How Hormones Affect
Weight Gain

Woman Measuring Stomach

Have you ever experienced weight gain with really no way to explain it? You eat the same foods, exercise the same as you always have, and yet, what used to keep the weight off doesn’t do the trick anymore. 

The culprit? It could be your hormones. Hormones are chemicals produced by glands in the body that regulate bodily functions. As we get older, it’s common for hormone levels to become imbalanced, resulting in side effects such as slowing metabolism and weight gain. Here are 4 hormones that may be causing you to gain weight.



Estrogen and testosterone are sex hormones that play large roles in weight management. While many associate women with estrogen and men with testosterone, both men and women require both estrogen and testosterone to stay healthy. 

As the body ages, both estrogen and testosterone levels decline. In fact, men between 30-70 years old lose 1-3% of their testosterone production per year while women between 20-40 years old lose around 50% of their total testosterone production each year. What’s the big deal about estrogen and testosterone loss? Estrogen loss and testosterone loss can both lead to weight gain, increases in body fat, decreases in muscle mass, and redistribution of body fat to the abdominal area.


Cortisol, commonly referred to as the “stress hormone,” is a hormone that regulates metabolism, blood sugar, and other non-weight-related bodily functions. When the body becomes stressed, it releases large amounts of cortisol to activate what’s known as the “fight or flight” response, an evolutionary condition in which the body prepares itself to respond to a perceived threat. 

In the modern world, however, our perceived threats are not the same as they used to be. We are stressed about putting food on the table, making a good first impression, or getting everything done on time--not necessarily fighting for our lives. These modern perceived threats activate cortisol production, spiking blood sugar, slowing digestion, and priming the body for immediate response--all unnecessary for navigating the average stressful event. For those experiencing frequent and/or significant stress, this means that your body is delivering unnecessary “energy bursts,” which is then stored as fat if left unused. 


Leptin is a hormone that adjusts metabolism based on the amount of energy (fat stores) available in your body. Low leptin levels tell the body that it is starving, causing the metabolism to slow down. On the other hand, when the body has excess energy (fat stores) available, leptin levels should increase, causing the metabolism to increase as well. If operating correctly, leptin keeps your metabolism on track, however, a leptin imbalance can cause unnecessary weight gain or weight loss.

Are your hormones causing you to gain weight?
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151 Adams Lane #18
Mt. Juliet, TN 37122
(615) 453-8999