Hormones and Weight Gain: What to Know

Hormones are in the director’s chair for all functions of our bodies. They direct the body what to do, when to do it, and for how long. When our hormones are out of balance it can impact our mood, bones, sleep, metabolism, and lead to other problems. Maintaining a healthy weight with a hormone imbalance can be very hard. Read on to learn about certain hormones and how they affect body weight.

Cortisol is a hormone produced by our adrenal glands. It is known as a stress hormone because it is released in reaction to chronic or prolonged stress. Cortisol may increase appetite and also increase fat storage, especially in the abdomen. And we all know that when we are stressed we also tend to reach for easy-to-grab foods and comfort foods. Cortisol isn’t helping us here because it can increase our cravings for sugary foods. This hormone is also known to increase blood glucose levels. Controlling stress and exercising are your best bet for controlling your cortisol levels.

Ghrelin is known as the hunger hormone as it signals our brain cells to increase our appetite. This hormone also increases the appeal of high-calorie foods leading us to want to grab that cheeseburger and fries rather than the salad. Not a good combination! Ghrelin naturally declines after we eat, so avoiding skipping meals and not waiting too long between meals can help to keep ghrelin levels in check.

Leptin is a hormone that is secreted from fat cells which makes us feel full. This hormone works oppositely as the ghrelin hormone, as it makes it easier for us to resist high-calorie foods. Insulin resistance, a condition among many people who are overweight or obese, can block this hormone’s signal which can make improving weight a challenge for this group of people. Good news though…if you adopt a healthy diet and exercise plan your fat cells can trigger the hormone adiponectin which teams up with leptin to help reverse insulin resistance.

Thyroxine regulates your basal metabolic rate, which is how fast your body burns calories. This hormone is produced in the thyroid. When you have inadequate amounts of thyroxine your metabolism slows down meaning you require less calories and may gain weight. Getting your thyroid level checked and developing a treatment plan with your physician can help balance your thyroid levels to help control your metabolism.

While we can’t control our hormones we can support hormone balance by eating regular nutritious meals, managing stress, and craving out time for physical activity. If you think you have a hormone imbalance, talk with your healthcare provider to find a treatment plan to help you feel your best.

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