8 Fat Hormones That Are Blocking Your Weight Loss Efforts

As a woman, trying to lose weight can be very frustrating. Sometimes it feels like you’re doing everything right but you just can’t ditch those pesky pounds. For some women, the first few pounds are the hardest. For others, it’s those last five pounds that won’t budge. Regardless, it’s enough to make you want to throw the scale out the window and never strap a tape measure around your waist ever again. But what if I told you that when it comes to weight loss, you’re focusing on the wrong thing? Rather than worrying so much about the number on the scale, it’s time to turn your attention to your hormones.

Trying to lose weight can be frustrating. If you feel like you're doing everything right, it may be your hormones. See 8 fat hormones that block weight loss.


You may not even realize it, but your body’s hormones have a major impact on your pant size. For many women, an overload or lack of certain hormones are actually blocking weight loss efforts. Now for some good news — there are a few small lifestyle changes that you can make to get your hormones working in your favor rather than against you! Find out which hormones have a major effect on weight, plus what you can do to balance your fat hormones, below:

1) Adiponectin

Adiponectin is a hormone that regulates glucose levels, breaks down fatty acids, enhances muscle’s ability to use carbohydrates as energy, boosts metabolism, and increases the rate at which the body breaks down fat. Those are all important factors if you’re looking to lose weight and/or maintain a healthy weight.

Numerous studies have linked low adiponectin levels with weight gain and obesity. Here’s some bad news — researchers have found the more fat a person has, the lower their adiponectin levels are. On the flip side, a thinner person who has a low body fat percentage has more adiponectin being released from their fat cells.

It’s important to raise low adiponectin levels since this hormone impacts more than just weight. Researchers say:

“Recently, it has been observed that lower levels of adiponectin can substantially increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, atherosclerosis, and cardiovascular disease in patients who are obese.”

What You Should Do:

To help your body produce more adiponectin, first, take a close look at your diet. You’ll want to introduce some magnesium-rich foods into your daily meals. Some magnesium-rich foods include spinach, pumpkin seeds, almonds, avocados, and figs. You also want to eat more monounsaturated fats and less carbohydrates. Plus, regular exercise can go a long way in producing adiponectin hormone (especially in overweight individuals). 

MG foods


2) Ghrelin

Have you ever experienced food cravings shortly after a meal? Have you ever stayed up late because you just needed to eat a sugary cupcake or some greasy potato chips? If so, chances are your ghrelin levels were elevated. Ghrelin is often referred to as the “hunger hormone.” To put it simply, the higher your ghrelin levels are, the hungrier you are. In certain studies, researchers found people given the hormone ate significantly more than their usual food intake. This particular hormone is mainly produced in the stomach and works by signaling the brain to let it know the body wants food. It also stimulates the brain’s “pleasure centers,” making you remember how good that first bite tasted. I suppose that’s why it’s so hard to eat just one cookie! Researchers call this whole process the stomach-brain connection. 

If you are someone who thinks they can beat cravings by starving yourself then think again! Reducing calories in an effort to lose weight has actually been known to drive up ghrelin levels. Researchers found elevated hormone levels in people even after they spent 12 months on a reduced-calorie diet. So, in other words, your body never truly adapts to eating less and will continue to alert the body that it’s hungry. 

What You Should Do:

To help keep you feeling full, feed your body healthy fats and protein. While diet plays a role in ghrelin levels, new studies show prioritizing sleep is one of the main factors in reducing this hunger hormone. Chronic lack of sleep increases ghrelin, making you feel hungry when you don’t really need to eat. General guidelines suggest you get somewhere between seven and nine hours of sleep per night. While that may sound difficult to do since there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to get all of your tasks done, it’s important to set aside enough time to rest. If you are someone who has trouble falling asleep (or staying asleep) then it’s time to create a relaxing evening wind down ritual that you follow every night before tucking yourself into bed. 

hormones and weight loss


3) Leptin

Leptin is another hormone that plays a large role in appetite and weight loss. It’s released from your body’s fat cells and then interacts with your brain (the hypothalamus to be exact) to decrease appetite and burn more calories. Leptin essentially lets the brain know that the body is full and has stored enough fat. Opposite of ghrelin, leptin is often called the “starvation hormone.” The more body fat a person has, the more leptin their fat cells will release. Obese people have very high levels of leptin. While that sounds like it would be a good thing, a person can become leptin resistant.

Leptin resistance is a condition where the hormone’s important “I’m full” signal isn’t delivered to the brain. When this happens, the body thinks it’s starving (even when it isn’t). It’s important to note that leptin resistance can be reversed. As you lose weight, leptin will become more effective.

What You Should Do:

Similar to how you decrease ghrelin levels, in order to increase leptin levels you need to clean up your diet and get enough sleep. As far as diet goes, make sure to eat plenty of healthy fats, protein, and soluble fiber. You also want to avoid processed foods and lower your triglycerides. 

Additionally, when researchers studied the effect of lack of sleep on ghrelin they also found poor sleep negatively impacts leptin. 

Lastly, studies suggest physical activity could help reverse leptin resistance. 


4) Insulin Imbalance

Insulin is an important hormone that’s produced in the pancreas and affects the entire body. It allows glucose from food to enter your body’s cells and be broken down to produce energy, which is essential for your cells to work properly. Insulin also plays an important role in helping your body recover from intense workouts and maintain proper blood sugar levels. If you’re overweight, however, there’s a good chance your insulin levels aren’t in balance. That negatively affects the breakdown of stored fat. 

