Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
February 27, 2024 ·  5 min read

How Hormones Affect Our Weight and What You Can Do To Improve Them

Hormones play a crucial role in regulating various processes in our body, including our weight. When these hormones are imbalanced, it can significantly impact our overall health and well-being. Understanding how hormones affect our weight and learning how to improve their balance is essential for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. These are the nine hormones that have the most significant impact on our weight and what we can do to improve them.

What are Hormones and How Do They Affect Our Health?

Hormones are chemical messengers produced by various glands in our body. They regulate and control countless bodily functions, including metabolism, growth, reproduction, and mood. These molecules are released into the bloodstream and travel to specific target cells or organs, binding to specific receptors and initiating a response. (1)

When hormones are in balance, our body functions optimally. However, imbalances in hormone levels can lead to a wide range of health problems, including weight gain or loss, fatigue, mood swings, and disrupted sleep patterns. Understanding the relationship between hormones and weight can help us make informed choices to maintain a healthy weight and overall well-being.

The 9 Hormones that Affect Your Weight the Most

There are specific hormones in our body, let’s call them ‘weight loss hormones’ that have an impact on maintaining a healthy weight. When not in balance, these hormones can make it so that it is very difficult for us to lose unwanted fat. Balance these hormones back out, and weight management will become that much easier. These are the nine hormones that can affect weight loss.

1. Insulin

Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that regulates blood sugar levels. It helps transport glucose into cells for energy production. When insulin levels are consistently high due to factors like a high-carbohydrate diet or insulin resistance, it can lead to weight gain, particularly around the abdomen. (2)

2. Leptin

Leptin is known as the “satiety hormone” because it signals our brain when we are full and helps regulate our appetite. When leptin levels are low, it can lead to overeating and weight gain. Another problem is leptin resistance, commonly seen in obese individuals. In this case, the problem isn’t not having enough circulating leptin but rather not responding to it. This is something that scientists are still working to understand better. (3)

3. Ghrelin

Ghrelin is often referred to as the “hunger hormone” as it stimulates appetite. High levels of ghrelin can lead to increased food intake and weight gain. In obese individuals, however, researchers have found that they tend to have low ghrelin levels but are highly sensitive to it. There is ongoing research to better understand this. (4)

4. Cortisol

Cortisol is a stress hormone produced by the adrenal glands. Chronic stress can lead to consistently high cortisol levels, which can contribute to weight gain, particularly around the midsection. Being overweight or obese in and of itself will also raise cortisol levels, making maintaining a healthy weight a crucial aspect of balancing this hormone. (5)

5. Estrogen

Estrogen is a hormone primarily associated with reproductive health in women. Imbalances in estrogen levels, such as low estrogen, can lead to weight gain and a shift in fat distribution. Though low estrogen levels are often associated with excess fat gain, particularly around the midsection, obese individuals can often be found with elevated estrogen levels. (6)

6. Progesterone

Progesterone is another hormone primarily associated with the female reproductive system. Low levels of progesterone can result in weight gain, fluid retention, and bloating. Low levels are also associated with an increased risk of endometrial cancer. (7)

7. Testosterone

Testosterone is a hormone primarily associated with male reproductive health, but it also plays a role in women. Low testosterone levels in both men and women can lead to weight gain and decreased muscle mass. (8)

8. Thyroid hormones

The thyroid produces hormones that regulate metabolism. An underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism, can lead to weight gain, sluggishness, and difficulty losing weight. (9)

9. Adiponectin

Adiponectin is a hormone secreted by fat cells. It aids in glucose regulation and fatty acid breakdown. Low levels of adiponectin are associated with insulin resistance and increased body weight. (10)

Understanding the roles and mechanisms of these hormones is crucial for identifying potential imbalances and implementing strategies to improve weight management.

How to Keep Your Hormones Balanced for Improved Health and Weight

Maintaining hormonal balance is key to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. While it should be simple, we live in a complex world with a vast number of factors influencing our hormones every single day. While some of those might not be entirely in our control, there are plenty of them that are. Here are some tips to improve hormone balance:

  1. Eat a balanced diet: Focus on consuming nutrient-dense foods that support hormone production and balance, such as whole grains, lean proteins, healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables. Avoid pre-packaged, processed foods as much as possible, as well as foods with excess sugar and salt.
  2. Manage stress: Engage in stress-reducing activities like exercise, meditation, or yoga to help regulate cortisol levels and prevent weight gain associated with chronic stress.
  3. Get enough sleep: Adequate sleep is crucial for hormonal balance. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night, with a routine of going to bed and waking up at the same time. Do your best to make sure that bedtime is prior to midnight.
  4. Control carbohydrate intake: Avoid consuming excessive amounts of refined carbohydrates that can disrupt insulin levels. Opt for complex carbohydrates from whole, unprocessed sources.
  5. Engage in regular exercise: Physical activity helps regulate hormone levels, including insulin and cortisol, and supports weight management. Do your best to avoid doing intense exercise too close to bedtime, as this can make it difficult to sleep.
  6. Limit exposure to environmental toxins: Certain chemicals found in everyday products can disrupt hormone balance. Opt for natural and organic products whenever possible.
  7. Maintain a healthy weight: Carrying extra weight can disrupt hormone levels, so maintaining a healthy weight is essential for overall hormonal balance.

The Bottom Line

Hormones play a crucial role in regulating our weight and overall health. Understanding the nine hormones that have the most significant impact on weight allows us to make informed choices to improve hormone balance. By following a nutritious diet, managing stress, getting enough sleep, and engaging in regular exercise, we can enhance our hormone levels and achieve better overall health and weight management. Remember, consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice and guidance on maintaining a healthy hormone balance.

Read More: The Link Between Your Serotonin and Headaches and Migraines


  1. https://www.endocrine.org/patient-engagement/endocrine-library/hormones-and-endocrine-function#:~:text=Hormones%20are%20are%20the%20body’s,function%2C%20reproduction%2C%20and%20mood
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29397563/
  3. https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/11/11/2704
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5756630/
  5. https://physoc.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.14814/phy2.14644
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28982486/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3964851/
  8. https://ugatl.com/services/low-testosterone/can-low-testosterone-cause-weight-gain/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5461198/
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4891796/