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Can Hormone Imbalances Really Cause Weight Gain? The Truth About GLP-1 and GIP

Jul 29, 2023
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If you've been exercising and following a balanced diet but still can't seem to get the scale to budge, it may be worth investigating whether your GLP-1 and GIP levels could use some support.

Revitalize your health journey with the medical weight loss services at M. Zafar, MD, SC, serving Illinois statewide by Telehealth. Our practice offers innovative weight loss strategies, including the use of Tirzepatide (the active ingredient of Mounjaro™) and Semaglutide (the active ingredient of Ozempic™ and Wegovy™). Schedule a Telehealth appointment today by conveniently booking online.

 In the clinical trial, patients taking Tirzepatide lost on average up to 22.5% of their body weight depending on dose level. About one in three patients lost 25% or more of their body weight. All-inclusive pricing starts at just $275/month.

 In the clinical trial, patients taking Semaglutide achieved an average 15% reduction in body weight after titrating up to the maximum target dose. One in three lost 20% or more of their body weight. All-inclusive pricing is $275/month for all dose levels.

As you go about your busy day, a complex network of hormones in your body are working behind the scenes to keep your appetite, blood sugar, and metabolism in balance.

Many people struggle with weight gain and difficulty losing weight, often due to hormonal imbalances they are unaware of. If you've been exercising and following a balanced diet but still can't seem to get the scale to budge, it may be worth investigating whether your GLP-1 and GIP levels could use some support. Here's what you need to know about how these hormones influence your weight, signs your levels may be off, and strategies to help restore balance.

The Role of Hormones GLP-1 and GIP in Weight Management

The hormones glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) and gastric inhibitory polypeptide (GIP) play an important role in appetite regulation and weight management. GLP-1 and GIP are incretin hormones secreted by the intestines in response to food intake, especially carbohydrates and fats. They help regulate blood sugar levels by stimulating the release of insulin from the pancreas after eating.

In addition to controlling blood glucose, GLP-1 and GIP affect hunger and satiety signaling in the brain. GLP-1 delays gastric emptying and creates a feeling of fullness, which reduces appetite and food intake. GIP also appears to influence satiety and decrease food consumption when levels are increased.

Studies show GLP-1 levels tend to be lower in overweight and obese individuals. GLP-1 based medications are used to treat type 2 diabetes because they stimulate insulin secretion, but they also often result in weight loss as an added benefit.

Bariatric surgeries like gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy that reduce the size of the stomach and intestines also increase GLP-1 and GIP secretion, contributing to decreased hunger and greater weight loss post-surgery. The weight loss effects seem to diminish over time as the gut adapts, but diet and lifestyle changes can help maximize and maintain results.

In summary, maintaining healthy levels and activity of GLP-1, GIP and other satiety hormones is important for appetite regulation, blood sugar control and preventing unwanted weight gain. Diet, exercise and certain medications or procedures may help improve incretin hormone imbalances and support weight management efforts. Lifestyle interventions will still be key, but understanding the hormonal influences on hunger and weight can help you develop a tailored plan for success.

Signs You May Have a Hormone Imbalance Causing Weight Gain

Signs of a hormone imbalance causing weight gain may include:

  • Difficulty losing weight despite diet and exercise. If you have been consistently following a balanced diet and exercise plan but are still struggling to lose weight, an underlying hormone imbalance could be to blame. Certain hormones like insulin, cortisol, and leptin directly impact your metabolism and fat storage.
  • Changes in appetite or cravings. Feeling hungry all the time or experiencing intense cravings for sugary or fatty foods can indicate issues with hormones like ghrelin, which regulates appetite. Alternatively, losing your appetite or feeling full quickly after eating a little bit could signal leptin resistance, meaning your body isn't recognizing signals that you're full.
  • Fat accumulation in the midsection. Gaining weight specifically in the abdominal area and around the midsection is commonly caused by cortisol imbalance or insulin resistance. Both of these hormones influence where and how fat is distributed in the body.
  • Irregular or abnormal menstruation. For women, changes in the menstrual cycle such as missing periods, irregular periods, or very heavy periods could indicate polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or other reproductive hormone imbalances that can contribute to weight gain.
  • Sleep disturbances or changes in energy levels. Having trouble sleeping at night, feeling fatigued during the day, or fluctuations in energy and mood can point to imbalances in hormones like cortisol, melatonin, and thyroid hormones—all of which regulate your sleep-wake cycle and metabolism.
  • Digestive issues. Hormones have a significant impact on digestion, gut health and the gut microbiome. Bloating, gas, constipation or diarrhea may be related to imbalances in hormones such as ghrelin, GLP-1, and GIP that control appetite, digestion, and gut function.

How to Correct Hormone Imbalances With Medical Weight Loss

To correct hormone imbalances that may be contributing to weight gain, several medical interventions are available. 

GLP-1 Analog Therapy

GLP-1 analogs are injectable medications that mimic the effects of the GLP-1 hormone in the body to increase insulin production, decrease glucagon release, and slow stomach emptying. Medications like Ozempic and Wegovy (Semaglutide) may aid weight loss by reducing appetite and calorie intake. 

GIP Analog Therapy

GIP analogs are a newer class of injectable medication designed to block the effects of the GIP hormone, which may decrease fat storage and promote weight loss. The first GIP analog therapy, Mounjaro (Tirzepatide), was approved in 2022. GIP analogs are still being studied but show promise for weight loss by limiting calorie absorption and fat storage.

Lifestyle Modifications

In addition to medical interventions, lifestyle changes are critical to balancing hormones and maintaining weight loss. Key recommendations include:

  • following a balanced low-calorie diet with lean protein, high-fiber whole grains, fruits and vegetables
  • engaging in regular aerobic and strength-training exercise most days of the week
  • practicing stress reduction techniques like yoga or meditation
  • limiting alcohol, sugar, and processed carbohydrate intake
  • staying hydrated and drinking plenty of water throughout the day
  • aiming for 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night to allow hormones to regulate properly

By combining hormone-targeted medical treatments with sustainable lifestyle changes, you can correct underlying imbalances, better manage weight, and significantly improve your health and wellness. Be sure to speak with your doctor before starting any new medications or exercise programs. With time and consistency, you will start to notice positive changes in your hormone levels, metabolism, and waistline.


In conclusion, the research clearly shows that imbalances in the hormones GLP-1 and GIP can contribute to weight gain and difficulty losing weight. The good news is there are steps you can take to help rebalance these hormones and get your metabolism back on track. Focus on a balanced diet with lean proteins, high-fiber whole grains, and healthy fats. Limit excess sugar and processed carbs. Engage in regular exercise, especially a combination of cardio exercise and strength or resistance training. Get enough sleep every night and find ways to manage your stress. Making these lifestyle changes can help regulate your hunger hormones, boost fat burning, and make it easier to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. The power to balance your hormones and metabolism is within your control.

Dr. Zafar and our team can evaluate you to see if you’re a good candidate for medical weight loss hormone agonist treatmeant. If you live in Illinois and are ready to enhance your overall health and well-being, schedule a Telehealth appointment today by using our online booking tool.