4 hormones that affect weight loss and fat storage

lady measuring her hips

A lot of research suggests that your ability to lose weight is largely controlled by a number of hormones. Some hormones can increase appetite and fat storage which inhibits weight loss.

In this post, we will cover 4 hormones that can affect weight loss and how to rebalance them to help manage your weight better.

4 Hormones that affect weight loss and fat storage

1. Insulin

Insulin is a hormone released by the pancreas in response to raising blood sugar levels. It is usually present in small amounts throughout the day, but the levels normally rise after eating carbohydrates or foods high in sugars.

Its role is to regulate blood sugar levels by pushing the digested sugars into tissues like muscle and liver. As a result, the sugars are stored in the body as fat to be used for energy later.

Overeating on carbohydrates or foods that are rich in sugars can inhibit weight loss. This is because overeating on carbohydrates or refined sugars can increase insulin resistance and insulin levels. Insulin resistance means that the body tissues like muscles, fat and liver can’t easily take up the sugars. Consequently, insulin can cause weight gain because your body’s metabolism slows down and the body becomes more efficient at storing fat [1] [2].

How to regulate insulin?

There are a few ways to regulate insulin including:

  • Minimise sugary sweets and any food that’s high in sugar.
  • Eat foods rich in fibre
  • Eat foods that are high in healthy fats like the omega-3s. Healthy fats include eggs, oily fish, avocados and nuts
  • Exercise regularly

2. Leptin

Leptin is a signalling hormone that regulates appetite. Its role is to send signals to the brain to inform it that you are full and you no longer need to eat.

This hormone is actually produced by your fat cells, and whenever you diet or reduce your calorie intake, the fat cells begin to shrink. As these fat cells shrink, the amount of leptin that is produced is greatly reduced. This in turn, signals to the brain that there is not enough fat stored leading to a significant increase to the appetite.

As the appetite increases, you are likely to experience severe cravings and an urge to eat. This inhibits or slows down weight loss [3] [4] [5].

How to regulate Leptin?

  • Eat nutritious foods and avoid saturated fats, trans fats as well as sugary foods
  • Exercise regularly
  • Get enough sleep and sleep deprivation reduces the production of leptin

3. Ghrelin

Ghrelin is also a signalling hormone that is opposite to Leptin. This hormone sends signals to the brain when you are hungry to increase your appetite and get you to eat.

Ghrelin is commonly referred to as the ‘hunger hormone’.

This hormone can inhibit weight loss if the body produces too much of it making you feel hungry and increasing food intake. Some research suggests that people who are overweight or obese have significantly more ghrelin circulating in the blood than people of normal weight [6] [7].

How to regulate Ghrelin?

  • Eat foods that are nutritious and rich in fibre instead of foods high I refined sugars
  • Eat meals high in protein as these reduce the production of ghrelin

4. Cortisol

Cortisol is also known as ‘stress hormone’, and it’s released by the adrenal glands.

This hormone is released to support the body during stressful periods of time. If stress persists, the levels of cortisol can remain elevated.

As a result, elevated levels of cortisol can lead to a number of health problems like high blood pressure, fatigue, weight gain, insulin resistance and so much more.

Consequently, weight gain can occur as you can experience higher appetite and cravings for sugary sweets [8]. If you eat foods high in sugar, you are likely to eat more calories than you need causing the excess to be stored as fat.

How to regulate Cortisol?

To regulate cortisol levels, it’s important to manage your stress levels through:

  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Regular Exercise
  • Good sleep for at least 8 hours
  • Listening to calming music


Weight loss is an intricate process that can trigger a number of hormonal changes that can drive an imbalance to other hormones. These changes can affect weight loss and fat storage. To regulate these hormones, it’s important to eat nutritious foods, exercise regularly, and take care of your mental health through sleep, meditation, and more. If you are interested in learning more about weight management and nutrition then check out this online course that will help you expand more on your knowledge and successfully help you lose weight.

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