If you’re easily gaining weight and having difficulties losing it, you should know that you’re not alone and that hormones play an important role in successful weight loss.
As weight-loss experts here at Plato Weight Management, we receive numerous questions daily from clients undertaking our online evidence-based weight loss program of how they can achieve optimal hormonal balances to help weight loss.
Therefore, in this blog post, we’ll break down the several hormones which can limit weight loss and what you can do to improve them.
- Weight & Peptide YY
- Weight & Cholecystokinin
- Weight & Glucagon-Like Peptide-1
- Weight & Leptin
- Weight & Insulin
- Weight & Neuropeptide Y
- Weight & Estrogen
- Weight & Ghrelin
- Weight & Cortisol
Weight & Peptide YY
Peptide YY is a gastrointestinal hormone produced by the intestines and colon that regulates hunger and is considered to have an important role in weight loss (Silva & Bloom, 2012).
Ways you can improve your Peptide YY levels is by:
- Keeping your blood sugar levels low as unstable blood sugar levels may hinder the efficacy of peptide YY. You can do this by undertaking a low-carb diet while limiting refined carbohydrates and sugars and instead focusing on whole foods (Lomenick et al., 2009).
- Consume 30% of your daily calories while dieting from protein sources as it is also thought to help peptide YY levels (Neacsu et al., 2014).
- Consume at least 30 grams of fibre daily to support peptide YY levels (Holzer & Farzi, 2014).
Weight & Cholecystokinin
Similar to Peptide YY, cholecystokinin is another gastrointestinal hormone that helps with increasing your feelings of being full (Little et al., 2005).
Increased quantities of cholecystokinin have been found to decrease food consumption in overweight individuals (Perry & Wang, 2012).
Ways you can improve your Peptide YY levels is by:
- Intaking adequate amounts of protein at each meal, again totalling about 30% of your daily calories while dieting (Foltz et al., 2008).
- Making sure that most of the fat in your diet is good fat (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat) and not bad fat (Saturated and trans fat), as good fat is thought to secrete cholecystokinin (McLaughlin et al., 1998).
- Intaking adequate fibre at every meal as one study by found that when people consumed a meal with beans, a fibre rich source, their cholecystokinin levels doubled to twice the quantity obtained from low-fibre meals (Bourdon et al., 2001).
To read our blog explaining why more and more people are becoming obese, please follow our link here.
Weight & Glucagon-Like Peptide-1
GLP-1 is a hormone generated in your gut when foods enter the intestines that play an important role in regulating your blood sugar levels and reducing appetite. Scientists think that the decrease in hunger that happens immediately following bariatric surgery is due in part to enhanced GLP-1 secretion (Osto et al., 2015).
In a 1998 study by Flint et al., it was found that males who were administered GLP-1 with breakfast felt more satiated and ate 12 per cent fewer calories at lunch.
Ways you can improve your GLP-1 levels is by:
- Consumed enough protein-rich food sources daily such as yoghurt, fish, protein supplements, chicken breast as this has been shown to improve the ability of blood sugar to be used as energy in cells and enhance GLP-1 quantities (Tremblay et al., 2015).
- Consume foods that have a beneficial effect on inflammation as chronic inflammation has been found to be associated with decreased GLP-1 secretion (Gagnon et al., 2015).
- Consume more spinach and kale as a study by found that women who ate more at meals reached increased production of GLP-1 and subsequently lost more weight (Montelius et al., 2014).
- Also, you may consider taking a probiotic supplement, with your doctor’s permission, of course, as one animal study by Yadav et al. (2013) found that it enhanced quantities of GLP-1, leading to decreased food consumption.
Weight & Leptin
Leptin is a hormone generated by fat cells and suppresses hunger and helps you feel full, which is a further example of how hormones influence weight loss.
Its purpose is to interact with the hypothalamus, the part of your brain that controls your hunger and food consumption.
Leptin tells the brain when there’s sufficient fat in storage and that no more is required, which aids in preventing overindulgence.
Overweight or obese people often have unusually high amounts of leptin in their blood. For example, Considine et al. (1996) discovered that leptin levels in obese persons were 400% greater than in normal-weight people.
So since leptin reduces appetite and obese people have very high leptin levels, that means that they should be able to lose weight easily, right?
Unfortunately, no, because in obese people, the filling effects of leptin don’t work.
This disruption is also known as leptin resistance.
In other words, when the connection between leptin and the hypothalamus is impaired, the message to stop eating doesn’t get through to the brain, so your brain thinks it is starving, so you’re driven to eat even though you may already be full.
Leptin levels are also lowered when you lose weight, which is one of the primary reasons it is so difficult to sustain long-term weight loss.
The brain believes you are hungry and urges you to eat more.
Although we don’t know why this relationship is disrupted, two probable causes of leptin resistance include persistently high insulin levels and hypothalamic inflammation.
Ways you can improve your leptin sensitivity is by:
- Limit inflammatory meals, particularly sugary beverages and trans (bad) fat, and consume more anti-inflammatory foods, such as fatty fish.
- Exercising often (Abd El-Kader et al., 2014).
- Get at least 8 hours of sleep every night since studies have shown that not getting enough sleep causes a reduction in leptin levels and increased hunger (Spiegel et al., 2004).
