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Can Hormones Influence Weight Loss And Weight Gain?

By Dr Kelvin Chua
Weight loss hormones

You may blame your weight loss or weight gain on your eating habits and lifestyle. But do you know that your hormones also play a part? 

They affect your metabolism, appetite, and fat storage. In this blog post, we’ll examine just how this dance between your hormones and your bodily process impacts weight loss and gain. 

We’ll also share how Saxenda, which was approved for medical use in Singapore recently, can be an effective weight loss treatment.


Hunger Signals

Ghrelin hormone is primarily responsible for sending hunger signals to the brain. When the stomach is empty, ghrelin levels spike, signalling to the brain that it’s time to eat while prompting sensations of hunger and motivating you to seek food.

Ghrelin Release

Various factors influence ghrelin production and release, including the time of day, meal patterns, and nutritional status. Ghrelin levels tend to rise before meals and decrease after eating. These changes in ghrelin suggest that it helps initiate the desire to eat and subsequently declines as the body receives food and energy.

Appetite Stimulation

Ghrelin stimulates appetite and promotes food intake. It acts on the hypothalamus, a brain region involved in appetite regulation, by binding to specific receptors. This interaction triggers the release of a neurotransmitter that stimulates appetite and enhances the pleasure associated with eating. Ghrelin also affects brain areas related to reward and motivation, further driving our desire to consume food.

Meal Initiation

Ghrelin not only influences appetite but also plays a role in meal initiation. It can enhance the anticipation of food and the enjoyment of eating. Ghrelin levels are typically higher before a meal and decrease after food intake, contributing to a sense of satisfaction and reduced desire to eat.

Weight Regulation

Ghrelin is affected by things like food intake, sleep, stress, and other hormones. When ghrelin levels are high, it can make us feel hungry and crave calorie-rich foods. Elevated ghrelin levels may lead to weight gain if you keep increasing your food intake.


Leptin is a hormone fat cells produce that regulates appetite and energy balance. This “satiety hormone” helps to communicate the body’s energy status to the brain.

Energy Regulation

Leptin signals your body’s energy stores to the brain. As fat cells increase in size and number, they release more leptin into the bloodstream. Elevated leptin levels then signal the brain to indicate sufficient energy available.

Appetite Suppression

Leptin functions as an appetite suppressant by reducing hunger and increasing feelings of satiety. When high leptin levels signal to the brain that the body has enough energy reserves, it lowers appetite and reduces the desire to eat. Optimal leptin levels help to prevent overeating and maintain a healthy body weight.

Feedback Loop

Leptin works in a feedback loop to regulate appetite. As fat cells release leptin, it acts on receptors in the brain, inhibiting the release of appetite-stimulating hormones while promoting the release of appetite-suppressing hormones. This intricate hormonal network helps to maintain a balance in energy intake and expenditure.

Leptin Resistance

In some cases, individuals may develop leptin resistance. Leptin resistance occurs when the brain becomes less responsive to leptin signals, leading to a reduced ability to regulate appetite. When this happens, your hunger can increase, causing you to overeat and possibly gain weight.

Leptin resistance is commonly associated with obesity and can be influenced by genetics, chronic inflammation, and hormonal imbalances.


Also known as the stress hormone. During periods of stress, cortisol levels spike. This prepares our bodies for a “fight or flight” response, which requires lots of energy. Since energy is used up, our body will need to replenish energy, which is why cortisol also increases our cravings for fatty and sugary foods. The more our body is exposed to cortisol, the more likely we are to over-indulge in unhealthy foods which leads to unhealthy weight gain.

Maintaining Hormonal Health

Managing proper hormone regulation is essential for both weight loss and your overall health and well-being. If you think a hormonal imbalance is causing your weight gain, consider these tips to help your hormonal health.

1. Balanced Diet

Eat a nutritious diet of unprocessed foods, including fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Avoid excessive sugar, processed foods, and unhealthy fats, as they can disrupt hormone levels.

2. Regular Exercise

Engage in regular physical activity to support hormone regulation and weight management. Both cardiovascular exercise and strength training can be beneficial.

3. Stress Management

Practice stress-reducing techniques like meditation, deep breathing exercises, or engaging in enjoyable activities. Chronic stress can disrupt hormone levels, so finding healthy ways to manage stress is crucial.

4. Adequate Sleep

Prioritise quality sleep and aim for 7-9 hours per night. Sleep deprivation can affect hormone balance, including those related to appetite and metabolism.

