Understanding Your Weight Loss Hormones

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The human body relies on over 50 hormones to accomplish different functions and life processes. At the most basic level, hormones are key players in your body’s performance. Today, we will focus on weight loss hormones. 

Many people don’t immediately think about the potential impact of hormones on their weight loss journey. They start their regime, doing everything seemingly right, but the results are not close to what they expected. 

Frustrations creep up on them; they become less motivated to keep going to achieve their weight goals. If you find yourself in such a situation, it’s best to realize hormonal changes or imbalances could be sabotaging your efforts to lose weight. 

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Hormones can make you lose or gain weight through various mechanisms, such as metabolism, appetite, and satiety. You should consider weight loss for hormone imbalance as well. 

Stay with us to learn about weight loss hormones and how to control hormonal imbalances. 

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes


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Insulin 

When discussing the hormones for losing and maintaining a healthy weight, insulin is probably the first hormone that crosses everyone’s mind. Produced in the pancreas, insulin plays a crucial role in keeping blood glucose levels in a healthy range. 

We’ll explain how that works. 

Once the food reaches the intestines, the carbohydrates get broken down into glucose, which is then absorbed into the bloodstream. At this state, the body calls for insulin to move the glucose into the cells, supplying the energy you need for bodily functions. The fat tissues, muscles, and liver will reserve unused glucose. Your body may recall that energy when it runs low on blood sugar.

If anything, for example, a lifestyle habit, affects your insulin sensitivity – and you develop resistance to the hormone, you will be at risk of gaining weight. Your cells won’t respond effectively to signals to take glucose from the bloodstream even when the pancreases release more insulin. The body will put that excess blood sugar into storage. Unfortunately, this often leads to weight problems and other health concerns. 


Glucagon 

Like insulin, glucagon is also produced in the pancreas. The hormone helps in weight loss by turning to the fat reserves, converting them to energy. The pancreas releases glucagon when it picks up the signals of a drop in blood sugars. Your blood glucose levels can drop too low, such as when you’re fasting or exercising. Glucagon and insulin work in harmony to create energy balance. 


Leptin 

Leptin is one of the widely studied weight loss hormones. It is often called the satiety hormone. The hormone keeps your appetite in check, preventing your body from triggering false hunger responses. It is highly effective at balancing energy and fat storage in the long term. 

Leptin is produced in the white adipose tissue (body fat). It communicates with your brainstem and hypothalamus. If a high level of leptin travels into the brain, the hypothalamus will signal that your body has enough fat in store. This makes you less hungry. A drop in leptin signals low fat stores and the need to eat. 

Please note that the weight loss hormone imbalance can occur in some people. In such a case, leptin signaling may not work as required. And this can trigger the response that your body is starving, prompting you to overeat even when your fat stores are full. 


Ghrelin 

The hormone is secreted in the stomach. Most people trying to lose weight may see ghrelin as a bad hormone, as it tells the brain your stomach is empty and needs food. However, this hunger hormone is crucial for your survival. It helps maintain a healthy fat level. 

Weight issues will arise if the gut secrets too much ghrelin. If you experience high ghrelin levels, you’ll want to focus on lowering them to reduce and maintain weight. 


Thyroid hormone 

Thyroid hormone is also one of the well-documented weight loss hormones. TH serves several functions, but we will focus on the weight loss aspect. Your body depends on TH to control its metabolism processes. 

When your thyroid gland is highly active, it produces more TH. Having high thyroid levels will speed up your metabolic rate. This encourages weight loss. 

Some people suffer from hypothyroidism. With this condition, your body cannot produce a sufficient amount of TH. Unfortunately, this weakens your metabolism and increases your risk of weight gain. 


Peptide YY 

Peptide YY is a gut hormone. High concentrations of this weight loss hormone are associated with decreased appetite and reduced food consumption. The less you eat, the fewer calories you feed your body. 


