Hormones & Weightloss


Hormones control every system in the body, and they certainly have a significant impact on a person’s weight.

As a brief summary of what these hormones are, consider the following:


Thyroid controls metabolism in every cell of the body, and a low level can contribute to fat deposition all over the body. Cracked heels, poor nails, and a body temperature of 97 or below are suggestive signs of a low thyroid level.


Excess levels of estrogen can lead to increased fat around the hips, thighs, and buttocks. An increase in insulin puts on fat around the middle.


Leptin is a hormone produced by fat cells that helps to curb our appetite. Using MCT oil can increase leptin levels and help with weight loss. Ghrelin is a hormone produced by intestinal cells that increases our appetite. Obviously, the less ghrelin you have, the easier it is to lose weight. Meals that are high in protein and fat, and low in carbs produce the least amount of ghrelin, and allow you to go longer periods without hunger.


Which now leaves us with the two hormones that have the most significant impact on our weight. Most people are aware of the influence that cortisol has on increasing weight. It is fairly well known that the body releases cortisol in response to stress. We are subjected to stress throughout the day, and we can also be subjected to stress while we are sleeping or trying to sleep. When exposed to stress, the body releases cortisol to help mitigate it. The initial response of cortisol is to raise sugar levels (glucose) via a process called glycogenolysis. In this situation, glycogen stored in the liver is converted into glucose.


So far, everything I have mentioned is relatively well accepted. But there is another piece to this puzzle of why we gain weight that is generally not thought of and certainly not considered. This additional piece is the last hormone that needs to be addressed, and is certainly the most significant. What I am talking about is adrenaline. Most people think of adrenaline as the "fight-or-flight" hormone.

In fact, this hormone is released in large amounts when we are in danger. However, if danger was the primary cause for the release of adrenaline, believe me, there would be a lot fewer people fighting weight issues. In actuality, the primary function of adrenaline is to make sure that the brain has enough sugar (glucose) to function. Most people are unaware that the brain utilizes more sugar per weight than any other area of the body. Anytime the body detects that the brain is low in fuel, it automatically releases adrenaline to raise glucose levels via a process called gluconeogenesis - the conversion of protein into sugar. It is the release of adrenaline that is the cause of stress which in turn leads to the release of cortisol.

It is easy to appreciate how the stress we get exposed to during the day can create large amounts of sugar due to the action of adrenaline and cortisol, but this is compounded significantly at night when a person is sleeping, or trying to sleep. Adrenaline reaches its highest level around 2:30 am, which is the time the brain runs out of fuel. The release of adrenaline creates stress to the body, which then releases cortisol to deal with the stress. The thing about sugar is that it does not matter whether you are eating it, or whether the body is producing it, if it is not burnt up then the body stores the sugar in fat cells where it is converted into fat. So here is a situation where the body is producing two hormones that create sugar while a person is sleeping. I strongly suspect that this is the number one formula for creating fat.

So as we enter a new year, and people are making their resolutions, I would very much like to suggest that for those people resolving to lose weight, that they resolve to approach their weight issue from the cause.

Let us help you. We specialize in the management of excess adrenaline. Please read my recent Blog on how excessive adrenaline may be effecting your weight during your sleep. My book "Adrenaline Dominance" is available on my website or Amazon.

Michael E. Platt, M.D., has been board-certified in internal medicine. He has an office in Palm Desert, CA, devoted to wellness, hormones and supplement online store. He provide answers to questions at questions@plattwellness.com. He is known nationally and internationally as a specialist in bio-identical hormones. He is also the author of “The Miracle of Bio-identical Hormones” and “The Platt Protocol for Hormone Balancing” – a wellness manual for healthcare practitioners.

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  • Hi Mary,
    It does make sense that adrenaline can contribute to a high resting heart rate. This is especially true if you are taking thyroid medication,
    because adrenaline and thyroid are both stimulants.

    The best laboratory test to document excess adrenaline levels is a cortisol blood test (not saliva) done before 9 am.
    The result should be less than 14, even though the “normal” range can go to 19.4 or 23.2 depending on the lab.
    Your HbA1C level might be slightly high because adrenaline raises glucose levels throughout the day and night.
    This does not mean that you are “pre-diabetic”. I would recommend thyroid tests because cortisol is released to deal with the stress caused by excess adrenaline. And cortisol is an anti-thyroid hormone. Free T4, Free T3, TSH, and perhaps a reverse T3 are the tests to obtain.

    Michael E. platt, md

    Michael E. Platt on
  • (1) I am guessing that excess adrenaline would be a factor in causing a high resting heart rate. Does that make sense?
    (2) I know how to order my own lab tests already. Are there any hormone tests that Dr. Platt would recommend as a baseline?

    Mary on

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