5. Limit Exposure to Toxins

Reduce exposure to environmental toxins like pesticides, chemicals, and endocrine-disrupting substances in some plastics and household products.

6. Maintain a Healthy Weight

Strive for a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise. Excess body weight can impact hormone levels, particularly those involved in metabolism and insulin regulation.

7. Regular Medical Check-ups

Visit your healthcare provider regularly for check-ups and screenings. They can assess your hormone levels and provide appropriate guidance.

Saxenda: weight loss through hormone regulation

We help clients with obesity. One of our weight loss treatments is Saxenda, a weight loss injection approved for obesity treatment  in Singapore.

Saxenda, which is also known as liraglutide, specifically targets hormones involved in weight management. It helps regulate insulin and glucagon secretion, promoting satiety and reducing appetite. Here’s how Saxenda works:

  • Appetite control: Saxenda helps to reduce appetite and promote feelings of fullness. It acts on specific receptors in the brain that regulate hunger and satiety, leading to decreased food intake.
  • Glucose regulation: Saxenda can improve blood sugar control by reducing the release of glucagon, a hormone that increases blood sugar levels. It also slows down the rate at which the stomach empties, which helps regulate glucose absorption from food.
  • Weight loss promotion: Saxenda promotes weight loss by increasing the release of insulin, which helps regulate blood sugar levels and reduces fat storage. It also slows down the emptying of the stomach, leading to a prolonged feeling of fullness and reduced calorie intake.


We use Saxenda as part of a comprehensive weight loss treatment program that includes a reduced-calorie diet, increased physical activity, and behavioural changes.

Common Questions About Saxenda

Can Weight Loss Injections Like Saxenda Be Used Long-term?

The duration of Saxenda treatment varies and is determined by your doctor. They will assess if the medication is suitable for you and if it’s producing the desired results. Some individuals may benefit from using it for several weeks to achieve their weight loss targets, while others may require longer treatment to maintain their weight loss and prevent weight regain.

If you show a 5% weight loss with a controlled diet and exercise within 12 weeks, continuing the treatment may be an option. Remember to follow your doctor’s advice for the best outcome.

What Are the Contraindications?

Saxenda should not be used by individuals with certain conditions or health profiles.

  1. Personal or family history of medullary thyroid cancer (MTC): Saxenda increases the risk of MTC in animals, so it’s not recommended for those with a history of this cancer.
  2. Multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome type 2 (MEN 2): Saxenda is not suitable for individuals with MEN 2, a genetic disorder linked to various endocrine tumours, including MTC.
  3. Serious allergic reaction to liraglutide or any Saxenda ingredients: If you’ve had a severe allergic reaction to liraglutide or any component in Saxenda, avoid using it.
  4. Pregnancy or breastfeeding: Saxenda is not safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding as its effects on developing babies and breast milk are unknown.


If you have any of these conditions, consult your doctor about alternative weight loss options that may be more suitable for you.

What Are the Potential Side Effects?

Before starting Saxenda, it’s essential to discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor. They can help you decide if Saxenda is the right option for you. Saxenda can have side effects which are mild and usually go away on their own. These include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation, headache, dizziness, fatigue, abdominal pain, indigestion, and injection site reactions.

Serious side effects with Saxenda are rare. These include pancreatitis , gallbladder problems, low blood sugar, kidney problems, depression and suicidal behaviour. 

If you experience any of these side effects, stop using Saxenda and seek immediate medical attention. 

How Much Weight Can I Expect to Lose on Saxenda?

The amount of weight you can lose on Saxenda varies from person to person. Studies showed significant weight loss in participants who were on Saxenda, with 62.3% of them losing at least 5% of their weight at an average of eight weeks.

A few factors that can affect how much weight you lose on Saxenda, including:

  • Your starting weight. The more you weigh to begin with, the more weight you are likely to lose.
  • Your age. Younger people tend to lose more weight than older people.
  • Your sex. Women tend to lose more weight than men.
  • Your genetics. Some people are more genetically predisposed to losing weight than others.
  • Your lifestyle. If you make changes to your lifestyle, such as eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly, you are more likely to lose more weight.

How Can I Get Saxenda in Singapore? Can I Get It From Any Doctor?

Saxenda is a prescription medicine. You can only get it from a qualified medical practitioner. 

SL Aesthetic Clinic provides Saxenda as a part of our comprehensive weight management solutions. Our doctors prescribe it as a daily injection to help obese individuals lose weight, while also recommending diet and exercise regimes that will help them keep the weight off.

Book a consultation today to see if Saxenda fits your health profile.

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