Estrogen 

Women experience a change in estrogen levels during menstruation, pregnancy, nursing, and menopause. These changes affect their body weight. When the estrogen levels are in the highest range, women tend to eat less and are more physically active. Their metabolic rates are also affected. 

A decline in this sex hormone contributes to the inefficient utilization of carbohydrates and sugars. If that continues, the body will accumulate more fat stores, especially around the trunk. It will be challenging to lose weight, and this can increase the risk of other health problems like hypertension and heart disease. 


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Testosterone

Research shows that boosting testosterone can help overweight men to drop a significant amount of pounds. High T levels promote sustained weight loss. 

That’s because sufficient testosterone levels allow the mitochondrial to function effectively, ensuring the energy is well utilized. The men experience high motivation and vigor, encouraging physical participation in activities that lead to better muscles. 


Cortisol 

Life is full of stressors, right, left, and center. When under stress, the adrenal glands will release high cortisol levels. It is a natural response to dangerous situations. 

For some people, though, their bodies are subjected to chronically high cortisol. As such, controlling their overeating habits can prove challenging. These individuals tend to have trouble losing weight and keeping it off. 

Factors like poor sleep habits, prolonged stress, and too much consumption of high glycemic foods may be to blame for chronic cortisol levels. 


Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1)

Glucagon-like peptide-1 is another gut hormone. The endocrine L-cells produce GLP-1 when food enters the intestines. It helps in glucose homeostasis and brings about satiety feelings. When you are overweight, your body may experience GLP-1 signaling issues. If you are diagnosed with diabetes, you can introduce GLP-1 into your medications to lose weight. 


Cholecystokinin (CCK)

Produced in the I-cells of the upper small intestines, Cholecystokinin is also a gut hormone that promotes satiety, together with leptin. CCK is involved in different functions, including energy production, protein synthesis, and digestion. 

People struggling with weight issues are less sensitive to the effects of this hormone. They tend to overeat. Over time, this leads to more weight gain, increasing the risk of chronic health problems. 


How to Control Hormonal Imbalances to Promote Weight Loss 

The best way to go about weight loss for hormone imbalance starts with identifying the hormones derailing your efforts. Some imbalances may have underlying medical conditions that need a diagnosis to know the best course of action. 

Otherwise, lifestyle habits could be responsible for throwing your weight loss hormones out of balance. In line with this, you will need to make changes, including: 

  • Getting active physically and regularly 
  • Changing your diet
  • Getting adequate sleep 
  • Embracing behavior strategies to encourage high-level commitment 

If you are working with a fitness professional, they may recommend weight loss hormone medications, supplements, and therapies. This strategy can help you reverse the abnormalities or control the underlying health issues. Unfortunately, some underlying problems may require a patient to undergo surgical procedures like bariatric surgery and hysterectomy. 


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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What hormones can help you lose and maintain a healthy weight? 

Your body has several hormones involved in weight loss or gain. The common hormones include insulin, leptin, glucagon, estrogen, testosterone, cortisol, ghrelin, cholecystokinin, thyroid hormone, glucagon-like peptide, and peptide YY.

How do weight loss hormones work?

Hormones contribute to weight loss in different ways. Some influence your appetite and speed up your metabolism, helping your body cells to maintain the desired energy levels. 

Other hormones transform the fatty acid molecules in fat stores into energy. Others make you feel full, reducing your food cravings or consumption. 

Can I test my weight loss hormones at home?

If you suspect a hormonal imbalance affects your weight loss efforts, you can test your hormones at home. At-home hormone test kits are effective and easy to use. 

The kit will arrive with a set of instructions to follow when collecting your sample, which could be blood, saliva, or urine. You will need to send back the testing samples to the lab and wait for the results, typically within a few days.

Are there weight loss hormonal imbalances you cannot control?

Even when you follow everything by the book, you may need help from a health care provider to control your weight loss hormones. The doctor may identify where the problem lies. Then, they will give you professional recommendations to create balance and achieve your weight goals.

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