What Role Do Hormones Play in Weight Loss?

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A person measuring their waistline with a yellow tape measure, symbolizing weight loss and fitness.

Our body is made of billions of cells, which interact with each other with a chemical substance produced by the glands and organs of our body known as hormones.

Hormones are extremely important to regulate pretty much everything in the body from hunger, satiety, sleep, growth, etc.

But what role do they play when it comes to weight loss? Let’s go over some of the most important hormones for weight loss in the body.

1. Insulin

It is a storage hormone that is released from the beta cells of the pancreas into the bloodstream, its primary task is to push the nutrients present in the bloodstream into the cells.

Insulin is known as the key that unlocks the cells so that it can absorb the nutrients from the bloodstream.

However, over time when the pancreas has to release insulin repetitively because of unhealthy eating habits, the pancreas stops working properly, or the cell membranes become insensitive to insulin, which leads to type 2 diabetes.

Role in Weight Loss

When the cells are not responding to insulin, the accumulated blood sugar in the arteries potentially can cause inflammation, it could also lead to gluconeogenesis which means insulin may promote fat storage by converting the unabsorbed glucose accumulated in the bloodstream.

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2. Ghrelin

Remember the sensation of a rumble in your stomach? It’s ghrelin to thank for, it is a key digestive hormone also known as the “hunger hormone”.

It is produced in the gastric pit (stomach) and released into the bloodstream which travels to our brain and gives a signal to the hypothalamus that the tummy is empty and ready for more food, Yay!

The secretion of this hormone goes up when the stomach is emptied. It also aids in insulin release and plays a key role in heart health.

When someone is on a caloric-restrictive diet, the ghrelin level shoots up causing more hunger in the body.

Role in Weight Loss

It has been indicated from a study conducted by the New England Journal of Medicine that people who have lost weight with restrictive diets have high levels of ghrelin for a certain period, which is why most people who lose weight have a hard time keeping it off without restricting calories.

The reason is, that when you are at a particular body weight for a long period, your body sets that weight as the default one and when you shed that excess weight the body increases the hunger hormone which in turn results in going back to old eating habits and putting on the lost weight either gradually or quickly.

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3. Leptin

You can call this hormone your guiding angel since it signals your body to stop consuming any more food by providing a feeling of fullness and satiety.

Leptin is secreted from the adipose tissues in the body i.e. the fat cells.

Leptin triggers the hypothalamus when the tummy is getting full which eventually causes us to not feel hungry anymore.

Since it is secreted from the fat cells of the body, the higher the amount of fat cells you have the more leptin will be present in the body.

Similarly, the lower the amount of fat cells, the lower the leptin levels will be in that individual.

Role in Weight Loss

Leptin’s primary job is to keep an eye on your appetite, it needs to pull the lever by sending a message to the hypothalamus gland situated in the brain that enough food has been eaten.

However, when an individual is obese, it means he or she will have more amount of fat cells resulting in a higher amount of leptin being present in the body.

After a while, because of the continuous presence of leptin, the body stops responding to it causing the brain to think that the body is still hungry which results in the person continue eating in large quantities to satisfy his/her hunger.

This state is called Leptin resistance.

Low levels of leptin in the body rarely happen but it does in some cases with people who have a genetic condition causing a lack of leptin in the body.

When the body doesn’t have a normal amount of leptin it makes it think that more fat cells are needed causing the ghrelin levels to stay high and leading to overweighting and obesity.

4. Cortisol

Cortisol is a hormone secreted from the adrenal gland which is located above our kidneys. It is also known as the stress hormone mainly because it is triggered when we are stressed out.

It could be acute stress, for example, finishing up a task in front of you, or chronic stress, when you are continuously under duress every day over a number of things in your mind.

Cortisol is also needed for other important functions such as controlling blood sugar levels. reducing inflammation in the body.

Role in Weight Loss

When the body has elevated cortisol it can halt or slow down important functions such as digestion, fat burn, and proper functioning of the reproductive system, leading to erectile dysfunction in men and low libido in women.

Certain studies have also shown that when cortisol is constantly spiked in the body it leads to fat deposition in the belly area, which is also known as toxic fat.

Hence it’s important to take note of our mental health and pay attention to it as much as we do to our physical well-being.

You can be working out and following a proper healthy diet yet if you are constantly stressed with high cortisol present in the body, You won’t get the desired results.

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5. Growth Hormone

Ever seen those big muscles in bodybuilders and people who hit the gym regularly? It’s the Growth hormone doing all the magic. It’s also known as the “fitness hormone” because it’s linked with fat-burning and muscle gain.

Role in weight loss

When we are in a state of deep relaxation growth hormone is released from the small pea-shaped pituitary gland located at the back of our brain.

All the cells, tissues, muscle growth, and fat burning take place when we are asleep. Hence sleep is of the utmost importance without which all of the above tasks stay undone.

People who are obese have been shown to have less amount of GH in their bodies compared to people with a normal weight.

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When estrogen levels are balanced, it’s easier to maintain a healthy weight. But when levels are too high or too low, as can happen during menopause or due to hormonal disorders, estrogen can contribute to weight gain.

Estrogen is not just about female reproduction. It has a hand in controlling body weight too. It helps regulate metabolism and body weight by influencing both appetite and energy expenditure.

Role in Weight Loss

In weight management, estrogen works behind the scenes. It’s involved in body fat distribution, typically directing fat to deposit around the hips and thighs.

However, when estrogen is out of balance, this pattern can change.

High levels of estrogen, or estrogen dominance, can make it harder to lose weight, especially in the abdominal area.

On the flip side, low estrogen levels, like those during menopause, can lead to an increase in appetite and a decrease in metabolic rate, both of which can contribute to weight gain.

Furthermore, estrogen interacts with other hormones like leptin and ghrelin, which regulate hunger and satiety. Imbalances in estrogen can disrupt these signals, leading to increased food intake and challenges in managing weight.

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Hormones play an important role in pretty much everything we do, Our mood, desires, fitness, and heart health.

Therefore it’s equally important to keep it in balance, Our body is an intelligent mechanism, it knows how to regulate itself we just need to create a proper environment in our mind for everything to function properly by acknowledging the fact that the mind and body are not separate.

Hence we must do all we can to keep everything in balance mentally, the intelligence of the body will take care of the rest.


Which hormone is responsible for weight loss?

There is no single hormone responsible for weight loss; it’s a complex interplay of hormones. However, thyroid hormones, estrogen, and testosterone all significantly influence metabolism and body composition, which can impact weight loss.

What are the 3 fat-burning hormones?

The three fat-burning hormones are glucagon, adrenaline, and testosterone.

How can I activate my hormones to lose weight?

Regular exercise, a balanced diet, sufficient sleep, and stress management can help regulate hormones that affect weight.

How to lose weight with a hormonal imbalance?

Consult a healthcare provider, follow a balanced diet, engage in regular physical activity, and possibly medication to manage the imbalance.

How do I reset my 3 hormones to lose weight?

To reset hormones, focus on a nutrient-rich diet, consistent exercise, proper sleep, and stress reduction techniques.

This post may contain affiliate links which means I may receive a commission for purchases made through links at no extra cost to you. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Rahul is a professional nutritionist certified by the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) and a personal trainer certified through the American Council of Exercise (ACE). He has a special interest in the science of nutrition and how it can impact the body.

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