I have a pituitary disorder from an accident that injured my brain.  That injury also affected my hormones… which in turn affected my weight.

I know so many women struggle with weight gain and suspect their hormones are to blame.  If you feel like your hormones are making it harder for you to lose weight, chance are you’re right!

But there’s good news!  You can regulate your hormones and lose fat quickly when you give your body what it needs.  That’s what this post is all about…

Hormones, weight gain, and how to balance your hormones naturally so you can feel motivated, healthy, in control, and lose weight faster.


Hormones are the chemical messengers that regulate all of the bodily functions throughout your body.

Your hormones are responsible for making sure you get the right things you need to function properly and stay healthy.  Hormones also affect your weight.

Hormones can cause weight gain… even if you’re dieting and exercising like a pro!

If one hormone is off balance they can imbalance others.   If you’re experiencing issues with your reproductive hormones, menopause, food cravings, fatigue, irritability, PMS, and your weight… chances are you have other fat fighting hormones off balance, too.

This is when it gets a lot harder to feel good, get motivated, eat healthy, exercise regularly, and lose weight!

Hormones and Weight Gain

There are 7 hormones that control your metabolism, hunger, and the ability to store or burn body fat. They literally make or break your ability to lose weight.  If any of these hormones is imbalanced, you can gain weight.

LEPTIN – Leptin tells your brain that you’re full and regulates metabolism so you burn more fat when your body needs to. For fat loss, you want to sleep so plenty of leptin so your brain knows to keep the metabolism burning hot…

The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism concluded sleep duration influences leptin production, because “sleep modulates a major component of the neuroendocrine control of appetite…”

Avoiding eating food before you go to sleep can make it easier to balance leptin levels.  It’s important to keep leptin levels stable because a leptin imbalance adversely affects other hormones like cortisol…

CORTISOL – Cortisol is a stress hormone. It’s responsible for a temporary adrenal burst for ‘flight or fight responses.’  It’s also released when you’re feeling stressed out: stuck in a traffic jam, freaked out about finances, or because you’re not getting enough sleep.

You can also experience stress internally if you exercise too much or eat too many toxic, processed foods. Chronic exposure and elevated cortisol levels trigger your body to store fat and break down muscle… which can make your metabolism slow down.

A 1997 study titled “Sleep Loss Results in an Elevation of Cortisol Levels the Next Evening.”  The study found that cortisol levels should occur in the morning so the effect can taper off throughout the day… and high cortisol levels could increase stress more, further impairing your ability to think clearly, cope with life events, sleep, and properly metabolize food.

All of which can slow your metabolism down and have you tossing and turning well into the next night…  this keeps you stuck, struggling to lose weight and feel motivated and energized.

People that are tired tend to eat more to cope… which negatively affects the next hormone, ghrelin.

GHRELIN – Ghrelin kinda sounds like ‘grumbling’… as in, my tummy’s grumbling. Which is exactly what ghrelin does… it signals hunger.

Normal ghrelin levels make you feel hungry.  But too much ghrelin can cause chronic hunger, cravings and the urge to overeat.  Women who get little to no sleep, are too stressed and have hormone imbalances are more susceptible to have higher levels of Ghrelin.

Excess ghrelin can be responsible for cravings and mood swings.  Ever feel more hungry when you get stressed, cranky, ovulating or about to get your period?  Yep!  That’s ghrelin!

A study in the Journal of Sleep Research showed that just one night of sleep increased ghrelin levels and hunger in healthy normal-weight men.  Stress and reproductive hormones spike ghrelin, even more, making it harder to stay motivated and lose fat.

ADIPONECTIN – This anti-inflammatory hormone helps regulates several metabolic processes including breaking down fat.

Inflammation can occur from over-exercise, eating processed foods, acidic foods, and trying to heal an injury.  You can also get inflamed when you’re too dehydrated, stressed and tired!  Whenever inflammation occurs, the adiponectin hormone slows the metabolism, stops fighting fat and starts trying to repair, heal and reverse inflammation instead of burning fat!

Studies show optimal levels can reduce your risk for insulin resistance and developing diabetes… If you experience symptoms of aches, pains, or acidity, your body is being triggered to store fat, too… because adiponectin affects…

INSULIN – Insulin is one of the most powerful hormones that affect your ability to gain or lose fat.
Increased insulin levels prevent the metabolism from burning fat entirely and can trigger fat storage. Eating too much sugar, literally causes your fat cells to slam shut like a Venus fly trap… trapping fat in your tissues. Every time you eat sugar you’re triggering insulin production.

