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.

Last update: August 02, 2017 04:13:04 pm

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