Let’s step backward for a second to talk about how someone’s insulin becomes imbalanced. You see, insulin and carbohydrates are closely linked. The more carbs you eat, the more insulin will be released in the body. An overload of insulin leaves glucose (AKA sugar) to run wild in the body. The result? Instead of using the excess sugar to feed your muscles after exercise or produce energy for your cells, most of the carbs you consume just get stored as fat (unwanted fat). For people who have insulin resistance, it feels like they will never be able to get rid of the excess fat. However, there are a few things you can do. 

What You Should Do: 

First, cut back on bread and baked goods that are loaded with carbohydrates. Instead, aim to get your carbs from fresh fruits and vegetables. Be careful with the amount of fruit you eat, though. After all, sugar is sugar. 

Also, a recent study found that consuming two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before a carb-heavy meal could help reduce blood glucose level for people who are insulin resistant. This works so well that researchers said vinegar may actually possess effects similar to prescription drugs that are designed to regulate blood sugar. 

hormone and weight loss 2


5) Estrogen Dominance

Estrogen is an extremely important hormone when it comes to sexual reproductive development, especially in women. This is the hormone that plays a large role in the development of breasts, pubic hair, and hips. It also helps regulate women’s menstrual cycles. These are just a few ways estrogen benefits the body. In women, estrogen is mainly produced in the ovaries. This hormone is also produced by fat cells and the adrenal glands. Throughout a woman’s life, estrogen levels are constantly changing. Take menopause for example (a time when estrogen drops). During any change, it’s important to watch out for something called “estrogen dominance.” Estrogen dominance is a condition where a woman has deficient, normal, or excess estrogen, but has little or no progesterone to balance its effects on the body. To put it simply, estrogen levels are dominant to progesterone levels. One symptom of estrogen dominance is weight gain. 

What You Should Do:

Focus on your diet. Eat a lot of fresh vegetables and fiber-rich foods. Since estrogen is excreted through the bowels, it’s important to pass regular movements if you are estrogen dominant. If you don’t, estrogen will be reabsorbed. You may even want to try a liver detox since the organ works as a filtration system. 


6) Cortisol

When your body is put under stress it goes into a mode that’s referred to as “fight or flight.” When in this mode, the body produces the stress hormone “cortisol.” While this is beneficial in certain situations, prolonged stress leaves the body with elevated cortisol levels that reach an unhealthy point. Excess cortisol negatively impacts weight in a few ways:

Cravings – According to the American Psychological Association, nearly 40 percent of Americans report overeating or eating unhealthy foods as a result of stress. This is partly because cortisol increases cravings, especially for sweets and carbs. 

Fat Storage – Oh, the dreaded muffin top! High cortisol levels lead to a larger percentage of fat stored in the abdominal area. 

Muscle Breakdown – Your body’s muscles help burn fat and boost metabolism. Unfortunately, lack of exercise isn’t the only thing that leads to muscle breakdown. When your body’s cortisol levels rise, your body will breakdown muscle tissue for energy. This impacts your metabolism and can lead to a gain in fat. 

cravings

What You Should Do:

Between work, family, and everyday obligation, people are stressed to the max. While it may be easier said than done, if you want to lower your body’s cortisol levels then you have to chill out! Here are a few ways you can naturally de-stress:

  • Go for a walk outside
  • Exercise
  • Practice yoga
  • Meditate
  • Journal
  • Drink soothing teas
  • Eat stress-fighting foods
  • Take an Epsom salt bath (AKA detox bath)
  • Sleep

7) CCK

Cholecystokinin (CCK for short) is referred to as a “gut hormone” since it’s released into the intestines after you eat certain foods. Upon that release, CCK communicates with the central nervous system and works to stimulate slow digestion of fat and protein. By slowing the rate of digestion you will feel full for a longer period of time. Have you ever noticed that when you eat protein or a healthy fat food that it fills you up? That’s because of CCK!

In one study, researchers injected participants with a mixture of CCK and Leptin. They found that a single daily injection significantly enhanced weight loss. 

What You Should Do:

Make sure you are consuming enough protein and healthy fats. 

cck


8) Irisin

Irisin is often referred to as the “exercise hormone” since it’s more present is people who are physically active. This hormone was first detected in 2012 by researchers at Harvard Medical School. While some scientists questioned the true existence of this fat hormone, new research shows irisin is in fact real and capable of reprogramming the body’s fat cells to burn more energy rather than store it. Studies have found that when someone does regular aerobic exercise their irisin levels rise. It then turns white fat into brown fat, which is a huge positive when it comes to weight loss. That’s because brown fat continues to burn off calories even after someone finishes their workout. 

Along with weight loss, researchers said irisin can benefit brain health and slows down the aging process. 

What You Should Do:

It’s important to note that irisin levels don’t appear to increase after one workout session. Rather, you need to do regular aerobic exercises. If you feel like you don’t have time to go to the gym, don’t worry! There are plenty of exercises that you can do at home in under 10 minutes!

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2 Comments

  1. kate says:

    would it be helpful or harmful to take both tori and viviscal for hair growth. i have lost so much hair in the last 6 months! i’m 54 and in menopause, so i know that’s part of the reason why. thank you!

  2. Thanks Melissa! Great article i avoid these things to my weight loss program.

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