Do Hormones cause Weight Gain?

Various factors can cause weight gain. People usually concentrate on dieting and exercising. Sometimes it helps and sometimes it does not. For those who cannot reach their weight loss goal despite putting significant effort on exercising and dieting, hormones are the most likely causes behind the problem. Hormones are actually directly linked with metabolism, appetite and cravings. It also plays a role in determining part of the body in which fat will be stored. Both men and women have hormones. Levels of hormones can go up or down for various reasons. It is mainly lack of balance in levels of hormones that causes weight gain.

High Insulin 

Insulin is produced by pancreas. It helps process blood sugar or glucose in the bloodstream. It helps carry sugar into the cells to be either used as fuel or stored as fat. Being overweight can make insulin go out of balance. Skinny body with too much visceral fat around the internal organs can also get insulin out of balance. Imbalance in glucose regulator or insulin can make weight loss harder. People in many cases consume too much sugary foods. It keeps insulin busy doing extra work to clear sugar from blood. It stores extra sugars as fat. High levels of insulin, when chronic, can cause a pre-diabetic condition known as metabolic syndrome or insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, which contributes to weight gain. According to an estimate, one out of four North Americans has insulin resistance. Insulin imbalance can also be linked with stress, overindulging in alcohol, lack of physical exercise, family history of diabetes, high blood pressure etc.

High Cortisol

Cortisol controls body’s response to stressful situations. It’s known as stress hormone. Due to increase in stress in modern life, many people have extra amount of cortisol in their bodies. Persistently surplus amount of cortisol is injurious to health and body composition. Those who are suffering from depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress or any digestive issue such as irritable bowl syndrome, are likely to have problem with levels of cortisol. Having surplus amount of cortisol is linked with increased risks of heart disease and increase in visceral fat, as pointed out by leading cardiovascular researchers at the University Medical Center. Extra amount of cortisol can enhance appetite and cravings. It is linked with loss of bone density, muscle and libido. Number of studies suggest that stress hormone can cause increase in abdominal fat even in people who are otherwise slim. Slim women with high cortisol level also had increased amount of abdominal fat, as found out by researchers at Yale University.

High Estrogen

Testosterone can get converted into estrogen in men due to abdominal fat. Increase in levels of estrogen increases the tendency to accumulate more abdominal fat. Higher estrogen levels can increase risks of prostate cancer. High levels of estrogen in premenopausal woman can cause high amount of body fat around the hips. It can also cause difficulty in losing weight. High estrogen is linked with poor motivation, memory loss, depression, loss of muscle mass, low libido and increased belly fat in both men and menopausal women.

Low Testosterone 

Testosterone levels can go down as fat converts it into estrogen. Testosterone levels can also go down due to stress. It is because body tends to produce more stress hormone or cortisol then testosterone when we are under stress. Testosterone level tends to diminish with obesity, aging and stress. However, today men are having decrease in testosterone much earlier in life. What is quite alarming is that low testosterone level has been linked with heart disease, obesity, depression, osteoporosis and even death. Men with low testosterone are very likely to develop potbelly and other body fat, as found out researchers from the University of Washington. Researchers also found that testosterone might contribute to loss of body fat. Loss of muscle tissue, depression and decreased strength, motivation and stamina may be signs of low testosterone.


DHEA is produced by the adrenal glands. It is a forerunner to testosterone and estrogen. It helps counteract the negative effects of cortisol. It is often touted as anti-aging hormone. DHEA enhances ability to gain muscle and lose fat. It enhances libido and helps us feel energetic, youthful and motivated. Low DHEA can deprive us from the positive effects that DHEA has on the body.


Body’s fat cells produce leptin. Leptin’s primary function is to communicate to our brain that we are full or satiated. Modern diet is saturated with a type of sugar known as fructose. Fructose is found mainly in various processed foods. When we consume too much fructose, body stores it as fat. It causes excess amount of leptin. Too much of leptin can cause leptin resistance. It means body does not communicate to our brain that we are full. As a result, overconsumption of food can happen which causes weight gain.

As imbalances in levels of hormones can cause weight gain. It’s a good idea to work on balancing hormones with help of a doctor. Balancing hormones can help eliminate a significant contributor to weight gain.


Can Estrogen help you to Lose Weight?

Estrogen has both positive and negative effects on fat or weight. When it is about losing fat, estrogen is a tricky hormone to deal with. Having too high or too low amount of estrogen can be equally bad. Normal levels of estrogen however can be good for body composition and health.

