How Hormones Cause Weight Gain in Women


Do Hormones Cause Weight Gain?

Have you been constantly gaining weight even though you are exercising regularly and eating healthily? Have you been worried that you can`t shed that stubborn fat? It’s time you understood your hormone levels.

Hormonal imbalance is one of the major causes of weight gain. These hormones regulate metabolism and maintaining the body’s weight, reproductive health, and homeostasis. Women are more prone to hormonal imbalance and tend to gain more weight as a result. What hormones are these, you`re probably wondering? Let`s get talking.

10 Hormone Imbalances that Trigger Weight Gain


High and low levels of estrogen could trigger weight gain in women. High levels of estrogen enhance fat deposition, however low levels promote visceral fat accumulation, especially during menopause. Women who are physically active during menopause are in better control of their weight than those who aren`t.


Produced by the adrenal glands, this steroid hormone is mainly secreted when one is anxious, nervous, angry, stressed, depressed, or physically injured. Chronic stress, consuming foods with a high glycemic index,  and inadequate sleep are responsible for an increase in cortisol production. High cortisol levels cause fat accumulation in the abdominal region.


Leptin, mainly secreted by fat cells called adipocytes, regulates appetite, food intake, and energy expenditure. You can maintain a healthy body weight by regulating your leptin levels. People who consume sugar-sweetened beverages, processed foods, and excessive amounts of fructose may suffer leptin resistance and may be at risk of obesity. Excessive fructose intake gets fats accumulated and more leptin secreted. This desensitizes the body to leptin and gets the brain to stop receiving the signal to stop eating. Weight gain unstoppably sets in at this point.


The picture of a modelTestosterone is a male sex hormone that ovaries secrete in small amounts. Testosterone strengthens bones and muscles, burns fat, and improves libido. Insulin resistance as a result of increased adipose tissue leads to low circulation of the sex-hormone-binding globulin, and this causes a reduction in the testosterone level and consequently, an increase in fat accumulation. Testosterone therapy, lifestyle changes, and regular exercise maintain testosterone and lead to weight loss.


This reproductive hormone manages reproductive health and maintains bodily function. Its levels drop during acute stress, menopause, and use of contraceptive pills. Normal progesterone levels lower fat mass. Stress management, regular exercise, and a healthy lifestyle can help regulate your progesterone levels and weight. Also, estrogen-progesterone therapy can improve insulin sensitivity, reduce abdominal fat accumulation,  and reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes, alongside slow its progression.


This peptide hormone regulates blood glucose levels. It gets secreted by the beta cells of the pancreas. Physical inactivity, nutritional imbalance, excessive consumption of alcohol, processed foods, and artificially sweetened drinks may cause insulin resistance and obesity. Insulin resistance increases the secretion of endogenous insulin and causes weight gain by altering the metabolism of glucose. To prevent insulin resistance, you should exercise regularly and lead a healthy life.


Ghrelin is a hunger-stimulant hormone that stimulates appetite and increases fat deposition. The stomach secretes ghrelin when it is empty and decreases its production shortly after a meal. Obese people`s ghrelin suppression rate is lower, compared to individuals with a normal BMI. This is why they tend to eat uncontrollably and gain more weight.


This butterfly-shaped gland is found at the base of the neck and is responsible for releasing triiodothyronine (T3), thyroxine (T4), and calcitonin. T3 and T4 regulate metabolism and body temperature. They also regulate glucose metabolism, food intake, and fat oxidation. Hypothyroidism, also known as imbalances in the thyroid hormones, causes a medical condition mainly characterized by an under-active thyroid gland, decreased metabolic rate and body temperature, alongside a higher BMI. A dysfunction in the thyroid gland can lead to weight gain and the risk of obesity. Contrary to popular opinion, hypothyroidism causes water accumulation, not fat, making sufferers look plump. Severe hypothyroidism could trigger edema. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help you lose weight and improve your thyroid function and body composition.


Melatonin is secreted by the pineal gland. It regulates the circadian rhythm. Melatonin levels usually rise from evening till late at night and decline in the early hours of the day. Inadequate sleep is a common cause of lower melatonin levels, which then leads to a decline in physical activity, stress, and the production of cortisol, a stress hormone. This spikes glucose metabolism and lowers the adiponectin level — a protein hormone that promotes fat breakdown, consequently resulting in weight gain. People who suffer low melatonin levels and inadequate sleep tend to consume more calories at night, then gain more weight and higher BMI.


Glucocorticoids are steroid hormones that regulate insulin sensitivity and fatty acid synthesis. An imbalance in the glucocorticoid levels results in insulin resistance and weight gain.

Symptoms of Hormonal Weight Gain

Now you know the hormones that trigger weight gain; what symptoms should you look out for?

  • Tiredness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Lethargy
  • Headache
  • Depression
  • Puffy face
  • Anxiety
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Indigestion
  • Change in appetite
  • Dry skin

You should consult your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms. You may also go for routine hormonal check-ups as a preventive measure.

Frequently Asked Questions About  Hormonal Weight Gain

Does Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) Cause Weight Gain?

Not all hormonal replacement therapies result in weight gain. Hormones that are steroidal  may lead to central fat accumulation, however, this does not always happen. Some postmenopausal women who are on progestin and estrogen treatment may experience an increase in body weight and fat mass after undergoing the therapy. It is safe to get a full profile hormonal test before carrying out HRT.

How Can I  Lose Hormonal Weight Gain?

ScaleControlling hormonal imbalance can be challenging. One of the most effective methods of putting it in check is through  regular check-ups, lifestyle management, and medications when necessary. Here are some tips to control your weight.

  • Run blood tests if you’re experiencing unwanted weight gain.
  • Avoid eating  processed food, late-night snacks, alcohol, excessively oily foods, artificially sweetened drinks, and other unhealthy items.
  • Consume lots of whole grains, fresh vegetables, and fruits.
  • Exercise regularly and burn more calories.
  • Get enough sleep. Inadequate sleep increases ghrelin and lowers leptin, resulting in weight gain.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Dedicate an hour each day to practice deep breathing, yoga, and meditation to reduce stress.

Some Weight Loss Facts

  • There’s a hormone disorder that causes weight gain in the head and torso, but weight loss in the limbs. Patients who suffer this disorder develop a “moon face” and “buffalo hump”, but their arms and legs remain skinny.
  • There are systemic ways to target specific fat for weight loss.
  • A lot of weight loss occurs through breathing.
  • Factitious Diarrhea is a condition in which you people deliberately make themselves suffer diarrhea as a method of weight loss.
  • Frequent fidgeting can result in losing about 350 calories daily, and about 30-40 pounds of weight loss yearly; but who fidget daily?

Now that you Know…

Hormonal imbalance can cause difficulty in losing weight. Ensure you speak with doctor if you still find weight loss difficulty even after following a healthy lifestyle and diet. You are also advised to lead a healthy lifestyle, check your hormonal profile quarterly, and exercise to burn more calories.