This post comes to you from our Director of Adult Fitness Operations, Richard Gandy. Rich has also headed up our fat loss nutrition programs and has a ton of valuable information to share.

People usually think only of food intake and exercise levels when it comes to determining fat loss, but there is more to the picture than that. The hormones your body releases, and in what amounts, can have a very positive or very negative effect on your fat loss success.

Specifically, there are 6 hormones that play a huge role:


When it comes to fat loss Insulin plays a major role. This hormone is most strongly influenced by carbohydrate intake and over consumption of food, both of which cause a detrimental increase in blood sugar. Over consuming any macronutrient whether it be carbohydrate, fat, or protein will elevate this hormone. For the average person, who tends to lead a sedentary lifestyle, and over consumes food, insulin will increase and remain high. How Insulin works is after a meal contain high glycemic carbohydrates your body’s blood sugar level significantly rises, this facilitates the storage of glucose (blood sugar) in the muscle tissues and especially fat cells. Chronic high levels of insulin will eventually cause your body to become resistant to this hormone, meaning your body finds it hard to utilize any carbohydrates efficiently and ultimately will find it difficult to burn fat. To combat high levels of insulin floating around carbohydrate intake should be limited, and the calories replaced with that from healthy fats, from sources such as olive oils, nut oils, avocados and various types of fish.


Glucagon works hand in hand with Insulin, in a healthy body these two hormones work to keep your body’s blood sugar and energy needs in balance. However, Glucagon has the opposite properties of Insulin, glucagon is released from the pancreas when blood sugar is low, during gaps between meals and when working out. Elevated Glucagon causes the liver to release stored energy into circulation. Higher levels of Glucagon in the body create the perfect fat burning environment and prevent fat storage. If Insulin levels are low glucagon levels can begin to help the body burn fat stores. To cause an increase in glucagon one should not over-eat, while at the same minimize carbohydrate intake.

Thyroid Hormone

Thyroid hormone, secreted from the thyroid gland, helps to manage the body’s metabolic processes including your ability to burn fat. This hormone is keenly sensitive to your daily lifestyle choices such as sleep quality, the different types and quality of foods that you consume, stress levels, and the type of exercise you take part in. It influences every system in your body by sensing your internal and external environment. Your thyroid gland is programmed to think food will be scarce like food tended to be long ago in prehistoric times it is for this reason when someone goes on a diet with a big calorie deficit your thyroid will cause your body to slow down it’s metabolism. To positively influence this hormone for fat burning avoid long periods of calorie reduced dieting and ensure that your meals are evenly spaced throughout the day.


Cortisol has two major effects on the body, the first being detrimental to fat loss and the second a positive effect. In other words, it is not all bad or all good. Acute stress on the body tend to cause a short-term increase of this hormone. It gets the body primed to either fight or flight from the stress the body is subjected to. Hectic and stressful lifestyles cause our cortisol levels to be either chronically elevated or very low; both of which can create a fatty, fatigued body. The fat burning benefits that come with Cortisol due to its release with Human Growth Hormone and Testosterone during bouts of intense physical activity, this makes for perfect fat burning conditions. Another benefit of cortisol comes at night when low glycemic carbohydrates are consumed, this allows for restful deep sleep to take place. To positively influence this hormone one should exercise regularly at a high intensity.


Leptin is secreted from your fat cells and tells the brain how much fat you have on your body to burn. Leptin also helps influence thyroid hormone. Regular over-eating or under eating causes leptin’s message to the brain to be scrambled or ignored. This is also known as leptin resistance. Basically, leptin’s signal or lack of it, makes the brain think that someone with excess body fat is actually skinny or lean and therefore causes us to gain weight or at the very least not lose the excess fat. To positively influence this hormone one should not chronically over-consume or under-consume food. Also, keep in mind that it is very easy to over consume food when one’s diet is mostly refined carbohydrate, which less satiating (feeling of fullness) than protein, fat, and complex carbohydrates. Eating slowly helps to support appropriate levels of leptin.


This hormone tends to have a stronger influence on the female body than the male body. However, men also require appropriate amounts of estrogen to maintain a healthy body, although at much lower levels than women. Younger women relative to post-menopausal women tend not struggle with increasing fat gain, especially in the torso as levels of Estrogen decrease in the female body, the male hormone Androgen increases in menopausal, this causes a redistribution of weight to the torso. Appropriate levels of sleep, including food such as Onions, garlic and cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower are high in estrogen-inhibiting compounds and helps to maintain appropriate levels of this hormone for both men and women.

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