Hormones and weight loss – the 101 guide

Emma Harpham in partnership with Joi Women’s Wellness   |   19 Oct 2023

Understanding your hormones is so important for getting a baseline understanding of your general health. Not only do they regulate your menstrual cycle, but they’re also in charge of a range of processes in your body.

So when it comes to hormones and weight loss in particular – what’s the deal? 

There’s a whole lot of advice out there (some of it more reliable than the rest!) but the fact is that taking steps to keep certain hormones in check can have a positive impact on your weight and metabolism

We’ve partnered with Joi Women’s Wellness, our go-to for customized therapies and end-to-end wellbeing support, to bring you this no-nonsense 101 guide. 

Joi is all about empowering you to take control of your wellbeing. Connect with them to learn more about their innovative peptide and hormone-balancing therapies, and how they can help you feel like you again, especially if you’re travelling the weight loss road. 

Read on for the 101.

What is hormonal weight gain in women?

Our bodies are finely tuned systems, with hormones acting as the messengers that regulate various physiological processes – including fat storage and breakdown. 

If our hormonal equilibrium is disrupted (which can happen due to a whole host of reasons including stress, inadequate sleep, or perimenopause) it has the potential to leave us with a sluggish metabolism which contributes to weight gain, or even just hinders weight loss efforts.

How do I know if I’m experiencing hormonal weight gain?

You’ve been diligently sticking to a healthy diet and exercise routine, and you feel like you’ve been doing everything right – but you’re not seeing results. If that’s you, you might be experiencing hormonal weight gain. 

There are a few other telltale signs that can signal that your hormones are affecting your weight, like;

  • Persistent fatigue that doesn’t improve with rest
  • A lingering feeling of not being satiated, even after meals
  • Intense and recurring sugar cravings
  • Heightened levels of stress that seem unmanageable

These indicators can prompt a closer look at how your hormones might be influencing your health as a whole.

hormones and weight loss symptoms

What hormone imbalance affects weight loss?

First up, insulin, the blood sugar maestro. When it’s not in harmony, it can promote fat storage when blood sugar levels are high, potentially leading to weight gain. It can also increase appetite and inhibit fat burning, contributing to excess fat accumulation.

Then there’s cortisol. Too much of this hormone can trigger weight gain by increasing appetite, particularly for unhealthy, high-calorie foods. It can also lead to the breakdown of muscle mass, lowering your body’s overall metabolic rate.

You might also struggle to lose weight if you’ve got an estrogen imbalance. If we’ve got too much or too little estrogen, our bodies sometimes try to compensate by holding onto more fat, especially around the waist.

Hormones are (crucially) involved in hunger and fullness, too

Hormones also play a direct and crucial role in regulating our hunger and fullness cues. The two key hormones involved in this regulation are leptin and ghrelin.

  • Leptin is your key fullness hormone that tells the portion of your brain that regulates appetite that you’re full.
  • Ghrelin works in tandem with leptin, and is your key hunger hormone. It tells the portion of your brain that regulates appetite that your stomach is empty and it’s time to eat. 

Other hormones also play a role in regulating hunger and fullness, including peptides. For example, Glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) and peptide YY (PYY) are both released in the digestive tract after eating, and work together to help reduce appetite.

hormonal weight gain

Safe, actionable ways to manage hormones and weight loss

So now we know how it all works – what can we do to support those hormones, if weight loss is our goal? 

1. Stay mindful of nutrition

We know, this sounds like old news. But we don’t mean restricting, either. Eating plenty of protein whilst keeping your diet fairly balanced with fibre and fruits and veggies is a great way to promote hormone balance, with high protein foods like yogurt and whey protein having been found to increase GLP-1 levels, helping us feel fuller and reducing cravings.

Also, keeping your diet balanced rather than drastically cutting out food groups can help regulate insulin levels, preventing insulin resistance that contributes to weight gain.

2. Keep exercising (sensibly!)

In conjunction with keeping an eye on nutrition, regular physical activity can help regulate your insulin and cortisol levels, promoting better balance and reducing their potential impact on weight and metabolism. 

Exercising more can also reduce stress (hello balanced cortisol!) and promote better sleep, another key factor in regulating and balancing your hormones. It’s worth remembering that overexercising can often have the opposite effect here though.

3. Find expert support

For us, Joi Women’s Wellness is the go-to, in the US. Alongside healthier nutrition and movement, their range of weight loss solutions can help you take the work out of battling hormonal weight gain.

They give you the full package, from support with lifestyle and nutrition to your own personal health coach and access to board-certified clinicians who can advise on all sides. And if you’re looking for a real game changer, they are able to prescribe GLP-1 for weight loss medications that are both effective and easy to administer. 

GLP-1 weight loss programs help balance your hunger and fullness hormones, as well as stimulate insulin secretion, signalling to the brain that you are full and reducing cravings. 

Not just another fad diet, these solutions are customized to your goals, and designed for your desired outcome and weight wellness.

A note on perimenopause weight loss

During perimenopause and menopause, 80% of women experience uncomfortable symptoms including weight gain and metabolic changes – both of which make weight loss more challenging. This is due to the hormonal fluctuations, especially those declining estrogen levels we talked about earlier, that this time of life brings with it.

Does this resonate right now? Hop over to the Joi Women’s Wellness menopause care range. Derived from plant estrogens that are chemically identical to those the human body produces, their hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a safe and effective option for tackling symptoms head-on, and supporting perimenopause weight loss.

Start taking control of your hormones and health, no matter where you are on your journey. Schedule a consultation with Joi, and get assigned to a personal health coach who’ll recommend the best next steps for you.

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