Hormones and their Effects on Weight

Beyond how much you exercise, or how healthy your foods are, your body's ability to lose weight can be attributed to your hormones.

Hormones are powerful chemical messengers present in the body that influence appetite and fat storage. They also control the body's metabolism, and can greatly affect how much weight you lose or put on. Hormonal imbalance makes weight loss more difficult, and may be the reason why you're stuck in your weight loss journey.


Below are hormones that affect your weight loss journey, and how to balance them to create a healthy weight.


1. Insulin


Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancrease, is responsible for fat metabolism and regulation of glucose (sugar) in the blood. It ensures that excess energy gotten from glucose is stored in blood cells for use in the future.


Consuming fast food, carbohydrates, processed food or foods with high-sugar content can lead to insulin resistance - a condition where your cells block insulin, and high levels of blood sugar.  Insulin resistance is also common in people who're overweight. High insulin levels in the blood can cause weight gain and Type 2 diabetes.


In order to improve insulin sensitivity and lower insulin levels,  it is advised that you cut down on carbohydrates and sugar, substituting them with healthier options like protein and omega 3 fats.


2. Ghrelin


Also known as a “hunger hormone", ghrelin is a hormone present in the stomach that is responsible for appetite stimulation. Ghrelin levels are high when you're hungry, and low when you're full. Generally, ghrelin levels are higher in people who are obese, and this induces them to eat more, even when they're full. This leads to overeating and weight gain.


In order to normalise ghrelin levels, consider reducing your intake of sugary substance as they can spike ghrelin levels even when you're full.


3. Leptin


This hormone is produced by fat cells and is termed "satiety hormone" because it helps in appetite reduction and creates a feeling of fullness. Leptin sends signals to the hypothalamus in your brain that regulates your food intake. It is also know to control overeating and how body fat storage.


While leptin is produced by fat and is usually higher in people who are overweight, it has a reverse effect on fat people as they tend to develop  leptin-resistance and this drives them to eat more.


To improve your leptin sensitivity, ensure to get enough sleep and exercise, while cutting down on inflammatory foods, foods with high sugar content and trans fat.


4. Oestrogen


This is a female sex hormone produced by the ovaries, and responsible for regulating the female reproductive system. Extremely high or low levels of oestrogen can lead to weight gain. While high levels of oestrogen (common in younger women) causes insulin resistance and high levels of blood sugar, low oestrogen levels is common in more older women whose ovarian cells no longer produce oestrogen.


In order to control your body's oestrogen levels, make sure to engage in physical activity, and include vegetables, flaxseeds and fiber-rich foods in your diet.


5. Cortisol


Cortisol (stress hormone) is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands and is usually released when your body is stressed. High cortisol levels can create problems in your weight loss journey as it can lead to overeating and hyperinsulinemia, which causes weight gain.


To control cortisol levels in the body, endeavor to avoid stress and sleep more. Also ensure to eat balanced meals without extremely cutting down on calories.

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