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How Hormones Can Make You Fat?

Do you carry excess weight and never seem to lose it no matter what you do? Would you like to know why this might be and how you can do things differently?

There are highly complex interactions chemically and hormonally that can affect our weight. Although it is very complex overall, there are five key players that I will concentrate on in this post, because when you  have an understanding about these players, it will really help you to be as healthy as you can and lose weight.  
We are talking about:
  • Leptin
  • Insulin
  • Ghrelin
  • Thyroid Hormones (T3 and T4)
  • Cortisol


Coming from the Greek 'leptos' meaning thin, Leptin reduces appetite and increases your metabolic rate. Leptin is produced by fat cells so it stands to reason that people who are overweight have high Leptin levels. However, After a few days on a restricted calorie diet Leptin levels naturally fall in response to the fall in total calorie intake. Our metabolic rate also falls subsequently and this means it's not only harder to lose the weight but also easier to put it back on. You see only after a week of dieting, your Leptin levels can fall by 50%!! 
The trouble is that not only does Leptin fall but this drop affects other important hormones that I will talk about later in the post....Thyroid hormones (hormones extremely important to metabolism) respond by falling, and the abdominal fat-storing stress hormone cortisol shoots up!


Produced by the pancreas in response to abnormally high levels of sugar in the blood (such as when we eat a chocolate bar or anything containing simple sugars), Insulin gives the body a very powerful message:
"Get these sugar levels down as fast as you can by storing them as fat"!
So ANYTIME you have eaten simple sugars and your blood sugar levels are raised above the acceptably healthy range, you are asking your body to deposit fat. 

What is Ghrelin?

Ghrelin is a hormone released by your digestive tract that regulates your levels of satiety. When you miss meals Ghrelin levels increase and make you want to eat more. This is why eating small and frequent meals is a very effective adjunct to a weight loss and healthy eating plan because this helps keep your Ghrelin levels steady and therefore keep you feeling satisfied. Excess Ghrelin has the effect of slowing your metabolism so the saying that excess weight causes excess hunger is absolutely true in this case!

Thyroid Hormones

If your thyroid gland is under functioning this means you have lower levels of the thyroid hormones T4/T3. These hormones regulate your metabolic rate and as such a lack of them means a slow down in metabolic rate. This is turn means fewer calories are required and weight gain is almost inevitable. Thyroid hormones interact with Ghrelin and other chemicals that tell us when we are full, so if your thyroid hormones are inadequate your Ghrelin levels will be out of balance and you will want to eat more. In addition, thyroid hormones are important for Leptin levels, because when T4/T3 is present in insufficient levels the effectiveness of Leptin is reduced. 
In addition, it is understood that Thyroid hormones help chemical transmitters in the brain function effectively. Some of these chemicals are involved in regulation of satiety, taste and food choice. If your thyroid hormones are out of wack, the levels of these brain chemicals change and so does your food behaviour. As Ridha Arem says in his informative book "The Thyroid Solution" to which I am indebted for information, " thyroid hormones also have direct effects on the appetite centres in the brain" (p123).
If you have unexplained weight gain as well as fatigue, it may be wise to see your doctor to get your thyroid levels checked. In this case ask for your TSH, T4, T3, reverse T3 and thyroid antibodies. 


Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands. See more info on these important glands here. Stress can cause high levels of Cortisol to be present and when this happens more visceral abdominal fat is stored. Some people have a greater Cortisol response than others to the same stressors and may be more sensitive to the effects of their own Cortisol. So relaxation is key for weight loss!
So what are the Key steps for a healthy eating plan for weight loss? The mainstay of any effective weight loss is that it is slow and part of a permanent healthy eating plan.


Here are my top 10 healthy weight loss tips:

  1. Relax: Make sure you have a regular activity that promotes relaxation in your day/week. This may be exercise, meditation, yoga or Tai Chi.
  2. Exercise 4-5 days a week
  3. Eat frequent and small meals with a protein source in each one.
  4. Choose complex carbohydrates instead of simple carbs to keep insulin levels low
  5. Never ever eat hydrogenated fats
  6. Avoid saturated fats from animal sources and get your good fats from sources such as avocado and flax seeds.
  7. Add an Omega 3 supplement into your diet
  8. Drink 8 glasses of water a day and eliminate all other calorie laden drinks
  9. Get sufficient sleep to help maintain your Leptin levels
  10. One day a week have a cheat day and eat some foods containing high carbs and fat to trick your body into raising your Leptin levels again.
Happy Health and Homeopathic Prescribing!
© Sam Adkins 2011
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This article was brought to you by Sam Adkins The Homeopathic Coach who teaches families about healthy living and natural remedies using homeopathic medicine. An internationally renowned expert, her helpful articles are regularly syndicated online.  She publishes the ezine Homeopathy @ Home to provide free Homeopathic tips, tools and resources to educate and inspire you to use Homeopathy at home. Get Sam's BLOG.


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Reader Comments (10)

Yes sometimes thyroid can cause of weight gain. This may appear to be the one factor of which the hormones regulates differently. But through the different side of thyroid sickness appears to be in opposite situation.

Thank you for your kind share at first and I also want to know more about this focus from your insight which will motive me, will come here again and agian.

February 16, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCoach outlet

I have gone through a lot of weight loss articles and think this provide just what i wanted. thanks for sharing, i look forward to your new post

February 18, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlex Blaken

I want to thank the blogger very much not only for this post but also for his all previous efforts. I found this site to be very interesting. I will be coming back to this site for more information.

February 28, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterherbal remedies

I believe hormones can play a part in your weight, but that is not to say that there is nothing you can do about it. It just means you might have to try a little harder to shift the weight.

March 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJay

My doctor back then didn't believe in chronic fatigue syndrome," James says. "It was still up in the air; people didn't believe it existed and now its real as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is the most common name given to a variably debilitating disorder or disorders generally defined by persistent fatigue. thanks for sharing.

March 5, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlex Blaken

Great information here backed by scientific explanation. Good job! Can i add eat food that will raise your metabolism level? :)

You are so right, "Is the body so much more than food" the bible tells us. We can eat the wrong foods and pay the consequences, so to will we suffer if we don't take the time to unwind and repay the body for all it does for us. Great post!

March 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHealthy Weight Loss

Weight loss is another way in which our longevity genes that have been turned on by resveratrol can benefit us. Sirtuins cause our cells to burn off excess fat inside of our bodies, much the same way as calorific restriction does. The physical process of the fat in our cells being burnt is energy intensive and this will cause a further bodyweight reduction.

April 17, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermartin Resveratrol

i think the weight issue can sometimes be hereditary as far as i know

May 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMsSlimfastdiet
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