How Hormones Affect Weight Loss

hormones and weight lossSome of the basic principles of weight loss are simple to understand. Eat less. Move more.

For some of us, weight loss is an ongoing endeavor. As we age, we discover that our bodies change. Losing weight can become harder than ever.

For women, having children, reproductive hormone imbalances, and menopause can impact weight loss. Hormones control functions in our bodies. That’s their job. Though, imbalances in certain hormone levels can inhibit weight loss.

It’s not just an issue for women. It can affect Men as well.

Read on to find the link between hormones and weight loss.

The Purpose and Function of Hormones in the Body

Think of hormones as tiny control units inside of our bodies. They deliver important messages to every part of our bodies. This communications system’s name is the endocrine system.

Hormones control emotions. They create more effects, such as:

  • Direct growth;
  • Pump up the immune system when necessary;
  • Direct our various body systems to develop;
  • Coordinate communications between systems to make sure the body functions in proper balance.

Hormones affect only those systems that have receptors for them. One is attracted to the other, similar to magnets. Likewise, you can change their positions and push them apart rather than come together.

Hormone Imbalances

The endocrine system can fall out of balance. This happens when endocrine disruptors block the natural cycle of your hormones.

Disruptors can pretend to be receptors for a hormone. They can also block the hormone’s path completely.

The result? A hormone imbalance can throw entire body systems out of synch. Hormone imbalances are often the result of an unhealthy lifestyle.

Poor diet and lack of exercise are common culprits. Other things can impact the endocrine system, like menopause in women.

The Connection Between Hormones and Weight Loss

If one or more hormones are out of whack, other body systems are affected. Weight is often affected in that the person gains or loses rapidly. Other times, the person stays on a plateau and can’t lose weight.

Hormones also control body processes that should lead to weight loss when all have balance. Some of these things are the ability to build muscle, energy levels, and rate of metabolism.

If your weight loss stalls, you could have a hormonal imbalance.

Let’s take a look at some specific hormones that affect weight loss.

Insulin Hormones and Weight loss

Insulin is influential when it comes to your metabolism. Your pancreas produces insulin. This hormone regulates glucose or blood sugar.

Being overweight can throw off your insulin levels. As a result, you will have a harder time losing weight when you want to.

Also, eating sugary foods often keeps your insulin working double time. It’s trying to clear all the extra sugar from your bloodstream.

What happens to that extra sugar? The body stores it as fat. More fat means more weight, which means a greater imbalance in insulin levels.

Insulin Resistance

If a person’s body cannot use insulin efficiently, insulin levels rise in an attempt to keep blood glucose down. We call it insulin resistance. It is a risk factor for diabetes and other conditions.

When cells are not absorbing glucose the way they should, glucose builds up in the blood. If glucose levels are high but not high enough to be diabetes, clinicians refer to this as prediabetes.

When the imbalance becomes significant enough, you may develop diabetes. At that point, you will also lose energy and continue to gain weight.

Your body begins to experience trouble breaking down food. The result is unhealthy blood sugar levels along with weight gain.

Thyroid Hormones and Weight Loss

There is a well-established connection between thyroid disease, metabolism, and body weight. Notably, thyroid hormones play a crucial role in regulating metabolism. One way to assess metabolism is by measuring the amount of oxygen the body consumes over time.

Specifically, taking measurements while at rest provides your basal metabolic rate (BMR). Consequently, patients with improperly functioning thyroid glands tend to exhibit low BMRs. On the other hand, patients with overactive thyroid glands often have high BMRs.


When the thyroid overworks, it’s called hyperthyroidism. Patients with hyperthyroidism experience weight loss.

Suppose the patient has a severe case of BMR, to the point that they need a higher level of calories to maintain their current weight. Weight loss occurs when the patient doesn’t get those extra calories.


A low functioning thyroid is called hypothyroidism. With hypothyroidism, BMR decreases. Thus, specialists often associate an underactive thyroid with weight gain, especially for women.

Though, the thyroid is rarely the only cause of weight gain. And what weight it is responsible for is usually in the form of accumulated salt and fluid in the body.

Cortisol Hormones and Weight Loss

Cortisol is often referred to as the “stress hormone”; however, it plays a role in numerous bodily processes. These vital functions include regulating blood pressure, managing metabolism, and controlling blood sugar levels.

In response to a stressful event, the body temporarily produces more cortisol, which assists in coping with the stress.

Studies suggest that higher levels of cortisol over long periods can contribute to weight gain, particularly around the midsection and surrounding the organs (visceral fat).

An imbalance of cortisol can not only increase appetite but also drain energy and even lead to muscle mass loss. Consequently, higher cortisol levels can significantly impede your weight loss endeavors.

Estrogen Hormones and Weight Loss

For women, estrogen can play a significant role in weight gain. Estrogen is the hormone in charge of female sexual characteristics like hips and breasts. During menopause, changing estrogen levels can lead to weight gain.

Estrogen Dominance

During menopause, all of your hormone levels drop. If your progesterone levels decrease more than your estrogen, you can still have what’s called estrogen dominance in the body.

This imbalance can occur in younger women as well who are not in menopause. Estrogen dominance means you can gain weight, especially around the middle and hips. It also means that it’s difficult to get the unwanted weight off.

Hormone Replacement Therapy

Hormone replacement therapy can be beneficial for women in menopause.

By the way, it can also be beneficial for men who may be deficient in testosterone.

Leptin Hormones and Weight Loss

Your body’s fat cells produce leptin. This hormone’s job is to inform the hypothalamus, an area of the brain, that you’re satiated or full. Excess stored fat in your body creates too much leptin.

If your body then becomes leptin resistant, your body gets its signals crossed. It can no longer tell when you’re full. The result is overeating and added weight.

Hormone Therapy For Weight Loss

Now that you understand how some hormones affect your ability to lose weight, you can better understand the concept of hormone therapy for weight loss.

First, work with your doctor to regulate any conditions you have, such as hypothyroidism, diabetes, or menopause.

If you have any questions about hormone replacement therapy or hormones for weight loss, please contact us.

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