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7 Hormones Responsible For Weight Gain


Did you know that weight gain and hormones are related? Have you heard that the hormones in your body have a direct impact on how much you weigh?

An inactive lifestyle and an unhealthy diet are always getting the blame for weight gain. However, this is not always the case. Hormones can also influence metabolism and weight gain.

When certain hormones are present in higher quantities or deficient in the body, they promote the accumulation of fat. This is why a hormonal balance is necessary to keep the body at a healthy weight. Many people overlook this simple fact in their attempts to lose weight. Hence, weight loss becomes a tedious process.

Weight gain is a common outcome of hormonal imbalances. Hormonal imbalance is usually as a result of certain drugs, stress, ageing, surgeries, a poor lifestyle, and genetics. It often triggers indigestion, a slower metabolism, and an uncontrolled appetite, all of which in the end, causes weight gain. When the connection between weight gain and hormones is fully understood, it gets easier to take the right actions.

What Are Hormones?

Hormones are chemicals that play a crucial role as messengers in the body. The messages they convey instruct the body on what to do and when.

They come in a variety of forms and affect various elements of physiological processes and activities. They are secreted into the blood, where they are transported to various organs and tissues to carry out their intended duties. Some of these include metabolism, appetite, mood and cognitive function, growth and development, fertility, and homeostasis.

Hormones Responsible For Weight Gain

The following are seven hormones that impact weight gain:

·         Insulin

The pancreas secretes the hormone insulin. This hormone is crucial for controlling carbohydrate and fat metabolism. It facilitates the storage of glucose in the fat cells, liver, and muscles for future use. This is a procedure that maintains levels of blood glucose. It also determines how much fat will be stored or used for energy production.

When the cells cease responding to insulin, there is difficulty in the transport of glucose into the cells and persistently raised insulin levels. This condition is called insulin resistance. It is a relatively prevalent disorder that results in high blood glucose, weight gain, and type II diabetes.

·         Leptin

Another hormone that is necessary to know when concerned about weight gain and hormones is leptin. It is often referred to be the hormone that controls hunger. It is produced in the adipose cells and is responsible for the feeling of satiety.

When the levels of leptin in the body are in check, there is no urge to overeat. However, in cases of leptin resistance, levels of leptin in the body become excessive. This causes the brain to misinterpret the body’s signal of satiety and instruct it to continue eating.

Leptin levels in obese people can actually be up to four times higher than those with healthy weight. Additionally, once leptin resistance has occurred, it can be very hard to restore balance.

·         Ghrelin

Leptin and ghrelin are fundamentally antagonistic hormones. Ghrelin is an orexigenic hormone that boosts fat storage while enhancing appetite and food consumption. Its primary objective is to stimulate hunger. The hypothalamus receives a signal from this hormone and tells the body it needs to eat.

The levels of ghrelin in the body are often high before meals and low after. As with the other hormones, overweight people have imbalanced ghrelin levels. The hormone does not fall low enough after eating. As a result, the brain does not receive the message about satiety. This causes overeating, which fuels additional weight gain.

·         Oestrogen

Overweight women have high oestrogen levels. This hormone is made in the ovaries. It is a sex hormone essential for the healthiest performance of the female reproductive organs. It also regulates the immunological, skeletal, and circulatory systems in women. It supports fat storage so that women can maintain fertility and have healthy pregnancies.

The hormonal levels fluctuate during various life phases such as menstrual cycle, pregnancy, lactation, and menopause. When there is either insufficient or an excessive amount of oestrogen, it impacts the body weight and body fat. High oestrogen levels are seen in obesity. Contrarily, low levels are associated with ageing, perimenopause, and menopause.

Physical activity and oestrogen levels are closely related. Therefore, the weight gain can be better managed by being physically active, especially during menopause.

·         Neuropeptide Y

Weight and stress are known to be related. Stress causes some people to lose weight while it causes others to gain weight.  When fasting or under stress, the body releases a powerful orexigenic called neuropeptide Y (NPY). It has significant impacts on appetite, immunological response, and cardiovascular control. It increases food intake, lowers energy expenditure, and facilitates ketogenesis. It plays an essential role in the occurrence and development of obesity. This is because it has the ability to directly regulate fat metabolism and the proliferation of fat cells.

An excessive release of NPY results in overeating. In the end, there is an elevated level of the hormone in the serum, which is linked to metabolically unhealthy obesity.

·         Cortisol

Cortisol is also called the stress hormone. It is produced by the adrenal glands. It is primarily secreted into the bloodstream when the mind or body considers itself to be dealing with stress, depression, anger, anxiety, etc. Nowadays, these emotions are experienced quite way too often, causing the body to create more of this hormone than is healthy.

The overproduction of cortisol is known to be associated with weight gain. It can be due to chronic stress and getting little sleep. At first, it begins with overeating. This is why many people eat more than usual when under pressure. Abdominal fat, then, builds up as a result of the elevated cortisol levels.

·         Testosterone

This is the main male sex hormone. It plays a critical role in the development of male reproductive organs like the prostate and testes.  It aids in the promotion of several secondary traits like body hair growth and improved muscle mass. It is also produced in a little amount in the ovaries of women.

Testosterone promotes fat burning. As a result, low levels of testosterone cause increased fat mass. In fact, one of the best indicators of low testosterone levels in men is weight gain. It is often associated with poor glucose regulation, decreased insulin sensitivity, dyslipidaemia, and energy imbalance.  Lastly, an overproduction of testosterone in women causes Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), making them gain weight.


The general health is greatly influenced by hormones. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to the wide variety of signs and symptoms that indicate a hormonal imbalance. It could be dependent on the improper functioning of the glands secreting the hormone or the secreted hormone itself. Some indications of common problems include increased hunger, increased thirst, dry skin, decreased sex drive, puffy face, central obesity, etc.

Hormones responsible for weight gain.

Hormonal weight gain increases the likelihood of developing other illnesses and can lead to higher rates of mortality and morbidity. To minimise and perhaps reverse this condition, it is best to get an early assessment with a licenced endocrinologist. Furthermore, there are lifestyle approaches such as minimising alcohol intake, changing dietary habits, properly managing stress levels, and more sleep. Aside from hormonal modifications, certain medications may also help with weight gain.


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