains for insulin regulation and reduction of insulin resistance




Hormones regulate metabolism, fat distribution, hunger, and fullness, which could affect body weight.


Studies have shown that hormonal health can be impacted by various factors, including food, inadequate sleep, exercise levels, fat percentage, stress tolerance, and medical conditions.


According to research, several scientifically validated lifestyle practices can support healthy body weight and hormone regulation. They include eating a balanced diet, getting adequate sleep, identifying underlying medical issues, coping with stress, and exercising.


However, if you think your hormones might be at harmful levels, it’s crucial to consult a medical expert.





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