Eating well and exercising are fundamental to maintaining a healthy weight. Together these two behaviours can put us in a good position when it comes to getting the most out of our bodies and keeping the amount of fat we carry around in check. But there are other factors at play. One of them is our hormone profile.

Hormones have an effect on our appetite, metabolism and the way fat is stored in our bodies.

For people trying to lose weight, understanding what is happening with their hormones is critical to understanding the whole picture and the whole struggle.

The hormones in question are leptin and insulin, sex hormones and growth hormone.

“People who are obese have levels of these hormones that encourage abnormal metabolism and the accumulation of body fat,” according to Better Health Victoria.

“A system of glands, known as the endocrine system, secretes hormones into our bloodstream.

“The endocrine system works with the nervous system and the immune system to help our body cope with different events and stresses.

“Excesses or deficits of hormones can lead to obesity and, on the other hand, obesity can lead to changes in hormones.”

According to the Healthy Hormone Network – an initiative of the Endocrine Society – the understanding of obesity is growing rapidly.

“For instance, we now know that fat cells, the gastrointestinal tract, and the brain produce many hormones that play an important role in how much you eat, how much energy you spend and how much you will weigh.”


Where to from here?

Of course, lifestyle changes are a good place to start. If you want to lose weight the Healthy Hormones Network recommends you:

  • Reduce food portions that are high in fat or sugar
  • Eat more fruit, vegetables and whole grains
  • Spend 30 minutes a day doing moderate physical activity
  • Eat three meals a day including breakfast
  • Find ways to include incidental exercise in your daily routine. House Call Doctor has previously reported the benefits of games that get you up and out of the house and reviewed some health and fitness smartphone apps.

It’s a good idea to talk to your doctor. If you’re struggling to lose weight and want to know more about your hormones, you can ask to be referred to an endocrinologist.

“Endocrinologists, who are specialists in hormones and metabolism, can help assess the cause of your obesity and the possible complications,” the Healthy Hormones Network said.

“They also can direct how you should be treated, and prescribe and monitor your medications.”

If you want to do a little more research on your own, the Healthy Hormones Network has an app available for iPhone called Journey Through the Endocrine System. It allows viewers to move through the body via an interactive tool to learn about the organs and glands of the endocrine system and how they affect our health.