The Link Between Weight Gain and Hormones

You go on a diet with a friend or partner, thinking that having someone to share the experience with will keep you accountable and provide a built-in support system. Then the inevitable happens – the weight seems to magically fall off of your dieting partner while you lose very little weight or, worse, gain weight.

The experience leaves you confused and frustrated and wondering how that’s even possible. The team of physicians, registered dieticians, and dietitian nutritionists at Cardio Metabolic Institute are weight loss specialists and are here to inform you about metabolism and hormones.    

Hormones affecting weight management

There are more than 50 different hormones in the body that directly or indirectly dictate nearly all aspects of your health by telling your body what to do and when to do it. For weight gain and weight management, several hormones play a significant role, including insulin, leptin, and sex hormones.


If you’re among the estimated 38.4 million Americans with diabetes, you’re probably all too aware that losing weight can be particularly challenging. The factor at play here is a hormone known as insulin. When balanced, insulin and blood sugar (glucose) team up to make sure that the cells throughout your body derive energy from food to maintain healthy function.

But when there’s an imbalance of insulin caused by either your pancreas not producing enough insulin, resulting in diabetes, or the cells don’t react to the hormone as they should, known as insulin resistance, the result is the same – too much glucose builds up in your blood system.


A lesser-known hormone, leptin plays a role in sending hunger signals. Fat cells produce and release leptin into the bloodstream. When leptin is in balance, it curbs your appetite by signaling the brain when your appetite is satisfied, thereby reducing the urge to continue eating. Although not fully understood, leptin also appears to have a hand in the management of fat storage.

While it may seem counterintuitive, leptin levels are higher than normal for people who are overweight or obese than for the general population. The way it works is that people who are overweight or obese aren’t as susceptible to the effects of leptin and don’t receive the signal to be full during or after a meal.

Sex hormones

While you may automatically connect sex hormones to the mechanics of reproduction, fertility, and hair growth, they can also play a role in weight gain or, more specifically, body fat distribution.

If you’ve spent any time scrolling through health websites, chances are you’ve run across an article about fat distribution and apple- and pear-shaped bodies. The topic revolves around sex hormones and weight management, which affects both women and men. As sex hormone levels change in both genders, it impacts where they tend to store fat.

Typically, women of childbearing age may appear pear-shaped, as they usually store fat in their lower body. In contrast, older men and postmenopausal women may appear apple-shaped, as they tend to fat around their abdomen.  

Untreated weight gain and cardiovascular disease

While the jury is still out on health implications of pear-shaped bodies, people who store fat around the abdomen or who are overweight or obese are at a higher risk for cardiovascular diseases, the top ranking cause of preventable death in the United States and around the world.  

The good news is that if hormone imbalances are at the core of your weight gain issues, getting treatment can ward off issues like high blood pressure and diabetes that provide a perfect storm for having a heart attack or stroke.

The professional team at Cardio Metabolic Institute can develop a personalized weight loss treatment plan tailored to your unique circumstances. We work together to support and guide you while you learn and adjust to lifestyle changes to help you keep the weight off for a lifetime. 

If you want to better understand the link between your weight and your hormones and you’re ready to begin your weight loss journey to a healthier you, contact Cardio Metabolic Institute at our office in Somerset or Monroe Township, New Jersey, for an appointment.

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