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Weight Loss: The Hormone Effect

Updated on March 31, 2019
Alphadogg16 profile image

I am a Board-Certified Physical Therapist and National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer and Nutritionist.

Hormones have a direct affect on how fast fat is deposited

The Never Ending Battle

There is a serious health and fitness craze taking over the world, however this day and age a large percentage of people don't want to acquire fitness the old fashion way threw sweat and hard work. For the most part, many people are doing cosmetic surgeries, participating in ridiculous fad diets or looking for the newest magic potion to take. If you're one of those people that take pride in your body and have no problem punching the clock, rolling up your sleeves, putting in work and getting it done the hard, natural way, then I'm talking to you. Unless you're in a health care profession or personal trainer, many people are unaware of just how much responsibility your hormones bear when it comes to weight loss. Studies have shown that your hormones play a significant role in the regulation of your appetite and just how much fat your body stores. This article will explain the four main hormones that aid in controlling your weight and how you can manipulate them to acquire the wanted weight loss faster.


You don't have to be in the medical field or a gym rat to have heard of the hormone insulin. If the human body isn't your forte and you have no idea what insulin is or what it does, I'll explain. Your pancreas makes insulin, a peptide hormone that permits your body to use glucose (sugar) from the carbohydrates in the food that you eat as energy. Insulin, considered to be the main anabolic hormone not only regulates the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats, it also alleviates blood sugar levels and stores glucose for future usage. To put this in laymans terms, all the cells in your body need sugar for energy, however sugar is unable to directly enter most cells. Beta cells in the pancreas release insulin to absorb sugar from the bloodstream and enable it to enter the cells and be used as energy. On the other side of this double edged sword, sugar is the main precursor of fat. The more sugar that is in your body, the more fat the body will store. When you have more sugar in the body than it needs, insulin takes any extra glucose out of the bloodstream to the liver, muscles or fat deposits. Knowing how to properly time your carbohydrate intake and controlling when insulin is released, avoiding sugary foods and drinks, eating more healthy fats and of course exercising consistently will assist you significantly in your fat loss goals.


Cortisol, a steroid hormone is made in the adrenal glands. It's more commonly known as the stress hormone because of it's correlation to the body's stress response. Cortisol can influence numerous functions in the body because most of our bodily cells contain cortisol receptors. Like insulin, cortisol can also aid in controlling blood sugar levels and regulate metabolism. Additionally, it assists in modulating blood pressure, has a preponderant effect on salt and water balance, helps in diminishing inflammation and lends a hand in memory formulation. It's affiliation with so many different functions makes cortisol imperative for overall health and well being. The problem with cortisol comes when it's levels become elevated which can potentially lead to overeating and increased weight gain. When you wake up in the morning, cortisol levels are raised. So consuming foods with a high carbohydrate content causing insulin to spike, combined with high cortisol levels will trigger increased fat storage. The easiest and most obvious way to balance hormones and mitigate cortisol levels is to eat a well balanced diet and to reduce your stress factors. Study's have shown listening to soothing music is a relaxing stress reliever.

The Effects of excessive Cortisol


The third of the weight managing hormones is Leptin. Leptin is a hormone predominately made of adipose cells and is basically in charge of fat burning and coordinating energy balance by inhibiting hunger. Leptin impacts almost every other hormone that is associated with regulating your weight and has an explicit effect on the body's ability to burn fat overall. The levels of leptin produced in your body are controlled by two factors. The hormone itself is secreted by the fat cells in the body so obviously an individuals body fat percentage plays a significant role in the secretion of the hormone. People that carry more body fat will have higher leptin levels. The second factor that determines blood levels of leptin is your caloric intake. Lowering the calories you consume will decrease your levels separate of body fat. In theory you would think an overweight person with high leptin levels would eat less, however the issue with obese individuals is their leptin regulating system isn't working properly. This is a condition called leptin resistance, similar to insulin resistance. In simple terms, the brain thinks the body is starving when it's actually not. The hormone can also be suppressed by chronic dieters or large amounts of weight loss causing more food consumption. With every pound that you lose, your levels diminish making it more difficult to continue losing fat. When your body is given a caloric restriction, it recognizes fat deposits as essential assets for survival. The more fat you lose, the more the body feels threatened and protects itself with a starvation mode, making each additional pound more challenging to lose. You can manage your levels by exercising consistently, getting at least eight hours of quality sleep, eating anti-inflammatory foods, cutting out sugar and trans fat and when your caloric intake is low or on a low caloric diet, give yourself a big cheat meal at least every 2 weeks to aid in recovering leptin levels.

The effects of the hormone Leptin


Ghrelin is a peptide hormone also known as the hunger hormone as it is in charge of regulating your appetite and plays an essential role in energy homeostasis (energy balance). When the stomach is empty, ghrelin is secreted and signals the hypothalamus in your brain that it's time to eat. This hormones main function is to increase the appetite, take in more calories and store more fat. Your levels will reach their peak prior to a meal and will decrease within the hour after you've eaten. Research has shown overweight and obese individual experience a very minimal decline of ghrelin levels. The hypothalamus does not get a strong enough signal to stop them from eating, which will normally ensue overeating. Any kind of drink or food high in sugar, fructose or corn syrup content can impair the ghrelin response after you've eaten a meal. Excluding sugary drinks and food, adding more protein and drinking lots of water will keep your levels properly balanced.

Keeping these four hormones balanced and in control will support your weight loss goals and assist in achieving them faster.

© 2019 Kevin W


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    • bhattuc profile image

      Umesh Chandra Bhatt 

      10 months ago from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India

      Good one. Thanks for the information.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      18 months ago

      I think the effects of hormones on weight is a fact we know little of and your bringing us to awareness is appreciated.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      18 months ago from USA

      This was an excellent explanation of what’s going on with hormones and weight and it helps me understand the interplay of age too. Adding your credentials in the bio helps too!


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