9 Hormones That Lead to Weight Gain and Ways to Avoid It

9 months ago

Weight gain is often associated with overeating and can be caused by various hormones going berserk. While gaining weight is easy, losing it is not. Various triggers like stress, age, genes, and poor lifestyle choices can cause a hormonal imbalance leading to obesity.

Bright Side identified 9 hormones that cause an imbalance in the body resulting in weight gain. Also, we will tell you how you can keep these hormones in check. Be sure to keep reading!

Thyroid hormones

The thyroid gland is at the base of our necks. It produces hormones T3, T4, and calcitonin which are responsible for maintaining the body’s metabolism. Underproduction of these hormones leads to hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism is often associated with weight gain mostly due to the accumulation of water in the body and not fat, making a person look plump.

How to avoid it:

  • Consume iodized salt.
  • Eat well-cooked food and avoid raw vegetables.
  • Take vitamin D supplements.
  • Consume food rich in Zinc content such as oysters and pumpkin seeds.


Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas. It helps to carry the glucose into the cells to be used as energy or to be stored as fat, thereby maintaining the glucose levels in the blood. Overconsumption of processed food, unhealthy snacks, alcohol or artificially sweetened drinks can lead to the body developing a resistance to insulin.

This causes the muscle cells to not recognize glucose-bound insulin, resulting in glucose remaining in the bloodstream. This causes a spike in the blood sugar levels leading to weight gain and Type 2 diabetes.

How to avoid it:

  • Consume green leafy vegetables, seasonal fruits, and seasonal vegetables.
  • To improve your omega-3-fatty acid levels, consume fatty fish, nuts, olive oil, flaxseeds.
  • Drink at least 4 liters of water every day.
  • Start working out at least 4 hours a week.
  • Avoid alcohol, late night snacks, aerated and artificially sweetened drinks.


Cortisol is a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands when you are depressed, anxious, stressed, nervous, angry, or physically injured. Its primary function is to decrease stress levels by increasing blood sugar levels, suppressing the immune system and aiding in the metabolism of fat, protein, and carbohydrates. But given our often poor lifestyle choices, our body can be in a constant state of stress, leading to the secretion of cortisol being detrimental to our overall health by aiding visceral fat deposition and stimulating the maturation of fat cells.

How to avoid it:

  • Get at least 8 hours of sleep every night.
  • Avoid processed food, deep fried food, and alcohol.
  • Practice deep breathing, yoga, and meditation for at least one hour every day. It helps in reducing stress levels.
  • Spend time with your family and close friends. There is no better way to unwind!


Testosterone is often considered to be a male hormone but it is also secreted by females. It helps burn fat, strengthens bones and muscles, and improves libido. Age and high stress can cause a significant decrease in testosterone levels in women, leading to loss of bone density, loss of muscle mass, and obesity.

How to avoid it:

  • Workout regularly. It helps improve testosterone levels.

  • Avoid alcohol.

  • Consume protein supplements.

  • Include fiber-rich food like whole grains, pumpkin seeds, and flaxseed in your diet.


The level of progesterone and estrogen should be balanced in the body to make it function properly. Progesterone levels can drop due to a variety of reasons like stress, use of contraceptive pills, menopause, etc. This can result in weight gain and depression.

How to avoid it:

  • Exercise regularly.
  • Try meditation.
  • Avoid stress.


Estrogen is the primary female sex hormone. Any imbalance in levels of estrogen in the body can lead to weight gain. High estrogen levels in the body can be due to either overproduction of the hormone or due to a diet rich in estrogen.

When estrogen levels go up, the cells producing insulin get stressed. This makes you resistant to insulin, causing a rise in the blood glucose level and leads to weight gain.

Premenopausal women have lower levels of estrogen. In order to replenish the supply of estrogen, the body starts looking for other sources that produce estrogen. One such source is fat cells. When the estrogen levels drop, the body starts converting all available sources of energy to fat to replenish the glucose levels. This leads to weight gain.

How to avoid it:

  • Consume whole grains, fresh vegetables, and fruits.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Avoid processed meat.


Leptin is a hormone that regulates energy balance in the body by inhibiting hunger. But when we eat food rich in sugar content, the oversupply of fructose gets converted to fat that gets deposited in the liver, belly and other regions of the body. These fat cells secrete leptin.

As more and more leptin get secreted, the body gets desensitized to it. This causes the brain to cease receiving signals to avoid eating.

How to avoid it:

  • Avoid food rich in sugar content. Consume no more than 3 servings of fruit per day.
  • Consume dark green leafy veggies.
  • Avoid processed food.
  • Get proper sleep. 7-8 hours of daily sleep is recommended.
  • Keep yourself hydrated!


Secreted primarily by the stomach, ghrelin is known as the hunger hormone. Ghrelin stimulates the appetite and increases fat deposition. Ghrelin levels are also high when people are on a strict diet or while fasting.

How to avoid it:

  • Workout regularly.
  • Eat every 2-3 hours.
  • Drink 1½ cups of water 20 minutes before a meal.

  • Eat fresh fruits, vegetables, and food rich in protein content.


Melatonin is a hormone that regulates sleep and wakefulness. While we are asleep the body releases growth hormones which help the body to heal, improve body composition, and build lean muscle. But if we do not get proper sleep, this healing process gets disrupted causing stress and ultimately leading to inflammation-induced weight gain.

How to avoid it:

  • Do not eat late at night or just before going to bed.
  • Get sufficient sleep.
  • Sleep in a dark and cold room.
  • Turn off all gadgets before sleeping.

Though some of the names of the hormones might sound complicated, we are sure that you have figured out by now which hormone is probably making you gain weight. Let us know in the comments below.

Preview photo credit Depositphotos.com
Illustrated by Leonid Khan for Bright Side


Get notifications
Lucky you! This thread is empty,
which means you've got dibs on the first comment.
Go for it!

Related Reads