5 main hormones should be balanced to regulate body mass and help to lose weight, they are insulin, leptin, estrogen, thyroid, and cortisol.

Despite what we’ve long been told, and the pervasive amount of food- and fat-shaming in our culture, the number on the scale isn’t always a simple reflection of the number of calories we consume vs. the number we burn.

In fact, the stress brought on by extreme diets and exercise can undermine them entirely — and actually cause weight gain. Often the real key to losing what may be unwanted belly fat, and gaining energy, clarity, and a better mood lies with your hormones.

Experts have found that weight loss resistance is nearly always hormonally based in women. Hormone imbalances have the greatest effect on women’s weight — not to mention their mood and happiness.

Hormones and Excess Weight

Sometimes diet and efforts at the gym just don’t pay off on the scale — do you believe that weight loss comes down to one calorie in, one calorie out? It is believed that weight loss is just a case of simple math— that all it takes is to “eat less and exercise more”. Millions of women are made to feel bad by this common misperception, i.e., that they just need more self-control when it comes to weight loss. Which is totally wrong.

Very often, stress hormones like, for instance, cortisol may cause weight gain if it is three times what it should be. Cortisol causes belly fat deposits, PMS, and a short fuse in women.

Another hormone responsible for weight is insulin. If it is too high, which makes blood sugar high (it happens if insulin doesn’t do its main job, which is driving glucose into cells), excess weight tends to appear.

Leptin is a hormone responsible for controlling appetite. If it is blocked, it can cause you to be ravenous. If your thyroid is borderline slow, it leads to hair loss and fluid retention, and excess fluid results in excess weight.

The solution here is to fix your hormones. It is going to help you lose weight, improve your mood, become more generous and patient, as well as improve your energy for daily tasks.

Calorie-in/calorie-out hypothesis has been widely disproven and remains the greatest misconception people have about diet and weight loss. Calories matter, more to some people than others, but hormones matter more.

The research shows that 99 percent of weight loss resistance is hormonal. Almost anyone who struggles with weight also battles a hormone imbalance. Weight loss becomes easy once hormones are back in their sweet spot. Hormones control how efficiently a calorie makes you fat.

Most diets don’t work for women, because they fail to address the hormonal root causes that are the most common reasons for weight loss resistance, like excess cortisol, insulin and/or leptin blockage, estrogen dominance, a sluggish thyroid, low testosterone, and problems with the HPA (hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal) control system.

What is the typical hormonal imbalance that causes us to have trouble relinquishing weight?

The main hormone that’s out of whack is cortisol (which ends up disrupting other hormones, too). Your body makes cortisol in response to stress, but most of us run around stressed too much of the time, and our cortisol is off as a result.

High or dysregulated cortisol levels wreak havoc over time, depleting your happy brain chemicals like serotonin, robbing your sleep, and making you store fat — especially in your belly. High cortisol is likewise linked to depression, food addiction, and sugar cravings.

The root cause of cortisol imbalance is usually a dysregulated HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) axis, which is the boss of all of your hormones:

When the HPA is up-regulated, you churn out too much cortisol. Result? Muffin top, feeling like you’re constantly racing from task to task, feeling wired but tired, quickness to anger and irritability, rapid weight gain.

Over time, the HPA can get burned out and become down-regulated. Then you feel a lack of stamina, have a tendency to hold a negative point of view, catch colds frequently, and you may experience thyroid problems that improve briefly before you crash again.

Since the root cause is usually the HPA, the key is to reset it, starting with cortisol. Any other attempts at fixing the hormones will likely fail in the long term if the wayward HPA is not addressed.

Breaking Down Key Hormones Problematic for People

Insulin: Insulin is a fat-storage hormone. Insulin resistance or block means your cells can’t absorb the extra blood glucose your body generates from the food you eat — when that happens, your liver converts the glucose into fat. Insulin resistance usually causes weight gain and sugar addiction.

Leptin: High leptin causes weight gain and excessive hunger. Leptin is nature’s appetite suppressant. When you’ve had enough to eat, leptin signals your brain to stop eating. When you are overweight, your fat cells produce excess leptin. When your brain gets bombarded with leptin signals from too many fat cells, it shuts down; leptin levels keep rising, receptors stop functioning, your body doesn’t get the leptin signal, and you don’t feel full. You keep eating the wrong foods in an addictive pattern, and you keep gaining weight.

Estrogen: Estrogen dominance is when you have too much estrogen compared with its counter-hormone, progesterone. Having too much estrogen in the body causes a number of symptoms, including weight loss resistance, moodiness, PMS, and heavy periods.

Thyroid: Your thyroid acts as the gas pedal of your metabolism, managing how fast or slow you burn calories. When the thyroid is sluggish, it can cause weight gain, fluid retention, hair loss or thinning, depression, and constipation, among other problems.

How to learn that hormones might be out of whack?

When your hormones are in balance, neither too high nor too low, you look and feel your best. But when they are imbalanced, you feel miserable, with a range of symptoms that include fatigue, sugar cravings, weight loss resistance, bloating, belly fat, trouble sleeping, anxiety or irritability, and constant stress.

You won’t really know if your hormones are to blame for your symptoms until you get some basic blood work done. So, record your symptoms and check in with a physician to ask for blood work.

Below is a list of the tests mostly recommended for patients.

Blood panels to ask a doctor to order (for a morning test after an 8-to-12-hour fast):

  • Cortisol
  • TSH, free T3, reverse T3, free T4
  • DHEA
  • Testosterone: free, bioavailable, and total
  • Insulin
  • Leptin
  • Glucose
  • Hemoglobin A1C
  • ALT (to check the liver)
  • If overweight: leptin, IGF-1 (growth hormone)
  • If you still have your period: Day 3 estradiol, Day 3 FSH, Day 21-23 progesterone
  • If menopausal: estradiol, FSH

Urine testing. Consider the complete hormones profile test. Either will tell you about your adrenals (both short- and long-term function), and your estrogen metabolism, which can tell you if you have too much wear and tear from cortisol as well as if you have a modifiable tendency toward breast cancer or not, or a risk of osteoporosis.

A genetic test. There are seven key genes that are important when it comes to weight loss, hormone balance, and feeling younger; and they can all be tested via a genetic test.

Find out everything you want to learn about hormonal balancing and weight loss by applying for a free consultation here.