A fit body and a lean structure is every woman’s dream. Other than overconsumption of foods and less physical activity, hormonal imbalance is one of the major causes that induce women to gain weight. Even after a proper diet and an extreme workout, if you are unable to shed that stubborn fat off your body, the cause may be a hormonal imbalance. Losing weight is not just about consuming a balanced diet.
It also involves keeping your hormones in check. Hormones are in control of critical functions and reactions such as inflammation, glucose uptake, metabolism, inflammation, etc. The triggers of an aggressive hormonal imbalance can be age, genes, uncontrollable hunger, metabolism, poor lifestyle choices, stress, indigestion, and more- eventually leading to weight gain.
Stubborn belly fat, low energy levels, food cravings, indigestion, and slow metabolism are all hormone imbalance symptoms. Without triggering your curiosity, let’s find out the essential hormones which might be behind your weight gain and how you can manage to treat them. Here we go!
Top 10 Hormones Responsible for Weight Gain in Women
Present at the back of your neck, the thyroid gland is affirmative in producing calcitonin, T3, and T4 hormones. These hormones stimulate sleep, brain development, metabolism, growth, heart rate, etc. Sometimes thyroid gland produces less quantity of thyroid hormone which leads to a condition called hypothyroidism.
Usually, it is relative to depression, weight gain, fatigue, slow heart rate, high blood pressure, constipation high cholesterol, and more. There are several causes of hypothyroidism such as malnutrition, gluten intolerance, and environmental toxins. The condition of hypothyroidism causes to water accumulation and not fat that makes you look plump. You might gain over 10 pounds if your weight gain is the cause of thyroid imbalance(1).
How to balance thyroid hormone?
- Consume vitamin D supplements and fish oil
- Consume iodized salt
- Eat well-cooked food
- Avoid intake of raw vegetables
- Consume food items rich in zinc such as pumpkin seeds and oysters
- Get TSH- Thyroid Stimulating Hormone along with T4 and T3 tested
- Get your report checked from a physician
- Take medicines if prescribed any by the doctor
Insulin hormone is a secretion of the pancreas which is helpful in the transportation of glucose to cells to be stored as fat or used as energy. It helps in the maintenance of glucose levels in the blood. Overconsumption of food, artificially sweetened drinks, alcohol, processed foods, etc.
can lead to the condition of insulin resistance in the body. In such a case, the muscle cells are unable to recognize the insulin bound with glucose, and thus, it remains in the bloodstream causing a hike in the blood sugar levels of the body. It ultimately leads to weight gain and sometimes diabetes.
How to balance the insulin hormone?
Keep your blood sugar in check and look out for the symptoms of diabetes. Consult your doctor if any.
- Start working out for a minimum of 4 hours a week
- Avoid alcohol, artificially sweetened drinks, processed foods, late night snacks, etc.
- Drink at least 4 liters of water daily
- Consume nuts, flaxseeds, fatty fish, olive oil to improve your fatty acids and omega three levels in the body
- Consume low-calorie food which holds high nutritional value
- Consume seasonal vegetables, green leafy veggies, and seasonal fruits
Leptin causes weight gain(2). Under normal circumstances, the leptin hormone is a signal that you are full and should not eat anymore. But due to overeating of food high on sugar such as chocolates, candies, fruits, and junk food, the overdosage of fructose in the body leads to fat deposition on belly, liver, and other areas of the body.
These fat cells secrete leptin. The more you consume such foods, the more secretion of leptin takes place in the body. Due to such scenario, the leptin hormone desensitizes and stops sending a signal to the brain to stop eating. It eventually causes weight gain.
How to balance leptin hormone?
- Get proper rest
- Sleep deprivation is a significant cause of leptin desensitization
- Eat in breaks
- Eating every 2 hours rather than eating in long gaps is better
- Avoid food with high sugar content
- Stay hydrated, and dehydration sometimes leads to making you feel like you are hungry
Popularly known as the ‘hunger hormone,’ ghrelin helps to control appetite and increases the deposition of fat in the body. The stomach is responsible for secreting it. A tiny amount of ghrelin also gets secreted by the brain, pancreas, and small intestine. High level of ghrelin in the blood causes weight gain. Obese people react more sensitively to ghrelin(3). The levels of ghrelin also increase when people follow a strict diet or fast.
How to balance ghrelin hormone?
- Eat fresh vegetables, fruits, dietary fiber, healthy fats, and protein-rich food.
- Heave six meals in a day.
- Keep yourself active.
- Eat in every 2 hours.
- Drink two glasses of water before meals.
- Consult a doctor if the problem continues.
Both low and high level of estrogen leads to weight gain. High level of estrogen is a cause of overproduction of this hormone by the ovarian cells or due to an estrogen-rich diet. When your body produces more estrogen than it requires, the cells which are producing insulin suffer stress. It makes your body resistant to insulin and causes weight gain due to high sugar levels in the body.
Other than this, when women suffer from the premenopausal syndrome, the supply of estrogen is not enough. In such a case, the body starts looking for other options to produce estrogen. One of them is fat cells. In search of estrogen, your body starts to convert all energy sources to fat cells to replenish the levels of glucose. It causes weight gain in reciprocation.
How to balance estrogen hormone?
