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How hormones affect your weight loss

Hormones play a significant role in our ability to lose weight. Discover exactly how they affect weight loss, and what you can do to balance them.

Steph Gregory
Steph Gregory
Health coach
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How hormones affect your weight loss

It can be frustrating when we struggle with weight gain or find it challenging to lose weight, especially as we age. However, it's important to remember that our hormones play a pivotal role in our weight loss. By understanding the relationship between our hormones and weight gain, we can take steps to support our bodies in achieving optimal hormone functioning. With a few lifestyle changes, we can lay the groundwork for sustainable weight loss, promoting our overall health and well-being.

In this article, we'll explore how hormones affect your weight, how to balance them, and the connection between hormones and emotions. We'll also provide practical tips and insights to help you on your weight loss journey.

The impact of hormones on your weight

Hormones are like little messengers in our bodies, telling different parts what to do. While some actions can influence hormone levels, other changes are beyond our control. For example, men can boost their testosterone levels by working out, but women can't stop the natural decrease in estrogen levels during menopause.

Here's how the 8 most relevant hormones affect your body weight.

  • Leptin: Produced by fat cells, leptin helps control hunger by working with the brain. Overweight individuals often have higher leptin levels but lower sensitivity to it, so they don’t feel full after eating. Scientists are still studying why this happens.
  • Ghrelin: Released by the stomach when it’s empty, ghrelin signals the brain that it’s time to eat. Its levels peak before meals and decrease after eating.
  • NPY and PYY: These hormones, produced in the pancreas, affect hunger differently. NPY increases hunger when we eat less, while PYY rises when we eat, especially foods rich in short-chain fatty acids or polyunsaturated fats, helping us feel full longer.
  • Cholecystokinin (CCK): Released by the intestine when we eat fat or protein, CCK triggers digestive enzyme release, slows stomach emptying, and reduces food intake, making us feel full and satisfied.
  • Dopamine: This neurotransmitter creates feelings of pleasure and satisfaction. Too much dopamine can lead to food addiction, causing overeating.
  • Cortisol: Known as the stress hormone, cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands. Chronic stress raises cortisol levels, leading to weight gain, especially around the abdomen.
  • Estrogen: This hormone affects fat storage in women. During menopause, decreasing estrogen levels cause fat to be stored in the stomach area instead of the buttocks and thighs.

How to balance your hormones

When trying to lose weight by reducing food intake, hormones like leptin, ghrelin, and NPY change. Rapid weight loss or very low-calorie diets can activate hunger hormones, causing weight gain. To maintain hormonal balance and avoid weight regain, aim to lose no more than 1kg per week.

  • Increase PYY Levels: Eat foods rich in fiber and protein. Fermented foods can also help increase PYY levels, promoting satiety and aiding weight loss.
  • Boost CCK: Consume healthy fats and protein regularly. Good protein sources include fish, chicken, lentils, tofu, and beans, while healthy fats are found in olive oil, avocado, and nuts.

For personalised guidance on portion sizes and incorporating various food groups into your diet, speak with one of our experienced nutritionists at Embla. Our team provides one-on-one health plans that focus on healthy and sustainable weight loss through nutrition and lifestyle support.

The link between hormones and emotions

The food we eat impacts our emotional and physical well-being. For instance, sugar provides a quick energy boost followed by a crash, leading to health complications and emotional instability. Other factors also influence your emotions, such as:

  • Cortisol and stress: Managing stress levels is crucial for maintaining balanced cortisol levels and preventing weight gain, especially around the stomach. High cortisol and stress can lead to emotional eating, a significant barrier to weight loss. Certain foods can trigger dopamine release, leading to addictive eating behaviours.
  • Exercise: Regular physical activity helps stabilise hormone levels, improve mood, and manage emotional eating.

Conclusion

Understanding the complex relationship between hormones and weight loss is essential for achieving your health goals. By making informed lifestyle changes—such as eating balanced meals, managing stress, and staying active—you can support your body's hormonal balance and work towards sustainable weight loss.

At Embla, we are committed to guiding you every step of the way. With personalised plans, expert guidance, and practical resources, we make it easier for you to navigate your weight loss journey. Together, we can help you achieve lasting well-being and a healthier, happier life.

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Steph Gregory
Steph Gregory
Health coach
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