To read our blog breaking down the effects of Intermittent Fasting for health, please follow the link here.
Weight & Insulin
Insulin is generated by your pancreas’s beta cells, produced in tiny amounts throughout the day and greater quantities after meals. It helps cells absorb blood sugar for energy or storage.
Its also the primary hormone responsible for fat accumulation in the body.
It instructs fat cells to retain fat while also preventing fat from being used for energy.
When cells become insulin resistant, which is quite frequent, blood sugar and insulin levels skyrocket.
This is a problem since chronically high insulin levels can lead to various health issues, like type 2 diabetes (Shanik et al., 2008).
Foods high in added sugar and processed carbs raise insulin resistance and insulin levels.
Ways you can improve your insulin sensitivity is by:
- Being cautious of your sugar intake as fructose and sucrose increases insulin resistance risk by elevating insulin levels (Stanhope et al., 2013).
- Undertaking a low carbohydrate diet as this will result in less sugar available in your bloodstream (Volek & Feinman, 2005).
- Even though protein enhances the amount of insulin in the blood in the short term, it leads to long term decreases in insulin resistance by helping you burn your body fat stores (Merchant et al., 2005).
- Including good unsaturated fats as Omega-3 fatty acids may assist in lowering insulin levels between meals (Ramel et al., 2008).
- Getting your 30 minutes of daily physical activity in (Ross et al., 2004).
Weight & Neuropeptide Y
Neuropeptide Y is generated by brain and nervous system cells and stimulates hunger, especially for carbs, and is at its peak during fasting.
During times of stress, neuropeptide Y levels rise, which can contribute to overeating and belly fat growth.
Ways you can improve your neuropeptide Y is by:
- Getting enough protein as too little has been found to increase the secretion of neuropeptide Y, meaning increased food cravings, increased food consumption and increased weight (White et al., 1994).
- Eating plenty of soluble fibre as it is thought to decrease levels of neuropeptide Y (Holzer & Farzi, 2014).
Weight & Estrogen
Estrogen is the most significant female sex hormone generated mostly by the ovaries and is involved in controlling the female reproductive system. Depending on the age and overall health, both high and low estrogen might cause weight gain.
It begins by encouraging fat accumulation at puberty in order to preserve fertility during the reproductive years. Furthermore, estrogen may promote fat accumulation throughout the early part of pregnancy (Pedersen et al., 2004).
Obese women have greater estrogen levels than normal-weight women, which some studies attribute to environmental factors (Grantham & Henneberg, 2014).
When estrogen levels decline due to reduced production in the ovaries during menopause, the location of fat storage changes from the hips and thighs to visceral fat in the belly. This causes insulin resistance and raises type 2 diabetes and obesity risk (LOVEJOY, 1998).
Ways you can improve your estrogen is by:
- Again consuming more fibre at meals.
- Exercise as in premenopausal and postmenopausal women, exercising regularly has been shown to stabilize estrogen levels (Kossman et al., 2011).
Weight & Ghrelin
When your stomach is empty, ghrelin, or the hunger hormone, is produced, which sends a message to your hypothalamus, prompting you to eat, which is another way hormones impact weight loss.
Ghrelin levels are normally greatest prior to eating and lowest around 60 minutes after finishing.
According to research, ghrelin levels in obese persons have been found to only marginally drop after eating a meal.
As a result, the hypothalamus does not get as strong a signal to cease eating, resulting in overeating (Daghestani, 2009).
Ways you can improve your ghrelin is by:
- Avoiding high-fructose corn syrup and sugary beverages, both of which might impede ghrelin response after meals.
- Having protein at breakfast, lunch and dinner can lower ghrelin levels and increase satiety.
To read our blog investigating whether portion control while dieting is helpful, please follow the link here.
Weight & Cortisol
Cortisol is a stress hormone generated by the adrenal glands and released by the body. It, like other hormones, is essential for survival.
Chronically high cortisol levels, though, might contribute to overeating and weight gain (Epel et al., 2001).
A diet that is excessively restricted, on the other hand, might elevate cortisol levels.
Women who ate a low-calorie diet had higher cortisol levels and reported feeling more stressed than women who ate a regular diet, according to Tomiyama et al. (2010).
Ways you can improve your cortisol is by:
- Adhering to a balanced diet and making sure you keep within at least 750 calories below your maintenance caloric intake. If you would like to find out how you may calculate your maintenance calorie intake, please read our blog post here.
- Improve your sleep. According to one study, when pilots missed 15 hours of sleep in a week, their cortisol levels rose by 50-80 per cent.
To conclude, hormones interact to promote or reduce hunger and fat accumulation and may be the secret to successful weight loss.
If the endocrine system fails to function effectively, you may find yourself dealing with weight concerns regularly.
However, food and lifestyle choices may have a strong influence on these hormones, and by following the methods outlined, you can enhance your hormone levels and, as a result, your weight loss outcomes.
For help in finding a path to weight loss that also meets your nutritional needs and avoids the dangers of fad diets, contact us here at Plato Weight Management. We are weight-loss experts and can help you reach your ideal body weight in an effective and evidence-based manner.