Plus, insulin affects other fat fighting hormones.  A study in The Journal of Applied Physiology concluded chronic stress and poor sleep habits increased hunger and sugar cravings and directly contributes to weight gain, insulin resistance, and diabetes.

GLUCAGON – Glucagon does the opposite of insulin. This hormone releases fat from your fat cells to burn for energy.  If your insulin is off balance, glucagon has a harder time releasing fat so it can be burned for energy.

A study in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism concluded that poor sleep and dietary habits also reduce circulating levels of glucagon.

GROWTH HORMONE – Your body makes this “fountain of youth” hormone that is released only during deep stage 4 sleep.  Growth hormone (GH) also helps build muscle, boosts energy and improves fat metabolism.

Muscle mass can only be increased during repair.  If you’re not getting enough GH your muscle mass can deteriorate further reducing your metabolic rate.  When you’re too stressed, eating processed foods, consuming too much caffeine or exercising too close to your bedtime, it can disrupt your deep sleep cycles.

A 1991 study in the Journal of Psychiatry and Neuroscience showed fewer hours of sleep means your body makes less GH.


You can imbalance hormones at any age!  If you’re too stressed or don’t sleep enough you can affect hormone patterns.  If you don’t balance hormones, they’ll eventually get worse and can affect your health and weight as you age.

Balancing your hormones in your 20’s and 30’s can help prevent hormonal problems your 50’s!


It’s possible to have menopause affect your weight, too.  As you age, hormone production slows down, slowing the metabolism along with it. But the average weight gained during hormone reductions caused by menopause is only 15 pounds.

A lot of women gain more weight and feel awful during menopause because:

  • They had other hormones off balance
  • They haven’t been eating the right essential nutrients needed to regulate hormone function and keep the metabolism running fast.
  • They didn’t exercise regularly enough to preserve muscle mass to keep their metabolism fast.
  • They had a history of stress or poor sleep that affects other hormones and makes menopause harder than it has to be.


A lot of people think they only have to ‘eat healthy’ and ‘exercise’ to lose weight and stay healthy.  That’s not true!

You have to drink enough water (water is an essential macronutrient!), reduce stress and get plenty of sleep to keep your hormones balanced and lose fat, too.

When you’re not eating right, not exercising, not getting enough water… if you’re too stressed and not getting enough sleep you’ll disrupt hormone functions.

There are 5 factors that you must balance, to ensure normal hormone production.

To stabilize hormones, it’s best to keep these 5 factors balanced… otherwise, you’ll stay stuck struggling with a slow metabolism, food cravings, fatigue, and stubborn fat.

Hormones and Weight Gain Christina Carlyle

When you’re not getting enough of one or more of the 5 factors, your body will slow your metabolism and one or more of the 7 hormones mentioned above, will be released to try to correct the problem.

When hormones are released to correct any of the five factors, it can cause a ripple effect throughout the other hormones.

It doesn’t matter if you diet or exercise like a pro… if you’re not drinking enough water or you’re too stressed… you can experience hormone imbalances that cause gain weight.

It can start subtly with one drink or one bite of the ‘wrong’ thing but over time of chronic exposure to the wrong foods and doing the wrong exercises can cause hormone imbalances that can literally turn you into a fat storing machine… I’m speaking from experience. (!!!)

The hormones that are affected by the 5 factors and how they react differently to different things varies and is determined by your bio-individuality (genetic makeup and metabolic reactions to food, stress, exercise, and sleep).

THE FOODS YOU CHOOSE AFFECT YOUR HORMONES (hello too much coffee that makes it harder to get deep sleep!)


There is hope!  Hormones can be regulated quickly with food and minimal exercise!

If you already suspect that you have a hormone imbalance, I’d strongly recommend trying my Reset Cleanse… I created it in part to help balance hormones quickly to help people lose weight and feel great fast!  (you can lose up to 10 pounds in 7 days!)

I hope this post helped you!

Do you think your hormones are making you gain weight?

Let me know in the comments.

Your Coach and Biggest Cheerleader


Christina Carlyle

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Hormones and Weight Gain Christina CarlyleOriginally, posted July 14, 2013 – updated August 18, 2018.