How Hormone Imbalances Can Hinder Your Efforts to Lose Weight

When it comes to the weight loss mantra, “Eat less, exercise more,” it’s not always that simple. While getting plenty of exercise and following a nutritious diet are key to managing weight, for some people it’s their hormones, not calories and willpower, playing tricks on them. Misfiring hormones can wreak havoc on your ability to slim down. What’s more, most people are completely unaware that a hormone imbalance is the cause of their weight loss resistance.

Here’s a look at hormones and how they can cause you to pack on the pounds when they’re out of balance.  


Think of leptin as the hormone that tells you to put the fork down. Under normal circumstances, this appetite-regulating hormone produced by your fat cells circulates in your blood, where it reaches the brain and signals that you’re full.

You can imagine that if your leptin levels are low, or if your brain isn’t responding properly to leptin, you’ll find yourself feeling hungrier and eating more. Leptin resistance causes a two-fold problem. It makes your brain to think that you must eat to avoid starving, and it lowers the number of calories you burn to conserve energy, making it difficult to shed unwanted pounds.


The stress hormone cortisol can throw a wrench into your weight loss efforts when it’s coursing through your veins unimpeded. This hormone helps your body adapt to various stressors by influencing blood sugar, appetite, salt and water balance, and metabolism, while also stimulating other stress-related chemicals such as adrenaline.

A one-time spike in cortisol isn’t a problem, but ongoing elevated levels can contribute to weight gain and make it difficult to lose weight.

Thyroid hormone

Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland at the base of your neck. Although small, this gland is mighty. It’s the master regulator of your metabolism and controls energy in and energy out. When it’s working as it should, it regulates how many calories you burn, among other things. The problem is that low levels of thyroid hormone are all too common, especially among women. An estimated 10 million Americans have some degree of thyroid hormone deficiency.

Here at our office in Century City, California, Dr. Cho offers an integrative medicine approach to weight loss that involves assessing not just your diet and lifestyle, but also carefully evaluating your hormones. She helps patients with thyroid imbalances restore their health, lose weight, and feel confident again.

Sex hormones

Fertility isn’t the only thing sex hormones influence. Low levels of estrogen in women and testosterone deficiency in men can cause weight gain and weight loss resistance. Sex hormones influence fat storage and fat distribution. Changes in sex hormones during menopause is one reason women are more likely to gain weight during this change of life.

However, a woman can have low estrogen even during the childbearing years, and men of all ages can have testosterone imbalance. In fact, weight gain is often one of the most frustrating symptoms of hypogonadism, the medical term for low testosterone.

Dr. Cho uses bioidentical hormones to replace the hormones you’re missing. Bioidentical hormones act in your body the same way your natural hormones do, and your body can’t distinguish between the two. Hormone replacement therapy in those who are deficient is shown to produce significant and sustained weight loss.

If you’re experiencing weight loss resistance despite your best efforts, you may have a hormonal imbalance. To get to the bottom of your weight management issues, call us at Wellness at Century City or book online to schedule a consultation with Dr. Cho.

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