Estrogen, Women and Fat Loss

According to some scientists, estrogen may be useful in treating obesity and metabolic syndrome or insulin resistance. Normal levels of estrogen indicate that there is enough food around. For premenopausal women, estrogen may enhance fat distribution in a metabolically safer pattern. It keeps fat located under the skin rather than distributing fat around the internal organs. It may not sound much of a good thing. However, it is actually better to have the excess weight without the negative metabolic consequences rather than to have both the extra weight and metabolic consequences.

On the other hand, estrogen is also in a complicated and tangle relationship with body fat or adipose tissue. Fat cell do not just sit around on your hips doing nothing. Fat tissues are important and active part of the hormonal system. The biggest job of the fat tissues is to produce estrogen. Fat tissues have aromatase, which is an enzyme. Testosterone is converted into estrogen due to aromatase. Estrogen comes from ovaries as well, but fat still remains as important part of the hormonal process. What this means is that increased fat will also lead to increased levels of estrogen? Estrogen also can contribute to fat gain. For example, excess estrogen can aggravate hypothyroid issues, which slows metabolism and causes weight gain. In case, the excess estrogen is caused by obesity in the first place, it can quickly turn into a vicious cycle. If you have thyroid problem, you may have overweight issue. On the other hand, if you have overweight issue then you may have thyroid problems too.

High levels of estrogen may also enhance fat gain by hampering oxidation of fats. During early pregnancy, estrogen levels are high and women gain fat even though they have not started eating for two yet, as found out in a study. This means that more calories can get stored as fat due to more estrogen.  

Ovaries are the major producers of estrogen. Women lose weight when they remove ovaries. They gain weight when they are put on estrogen therapy. During puberty, higher estrogen level causes fat gain as an energy reserve or preparation for possible pregnancy. This is understandable as an evolutionary design feature. This becomes problem only when women indulge in overconsumption of fattening foods. That is how healthy and normal preservation of essential body fat goes overboard. A healthy woman need some body fat.

It is not as simple as estrogen prevents weight loss or makes women fat. Healthy range of estrogen is beneficial for women unlike too much or too little estrogen. Therefore, it is useful to find a balance or maintain right amount of estrogen that is good for health and weight. Finding the balance can be difficult, particularly for obese women when vicious cycle involving fat and estrogen get out of control. Addressing estrogen to get to a healthy range can be helpful to manage weight.

Regulating Estrogen Levels for Weight Loss

In case you are struggling with chronic hormonal issues such as PCOS, amenorrhea or infertility, it is best to find an endocrinologist. Endocrinologist may run blood tests and help you with specific advice. Diagnosis over internet is not a good alternate to seeing a doctor in person. Studies found out that following ideas could also help normalize estrogen levels.


Fiber is anti-estrogenic. Increasing fiber consumption is linked with lowered estrogen levels in premenopausal women.


Moderate carb restriction can also be effective in dealing with female hormonal problems that might be associated with weight gain, as suggested by available evidence. In cases of women with PCOS, 55% of calories from carbs works worse than 30% of calories from carbs. On the other hand, it is not good either to be on very strict low-carb diet. For women, extreme carb restriction can cause problems including infertility, hormonal dysfunction and amenorrhea or loss of normal periods. Sweet potatoes are not bad. You can eat sweet potatoes or potatoes reasonably every day and still keep your calorie consumption from carbs under 30%.


This study involved two groups of women. Group 1 consumed diet with 15% calories from protein. Group 2 consumed high-protein diet (30% calories from protein) with emphasis on low-glycemic-index foods. Both groups resulted in losing weight. Group 2 also experienced impressive hormonal improvements, including an improvement in insulin sensitivity and decrease in androgens and markers of inflammation. Even though the study is little complicated as there were simultaneous interventions of the glycemic index and the protein, this seemingly suggests that enough consumption of protein is helpful for hormonal healing.


Fat is crucial for hormonal health as sex hormones including estrogen and testosterone need saturated fat. Saturated and monounsaturated fat are good. It is good to consume more of Omega-3 and less of Omega-6 in your diet.

Learning how too much or too little estrogen is detrimental to health and weight is useful. Trying to keep estrogen at normal level is good for heath and weight. 

Last update: August 27, 2017 07:53:15 pm

Total Hit : Protection Status
Daily Calories Calculator