Page Description: Hormones are one of the other factors that contribute to weight loss besides dieting and exercising. Hormones can promote weight gain and inhibit weight loss, making them a crucial factor to consider in your weight loss journey. In this article, we’ll look at several hormones and the role they play in our weight loss.
What are hormones?
Hormones are chemicals produced by specialized glands in the body to regulate certain body activities such as growth, fertility, and metabolism. They are transported through body fluids and act as messenger molecules that signal body parts to carry out certain functions.
Ten functions of hormones
Hormones perform and regulate different complex body activities such as:
- Growth and development
- Sexual stimulation
- Promote digestion
- Fertility and reproduction
- Cell signaling
- Mood regulation
- Body temperature regulation
- Regulate thirst and appetite
- Regulate cognitive function
Roles of hormones in weight loss
Several hormones control body metabolism, breakdown and storage of fats, and energy. An imbalance in the secretion of these hormones can lead to increased hunger and slow metabolism, posing a barrier to your weight loss journey. Hence, it is crucial to consider hormonal balance alongside exercise and dietary intake.
Let’s look at some hormones and how they affect weight loss.
Insulin is a hormone that the pancreas secretes to regulate the amount of sugar in the blood by decreasing the blood sugar level. When you eat, the body secretes more insulin to regulate blood sugar, help the cells absorb sugar from the blood, and maintain energy balance.
The more the body secretes insulin, the more difficult it becomes to break and burn fat. Before the body starts to burn fat, it has to use up the stored glucose(sugar) in the body. Hence, an increase in insulin secretion indicates an increase in blood sugar, which means the body has more sugar to burn before it can start to burn fat. When this happens, it means that there’ll be an increase in the level of accumulated fat in the body, which can slow down or hinder your weight loss journey.
To control insulin secretion in the body, limit your intake of grains, and avoid alcohol, late-night eating, and carbonated drinks. Eat more fruits and vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables, drink enough water daily, maintain a good level of Omega-3 fatty acids, and work out regularly.
Serotonin, also called the happy chemical, is a hormone secreted by the brain and neurons for mood regulation and stabilization. It is also an appetite suppressant that helps to curb your intake of food by decreasing your level of cravings and giving you a satisfying feeling.
An imbalance or decrease in the secretion of serotonin can result in fluctuations in mood and cravings, which leads to depression, anxiety, and overeating. Overeating can lead to weight gain which can hinder your effort to lose weight.
To maintain your serotonin level, avoid taking alcohol, take protein supplements, exercise regularly, consume more fiber-rich food, and drink enough water daily.
Ghrelin, which is also called the hunger hormone, is produced in the gut to signal the brain that the stomach is empty and you need to eat. In other words, unlike serotonin which suppresses appetite, ghrelin increases appetite, fat deposition, and the secretion of growth hormones.
The secretion of ghrelin is stimulated by fasting or lack of food. Once there is no food in the stomach, ghrelin alerts your brain that the stomach needs food, and that’s when you start to feel hungry.
When losing weight, the body needs less secretion of ghrelin. Hence, the level of ghrelin secreted in the body has to be balanced. To maintain the body’s ghrelin level, exercise regularly, drink water a few minutes before meals, and eat fresh fruits and protein-rich foods regularly.
Motilin is somewhat like ghrelin because they both alert the brain that you need food. However, unlike ghrelin, whose primary function is to stimulate hunger, motilin is produced by the intestine to help to transport food through the gastrointestinal tract.
When your stomach is empty, there’s no food for the motilin to transport. Hence, it alerts the gut by inducing contractions in the intestine, which alerts the brain that you need to eat.
The body produces motilin throughout the day, meaning that you have the motilin level in check. Increased production of motilin can lead to overeating, which can cause weight gain and hinder your weight loss journey.
To maintain your body’s motilin level, eat regularly but avoid eating plenty of carbs. Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, drink water regularly, and exercise regularly.
Estrogen is the sex hormone that develops and regulates the female reproduction system and sexual activities. High secretion of estrogen can make the body resistant to insulin, causing a rise in blood sugar levels, and leading to weight gain.
Normally, it is the ovarian cells that produce estrogen. However, low estrogen levels also cause the body to source estrogen from other cells like fat cells, which now convert all available energy in the body to fat, leading to weight gain.
Overproduction and low estrogen secretion are both threats to your weight loss journey. Hence, you need to balance the estrogen level of the body. To maintain the body’s estrogen level, exercise regularly, avoid processed meat and alcohol, and eat more fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Adiponectin is a protein hormone that helps the body to prevent insulin resistance by regulating blood sugar and breaking down fat. Adiponectin helps to lose weight by breaking down fat, thereby reducing accumulated body fat.
Obesity is often associated with low Adiponectin levels. That’s to say, a high or balanced adiponectin level promotes weight loss, while a low adiponectin level promotes weight gain and puts a person at risk of obesity.
To enhance adiponectin for weight loss, exercise regularly, take Omega-3 and fiber-rich supplements, drink enough water, get enough sleep, avoid alcohol, and avoid processed food.
GLP-1 is a hormone produced in the intestine to regulate blood sugar level and prevent it from becoming low. Glucagon suppresses appetite, and promotes carb and lipid metabolism, leading to weight loss.
To enhance glucagon production for weight loss, eat more protein-rich food and reduce your intake of low-carb diets.
CCK is a hormone released by the small intestine to facilitate digestion. During digestion, once fats and protein enter the small intestine, CCK causes the gallbladder to contract to give the brain a sense of satisfaction. Thus, reducing the intake of food which leads to weight loss.
An increased level of CCK promotes weight loss, while a lower CCK level promotes weight gain. Hence, you have to maintain the CCK level of your body. To maximize the body’s CCK level, include fatty and proteinous food in your diet regularly.
Cortisol is a steroid hormone the adrenal gland produces to control the body’s response to stress. When somebody is anxious, angry, sad, injured, depressed, nervous, or stressed, the adrenal glands release cortisol to reduce stress by hampering the immune system, increasing blood sugar, and enhancing carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism.
Although cortisol helps to burn fat leading to weight loss, increased weight loss can lead to weight gain. Hence, one needs to maintain the body’s cortisol level. To optimize the body’s cortisol level for weight loss, get enough sleep, hang out with friends and family, do what makes you happy, and practice yoga and cardiovascular exercise regularly. Also, avoid alcohol, processed food, and deep-fried food.
Leptin, also called fullness hormone, is a hormone that helps to maintain body weight. It acts as an appetite suppressant by promoting fullness hormones and inhibiting hunger hormones and stimulators, leading to weight loss.
Leptin helps to regulate hunger and energy balance in the body. When a person takes sugar-rich food, leptin alerts the brain to reduce food intake and burn calories. However, high leptin secretion can make the brain resistant to leptin’s alertness, which leads to overeating and weight gain.
The good thing about leptin is that the more a person loses weight, the more sensitive the person becomes to leptin, making it easier for the body to reduce food intake and lose weight.
To enhance leptin secretion in the body, eat food rich in antioxidants such as fresh fruit and vegetables, get enough sleep, and drink enough water. Also, avoid eating processed foods, sleep regularly, and drink enough water.
If you are on a weight loss journey, you need to know the level of each hormone in your body to enable you to position yourself better to achieve better results in your weight loss journey. Overall, weight loss isn’t a swift process. It takes time, patience, intentionality, and consistency. Don’t be overwhelmed trying to get rid of unnecessary fat from your body. If you follow the methods of enhancing the hormones we have discussed, you will find that in no time, your goal to reduce your weight will succeed.
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