Kickstart Your Weight Loss: 30% Off New Memberships! 

Skip to content

The Science Behind Weight Loss: Understanding Metabolism and Hormones

Ever wish you could wave a magic wand, and poof, you'd lose weight? 

Instead, you're spending hours at the gym and meal prepping to find the scale isn't moving. Or you may find that losing weight isn't the challenge; it's keeping it off. 

What if we told you there's actual science behind losing weight that goes beyond exercise and diet? In fact, studies show hormones and metabolism play a significant role in weight loss.

Understanding the role of both of these, especially as we age, in our body is a key component to losing weight successfully. In this article, we'll break down the science behind weight loss, the basics of metabolism and hormones, how they work, and what factors affect them to help you on your weight loss journey!

Metabolism and its effect on weight loss

Metabolism is the process through which your body converts food into fuel for all its essential functions - from simply breathing to repairing and growing cells. It never stops keeping everything up and running. So even when you're sleeping soundly, your metabolism is still hard at work to keep you going.

But to do so, it needs calories to function and stay in homeostasis. This is known as your basal metabolic rate (BMR) and can vary from person to person. Your BMR is highly dependent on your lean muscle mass, as muscle requires a significant amount of energy to maintain, and anything that reduces your lean mass will also reduce your BMR. 

The intensity at which your metabolism works is determined by various factors, including genes, gender, height, weight, body composition, activity level, and age - meaning it can change over time. 

"Metabolism tends to slow as we age because our muscle mass tends to decrease while our fat mass increases," says Profile Plan's Director of Program and Nutrition, Alyssa Burnison. "Muscle is more metabolically active than fat, meaning that it requires more calories to maintain."

Losing muscle and being less active as we age have a negative effect on our metabolism, making it harder to lose and keep weight off. 

The role of hormones in weight loss

As the chemical messengers responsible for countless bodily functions, hormones are essential to our well-being. From metabolism to appetite, they are involved in almost every process our body undergoes. Certain hormones, like insulin, cortisol, leptin, ghrelin, and estrogen, significantly impact our weight. 


Insulin is a hormone the pancreas produces that helps regulate blood sugar levels. When you eat carbs, your body releases insulin to escort glucose into the cells. 

However, when you consume too many carbs or overeat, your body's insulin sensitivity drops and your cells resist insulin's effects. This can lead to fat storage, weight gain, and even type 2 diabetes. 


Cortisol is the hormone responsible for the "fight or flight" response, which is triggered as a response to stress. In addition, it also plays a role in reducing inflammation, controlling the sleep-wake cycle, and regulating blood sugar and blood pressure.  

When stressed, cortisol levels rise, prompting your body to store more belly fat. Chronically elevated cortisol levels can also increase appetite and cause emotional eating and cravings for sweet, fatty, and salty foods. 


Leptin is the hormone that signals satiety to the brain. It's supposed to suppress hunger and regulate energy balance.

However, research shows people who are overweight or obese become resistant to leptin, leading to hunger pangs and overeating. This is why some people continue to eat even when they're full or don't feel hungry. 


Unlike leptin, ghrelin, also known as the hunger hormone, signals to your brain that your stomach is empty and you need food. 

Ghrelin levels are highest before meals and lowest after eating, but studies show that those with obesity have lower levels of it overall. Despite this, they have increased sensitivity to ghrelin's effects, which may lead to overeating. 


Estrogen is a sex hormone that regulates the female reproductive system but also plays a critical role in regulating body weight and metabolism. 

A decrease in estrogen levels can significantly impact a woman's weight and ability to lose weight, especially after menopause. 

"Estrogen helps regulate appetite, so as estrogen levels decrease, women may experience an increase in hunger," adds Burnison. "Reduced estrogen levels can also decrease insulin sensitivity, making weight loss more challenging."

This hormone also controls where fat is stored in the body; for women experiencing perimenopause, menopause, or post-menopause, that can mean more fat stored in their midsection. Belly weight is much harder to lose and increases the risk of certain health conditions, like heart disease, diabetes, and liver issues. 

How to boost metabolism for weight loss 

While we have no control over the genetic aspects, there are ways to support our metabolism to promote healthy weight and overall wellness as we age. 

  • Eat plenty of high-quality protein- Adding more protein to your diet helps you feel fuller longer, prevents overeating, and helps maintain muscle mass. 
  • Increase water intake- Replacing sugary drinks with water automatically reduces calorie intake while supporting optimal metabolism. Some studies suggest drinking water before a meal can help you feel full faster. 
  • Lift heavy- Strength training helps build muscle and increase metabolic rate.
  • Prioritize sleep- Poor sleep habits can lead to insulin resistance, fat storage, and disrupted metabolism. 
  • Balance your gut- Our gut microbes impact the metabolism by controlling glucose metabolism, appetite, and fat storage. 

Balancing hormones for sustainable weight loss 

Hormonal imbalances can cause cravings, overeating, and difficulty losing weight. 

Balancing hormones is essential when it comes to losing weight and keeping it off. 

  • Commit to a regular exercise routine
  • Avoid sugary, highly processed foods
  • Follow a nutritious diet with a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats
  • Get quality sleep every night
  • Learn healthy ways to manage stress

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there's a lot more to weight loss than following a particular diet or exercise plan. Learning to support your metabolism and balance hormones is essential to losing weight and keeping it off. 

For women going through perimenopause and menopause, Profile Plan combines meal plans, 1-on-1 coaching, and behavioral education to support hormonal changes that can impact weight loss. 

Our program focuses on eating a nutritious, well-balanced diet, participating in regular physical activity as much as able, getting adequate amounts of sleep, managing stress in healthy ways, and many other aspects to support women. Learn more about our customized plans here

Ready to lose weight, increase energy, and reduce symptoms associated with menopause? Get started with Profile Plan today!


Let’s get you started on your lifestyle change!

See How It Works

Join Our Community

Get tips, recipes and deals sent to your inbox by entering your email.