10 Important Hormones Which May Cause Weight Gain


Our body makes hundreds of hormones like insulin, thyroid and growth hormone etc. Each hormone is unique and is responsible for important functions. Many of those hormones can signal that we need food and how we are spending our energy. 

Weight Gain
Weight Gain
Hormones play a major role in controlling our body weight as they are responsible for hunger, appetite, as well as the amount of fat storage. To understand this let’s take an example of Cortisol hormone. Cortisol which is also called stress hormone is responsible to stimulate fat and carbohydrate metabolism. It creates a surge of energy in our body. In case of chronic stress, there are chances to have high cortisol levels which increases our appetite leading to weight gain. 

Another example is Hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is a condition where thyroid hormone is lower than the normal levels. Thyroid hormone is also responsible to regulate our metabolism. A lower-than-normal levels of thyroid hormone, may decrease our metabolism and results in weight gain.

In this article we will see some of major hormones which may affect weight gain. The article also includes some tips on how we can manage our food intake to keep the weight in normal limits.

10 Important Hormones Which May Cause Weight Gain

1. Insulin

Reduce Sugar Intake
Reduce Sugar Intake
Insulin hormone is secreted by pancreas. The main function of Insulin hormone is the processing of sugar. It converts sugar into energy. Insulin is also responsible for fat storage in our body. Therefore, we must change our life style and modify our diet to reduce our sugar intake if we wish to lose weight. 

It is very challenging to manage insulin‐related weight gain in individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Diet alone cannot control weight gain brought on by insulin. In clinical practice, irregular adherence to a suggested diet is frequently seen, even with specialized/comprehensive support from nutritionists and diabetes educators. In individuals with type 2 diabetes who are taking insulin, exercise is still another crucial part of lifestyle modification.

2. Leptin

Leptin hormone was discovered in 1994. It is responsible for lipid mobilization oxidation and lipid synthesis. Leptin plays an important role in regulating food intake, body mass, angiogenesis and lipolysis. Our body's white adipocytes cells secrete the hormone leptin. One of leptin’s crucial roles is believed to be as an indicator of inadequate or insufficient intake of food or starvation. 

Feeling of Hunger
Feeling of Hunger
Fasting, low-calorie dieting, and uncontrolled type 1 diabetes are the conditions in which leptin levels decline. 

In these situations when the level of leptin hormone is low feeling of hunger is stimulated while energy expenditure is reduced. This may stimulate other physiologic adaptations to bring back fat stores, and in turn leptin levels, to baseline. 

Our body may become resistant to this hormone in some circumstances (such as an inflamed hypothalamus or elevated insulin levels), which would increase our hunger and, as a result, our weight. We must reduce our intake of fatty, sugary foods and engage in daily exercise to fix or overcome the impact of Leptin hormone.

3. Ghrelin

Meal Initiation
Meal Initiation
Ghrelin hormone is secreted by stomach. Its secretion depends on our body’s nutritional state. It is responsible for our food intake as well as energy expenditure. It is believed that Ghrelin hormone interacts with the hypothalamus of our brain to stimulate hunger. Ghrelin is also called “meal initiation” or “hunger hormone". 

Studies on animals suggest that long-term ghrelin administration results in weight gain due to hyperphagia. There was increased activity of enzymes which encourage fat deposit in the adipocytes. 

4. Cortisol

This one is also known as the “stress hormone”.  It is secreted by our adrenal glands. Studies have shown that 70% individuals tend to increase their food intake under stress however, a decrease in food intake is seen in 30% individuals. Increase food intake is a kind of coping mechanism in chronic stress and is termed as “comfort eating”. 

Therefore, we need to avoid stressful conditions and stressor. We need to develop coping strategies to overcome stress. It may vary from person to person however, sound sleep, soothing music or engaging in some creative hobby may be helpful. Exercises have both benefits. It reduces stress and anxiety on one hand and increase energy expenditure on the other.

5. Ovarian Hormones

Estrogen is an ovarian hormone. Data from human and animal research establish a substantial role of ovarian hormones for weight gain. Ovarian hormones especially estrogens are believed to be involve in the regulation of female adipose tissue. Ovarian hormone influence eating, energy expenditure, amount and distribution of adipose tissue. An increase or decrease level of estrogen from normal level, can cause weight gain. 

6. Neuropeptide Y

Neuropeptide Y  or NPY is a 36–amino acid peptide which is mainly secreted by neurons. Neuropeptide Y plays a significant role in food intake and obesity. Immunity and cardiovascular regulation are other function of NPY. Studies show that the NPY gene is linked with obesity by increasing food intake, decreasing energy expenditure, and increasing energy stored as adiposity. Increasing protein intake as well as taking meals at regular intervals may help to keep the NPY level at normal.

7. Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 (GLP-1)

Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) is a 30-amino peptide hormone. It is produced by endocrine L-cells situated in the intestine. It mainly affects our appetite and food intake. A decline in the secretion of GLP-1 may result in the development of obesity, whereas increased secretion may be responsible reactive hypoglycemia. Protein-rich foods such as whey protein, fish, and yogurt may help to control GLP-1 levels and thus the weight gain. 

8. Cholecystokinin (CCK) 

L-cells of the duodenum and small intestine produce Cholecystokinin. It is secreted in response to food intake and stimulates secretion of pancreatic hormone, bile secretion and inhibition of gastric emptying. 

The risk of obesity (60%) is more in people with a particular variant of the cholecystokinin gene. Cholecystokinin and leptin hormones act together to regulate hunger signals. An imbalance of hunger and satiety signals in brains may be seen in obese people. 

9. Peptide YY (PYY)

Peptide YY or PYY is a 36-amino-acid protein. This hormone is produced in the gastrointestinal L-cells, mainly located in the colon and rectum. Studies have shown a positive relation between PYY and obesity. 

10. Thyroid

Independent of physical activity, thyroid dysfunction is linked to changes in body weight and composition, core body temperature, and total and resting energy expenditure. Additionally, weight gain frequently occurs after treatment of thyroid dysfunction . Weight gain, reduced thermogenesis, and a lower metabolic rate are typically related with both overt and subclinical hypothyroidism.

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  1. Hormone levels change through our lige is important to check them out at least one time a yesr

  2. This post was really informative. I didn’t know much about all of these hormones. Thank you for sharing.

    Lauren - www.bournemouthgirl.com

  3. This post took me back to my Biochemistry class in college. You did a great job of breaking down the information to very easily understood language. Would be interesting to see how the pandemic has impacted people's cortisol levels. I am sure this hormone was partially responsible for the weight covid weight gain. Appreciate your informative post.

  4. Interesting information. Thanks for sharing

  5. I've never heard of most of the hormones listed so this was really interesting! I think hormonal imbalances is something that definitely isn't talked about enough.

  6. Such an interesting article. I knew about some of these, but not all of them. I've heard of a lot of people who thyroid problems which go undetected.

  7. This is such an informative post. Excellent way to explain how our hormones affect our weight etc. Thank you for sharing. 🤗

    Pastor Natalie (Examine This Moment)

  8. Great post! It's so important to understand the role hormones play in weight gain.

  9. This was so informative and kind of helps explain a few things for me. I must admit that I didn't know much of this!

  10. I did not know about these hormones. I’m going to get treated for some of these.

  11. This is a very informative article. It makes want to ask for more information from my doctors.

  12. Fantastic post and very insightful. I've struggled with my hormones for years, namely misfiring stress hormones! But sadly my consultant has nothing to offer me but 'stress reducing' techniques despite the fact it's a chemical issue. - Nyxie


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