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 hormones 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. Men can be affected 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 is called the endocrine system.

Hormones control emotions. They direct growth. They pump up the immune system when required. They direct our various body systems to develop.

They even 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 the push apart rather than come together.

Hormone Imbalances

The endocrine system can fall out of balance. This happens when chemicals called 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 is balanced. 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 looks 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 greater imbalance to insulin levels.

Insulin Resistance

If a person’s body cannot use insulin efficiently, insulin levels rise in an attempt to keep blood glucose down. This is called 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 an understood connection between thyroid disease, metabolism, and body weight. Thyroid hormones regulate metabolism. You measure metabolism by measuring the amount of oxygen the body uses over time.

Measuring while at rest gives your basal metabolic rate (BMR). Patients whose thyroid glands were not functioning correctly have low BMRs. Patients who had overactive thyroid glands have high BMRs.


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

If the patient has a severe case, BMR to the point that he or she needs increased calories to maintain their current weight. Weight loss occurs when that the patient doesn’t get those extra calories.


A low functioning thyroid is called hypothyroidism. With hypothyroidism, BMR decreases. Thus, an underactive thyroid is often associated 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 more than the “stress hormone” as some people call it. Cortisol is involved in many of the body’s processes. These include regulating blood pressure, metabolism, and blood sugar.

When we experience a stressful event, the body produces more cortisol temporarily to help the body respond to the stress.

Research indicates that increased cortisol levels over long periods can cause weight gain. The weigh centers around your middle and around your organs (visceral fat).

An imbalance of cortisol can increase appetite, sap energy, and even cause a loss of muscle mass. Increased cortisol levels can hinder your weight loss efforts.

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 breast. 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 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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