- Consume fruits, whole grains, and veggies
- Workout every day
- Go for yoga preferably
- Avoid the consumption of processed meat
- Avoid alcohol
- Keep in touch with your doctor to make necessary amendments in your lifestyle to main the level of estrogen
Cortisol majorly gets secreted when you are depressed, nervous, stressed, angry, anxious, physically injured, etc. as it is a steroid hormone. Energy mobilization and regulation are two significant functions of cortisol(4). It is helpful in the designation of fat and carbs in the body for day to day activities.
It transports energy from fat reserves to empty cells. But due to bad eating habits and poor lifestyle choices, your body reaches a state of constant stress. It causes a hike in the secretion of cortisol which triggers in the body a condition of hyperinsulinemia causing fat deposition and maturation of fat cells.
How to balance cortisol hormone?
- Since the leading cause of cortisol imbalance is stress. You need to make your mind and body free of it. Find yourself a hobby and take out time in your daily routine to go about it. Learn new skills, listen to music, read books, take a walk, watch movies, etc.
- Spend time with your friends and family. Your close ones will never judge you and help you find your best self.
- Make a to-do list. Tick the tasks that you complete each day. It will make a good reminder for you and also make you feel good about yourself.
- Dedicate one hour of your day to meditation, yoga, and deep breathing.
- Get at least 8 hours of sleep each night.
- Avoid alcohol, deep fried foods, and processed foods.
Women also encounter small levels of testosterone secretion. It helps women to strengthen bones, improve libido, burn fat and strengthen muscles. In women, the ovary produces testosterone. Stress and age significantly reduce the reduction of testosterone hormone.
A lower level of this hormone has adverse effects in loss of muscle mass, bone density, obesity, and depression. You may face increased stress and fat accumulation.
How to balance testosterone hormone?
- Include food items with high fiber content in your diets such as prunes, whole grains, flaxseeds, and pumpkin seeds
- Work out daily to boost your metabolism and improve the levels of testosterone
- Work on your intake of magnesium, probiotics, and vitamin C supplements to avoid constipation
- Take protein and zinc supplements
- Consult your doctor to keep check of your testosterone levels
Progesterone and estrogen hormones need to have a balance for the proper functioning of the body. The level of progesterone can lower due to menopause, use of contraceptive pills. Overconsumption of antibiotics, stress, etc. It converts the amount of progesterone in the body to estrogen ultimately making the body fall for weight gain and depression(5).
How to balance progesterone hormone?
- Avoid stress
- Exercise regularly
- Practice yoga, meditation, or deep breathing
- Avoid the consumption of processed meat
- Consult with your gynecologist to get a professional opinion on the use of contraceptive pills and birth control options
The pineal gland secretes melatonin in the body and is responsible for maintaining the circadian rhythm, i.e., rising and sleeping time. The levels of melatonin tend to increase after evening and continue to improve till late at night and till early morning. So, if you sleep in a dark room, melatonin levels rise in your body, and your body temperature falls.
As this happens, growth hormone is released in the body, making the body to improve body composition, heal, increase bone density, and build lean muscle. However, a disrupted circadian rhythm causes inadequate sleep which further leads to improper growth and induces weight gain.
How to balance melatonin hormone?
- Sleeping in a dark room is mandatory
- Do not eat late at night
- Consume almonds, coriander, goji berries, sunflower seeds, cardamom, cherries, etc. as they contain melatonin
- Get 8 hours of sleep
- Turn off all your mobile phones, laptop, and other gadgets before going for bed
An initial step of the healing process is inflammation. However, chronic inflammation leads to unfavorable outcomes. Weight gain happens to be one of them. Glucocorticoids(6) regulate fats, proteins, and sugar in the body. A study says that glucocorticoids enhance protein and fat breakdown but reduces sugar or glucose utilization as a source of energy. It causes a hike in the blood sugar levels which leads to insulin resistance in the body. Insulin resistance further causes diabetes and even obesity if not treated.
How to balance glucocorticoids hormone?
- Reduce mental and physical stress to lower inflammation in the body
- Eat fruits, healthy fats such as fish oil, nuts, olive oil, seeds, etc., leafy veggies, and lean protein
- Drink 4 liters of water daily
- Get 8 hours of sleep daily
- Take a walk every day to improve mental activity and as a work out regime
- Do not go for crash diets as they may enhance inflammation
- Spend time with your family and friends if you are a target to depression, PTSD, anxiety, etc
- Talk to a person who has an expertise in the same if you have the above conditions
- Get some ‘me time.’
A healthy mind lies in a healthy body. For an appropriate brain function, your body needs to stay fit. Hormonal imbalance can be tricky. However, a few precautions and regimes in your day to day activities and lifestyle choices can treat it entirely. For a healthy and fantastic body, you need to put one your efforts and work on them daily. Achieve the body you have always dreamt of by keeping your hormones in check.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What medical issues cause weight gain?
Diabetes, tiredness, steroid treatment, thyroid, stress, sleep deprivation, and fluid retention are the major medical issues which lead to weight gain.
2. Does hormone replacement therapy make you gain weight?
Estrogen therapy has its beliefs of making you gain weight. However, it may not be right for all cases. Untimely menopause may, however, cause weight gain.
3. What causes stomach bloating?
Abnormal build-up of fluids in pelvis or abdomen may cause bloating as well as weight gain.