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5 Hormones That Contribute to Weight Gain

Hormonal balance is a KEY piece for a successful weight loss journey!

Have you known someone who’s tried multiple diet and exercise programs but hasn’t been successful in losing weight? Or they lost some weight and gained it back? Or they lost some weight and plateaued and haven’t been able to lose more weight? Well, either it was not the right diet and exercise program (such as a crash diet), or it was due to an underlying hormonal imbalance. Taking a comprehensive look at your hormones is one aspect of identifying a successful weight loss program. Read below to learn about 5 hormones that contribute to weight gain.


Your thyroid is your body’s metabolic engine. When it slows down, just about everything slows down in the body. Low thyroid hormone levels can cause your body to burn less calories and contribute to fatigue and mood changes. As you know, when you’re tired and feeling anxious or depressed, you don’t have as much motivation to work out and typically make poor dietary choices. As a result, these factors can contribute to weight gain, so it is important to check your thyroid hormone levels.


You already know that chronic stress is terrible for your overall health. Well, another downside is weight gain, especially in the abdominal area. Cortisol tends to spike blood sugar, disrupt appetite controlling hormones, increase inflammation in the body, and lead to insulin resistance. High cortisol can also lower other hormones such as thyroid hormone and testosterone, which contributes to weight gain.

Sex Hormones

Estrogen and testosterone imbalances contribute to weight gain in different ways. Low estrogen, such as in menopause, has been associated with weight gain, especially in the abdominal section (that poor belly just keeps getting targeted!). One mechanism by which this occurs is thought to be due to low estrogen levels creating an imbalance in gut bacteria. This in turn can contribute to lipid imbalances, insulin resistance, and ultimately weight gain. Conversely, high estrogen in younger women can also contribute to weight gain, as excess estrogen can bind up thyroid hormone, contributing to a slower metabolism. For both men and women, low testosterone can contribute to weight gain and decreased muscle mass. In men, low testosterone can contribute to the so-called “dad bod” by increasing belly fat.


One of the contributing factors to our society’s current health problems is our sugar addiction. There is added sugar to just about every packaged or processed food and most people receive excess sugar from both natural and added sugars each day. Insulin is meant to shuttle glucose (blood sugar) inside of your cells. When it is constantly being released, it becomes “resistant” and doesn’t do its job properly. This causes an individual to feel hungry and tired despite receiving adequate calories. Unresolved stress, lack of physical activity, sleep disturbances, and a diet high in excess sugar and inflammatory fats are contributors of insulin resistance.


Leptin is a hormone produced by your fat cells and one of its major functions is to control our long-term appetite and energy balance. When body fat content is low, leptin sends a signal to our brain to increase our appetite, and conversely, when body fat content is high, it sends a signal to suppress our appetite. In overweight individuals, leptin levels tend to be high, but the normal signaling process doesn’t work as it should. As a result, appetite is not suppressed and the body burns less calories. Just as with insulin resistance, leptin resistance can develop and prevent weight loss. Leptin resistance can occur over time due to the similar factors that cause insulin resistance: increased inflammation from diet, lifestyle factors (lack of exercise/poor sleep), and chronic stress. Overeating, excess snacking, crash diets, and poor blood sugar imbalances can also contribute to leptin resistance. The good news is that leptin resistance can be reversed with proper dietary and lifestyle interventions.


Want to take a comprehensive look at your hormones? Schedule your appointment today!


Be well,

Dr. Yas