Think that weight gain is all in what you eat and how you exercise? While they definitely play a role, we can’t overlook the part that hormones play. When it comes to losing weight, you need to understand how hormones make you gain weight – and how to tackle it.

With that in mind, let’s look at how different hormone imbalances can feed into your energy balance.

How hormones make you gain weight


Of all of the hormones, this is the one I go on about the most! To put it simply, insulin is our master ‘fat storage’ hormone. When we overeat – especially processed foods full of sugar & flour – insulin promotes fat storage and impairs fat loss.

If you are overweight you are also very likely insulin resistant. Once insulin resistance sets in, the other hormones go haywire. If this is the case for you, tackling the insulin resistance will be the key to weight loss!


This is your main ‘hunger hormone’ that stimulates appetite. If you’re a healthy weight, it will increase before a meal and drop down around 30 minutes after you eat.

But once you add excess body fat that messes up the hormone signals? The jury is still out, but it’s believed one of the problem mechanisms is that you become more sensitive to ghrelin – so even a small amount makes you ravenous.


To counterbalance ghrelin, we have leptin. Leptin is your satiety hormone that lets your brain know that you’re full. But when there’s excess body fat involved, you can develop what is known as leptin resistance. So although you’re producing leptin, your brain still thinks you’re starving. As a result, you feel the need to eat all the time.


If you’ve been around here before, you’ll know that oestrogen is like Goldilocks trying out porridge – we want it just right. But when oestrogen is on the rollercoaster during perimenopause, the low oestrogen periods can feed into insulin resistance.


Despite it being the ‘male’ hormone, we do need some testosterone! Unfortunately, this can quickly be thrown off balance when oestrogen and/or progesterone are low, or if you’re looking at a condition such as PCOS. If testosterone is too high, insulin resistance develops.

Keep in mind – this is the opposite for men. Low testosterone feeds into insulin resistance and fat storage.


You knew I couldn’t talk about weight gain and hormones without talking about the #1 stress hormone! Chronic elevated cortisol leads to high blood glucose levels. This feeds into the elevated insulin and eventual insulin resistance picture.

Thyroid hormones

This is a big one – after all, the thyroid is your metabolism driver! Without sufficient thyroid hormones, every single function and chemical reaction in your body slooooows right down. As a result, you use less energy, and you put on weight.

For the full explanation of the different thyroid hormones and the role they play in weight gain, give this a read.

What else can play a role?

There are also some lesser-known contributors in the energy balance equation. Here is how lesser-known hormones make you gain weight:

Neuropeptide Y – this is produced by the brain. It makes you particularly prone to craving carbs. Leptin inhibits it, but chronic stress and a high-sugar diet stimulate the release!

Glucagon-like peptide 1 – this is produced in the digestive tract. It regulates your blood sugar, inhibits neuropeptide Y, slows the movement of food through the GI tract and reduces hunger. Unfortunately, in both obesity and type 2 diabetes, the release of this is impaired.

Cholecystokinin – this is found in the digestive tract and nervous system. It stimulates the gallbladder and pancreas, supporting the digestion of fat and protein. It also helps to reduce appetite. Like many other hormones, obesity causes you to become less sensitive to its effects.

Peptide YY – you’ll find this in the small intestine. It reduces appetite, limits food intake and slows the motility (movement) of food through the small intestine. And you guessed it – low levels are common in obesity and type 2 diabetes.

So if hormones are to blame for my weight loss struggles… what can I do about it??

I’m glad you asked! There is no quick fix for this situation, nor is there a cookie-cutter diet plan you can find online that is going to solve it all.

The key here is an approach that takes into account everything going on for you: your nutrient levels, your hormones, your health concerns, your lifestyle, and how your body’s metabolism functions. That’s where personalised nutrition is a game-changer.

It’s what I used to release 18kg over 14 weeks (plus I’ve maintained that loss for 2 years and counting!)

If you’re sick of quick-fix, one-size-fits-all options that don’t work for you and your body, I’m here to help. Weight loss might seem impossible in your 40s and beyond, but it doesn’t have to be! By taking a holistic and tailored approach, we can help you to not only look like a million bucks, but also feel amazing in your body.

Book in for a free discovery call today, and we can explore how I can help you to reboot your body and feel good again.