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You have heard it before: To lose weight, simply eat less and exercise more. Most people believe that they get fat because they consume more calories than they burn. It is an over simplistic way of seeing it. Let me be clear on this point.  This is absolutely TRUE.

But things are not that simple when it comes to losing fat. It is such simple advice that if it worked, I would be out of job.

"Eat Less, Exercise More” isn’t the answer for fat loss. The reasons are:
1. There are “Hormones” that make us eat more and exercise less.
2. Increased food intake and decreased exercise, is secondary to changes in the function of hormones.
3. The foods we eat disrupt the function our hormones, which makes us eat more and gain weight.

Here are the key hormones that make us fat.


Leptin is the appetite suppressor. It sends a signal to the brain that we have enough energy stored and that we don’t need to eat.

How does leptin work?

Leptin tells the brain that we have enough fat, so we can eat less or stop eating. Generally, the more fat you have, the more leptin you make; the less food you will eat. On the other hand, the less fat you have, the less leptin you have, and the hungrier you will be.

How does leptin make us fat?

If you have high leptin levels all the time, our body develops a resistance to leptin's appetite-cutting effects. Once our body is leptin resistant, the brain doesn’t “see” the leptin signal. It doesn’t see that we have enough fat stored and therefore thinks that we are starving. So we eat more.

The vicious cycle:

1. Eat more, gain body fat.
2. More body fat means more leptin in fat cells.
3. Too much fat means that proper leptin signalling is disrupted (leptin resistance).
4. The brain thinks you are starving, which makes you want to eat more.
5. You get fatter. And hungrier.
6. You eat more. Gain more fat.
And so on.


Insulin is the hormone that tells our cells to pick up glucose from the bloodstream. It is the hormone that tells your body to remove glucose from the blood and store it as fat.

How does insulin make us fat?

1. Insulin blocks the leptin signal in the brain. High insulin -> No leptin signal -> The brain doesn’t “see” that we have plenty of energy stored and thinks we’re starving, making us eat.

2. Insulin sends signals to the fat cells, telling them to store fat and to hold on to the fat that they already carry.

What causes insulin to go up?

When we eat a lot of carbs, it can lead to insulin resistance. Once our body is insulin resistant, the body's cells don’t “see” the insulin signal and therefore the pancreas need to make even more insulin.

Mass Carbs = Mass blood sugar.
Mass blood sugar = Mass insulin.
Mass insulin = Mass fat storage.


Testosterone is the sex hormone that is responsible for making males male, although women also have the hormone in small amounts.

Testosterone helps:

-Increase muscle mass and strength
-Reduce fat
-Stimulate sperm production
-Empower sex drive
-Maintain bone strength

How low levels of testosterone make us fat?

1. Testosterone is certainly a primary hormonal driver of muscle growth. Thus, the higher our testosterone levels are, the more muscle we build and the leaner we get. On the other hand, the lower the testosterone levels are, the fatter we get. 

2. Loss of muscles mass, inability to build muscles, low energy levels, increased body fat and mood changes are the symptoms of low testosterone levels. You don't feel like working out and you don't enjoy workouts if you have low testosterone levels.   


- Leptin resistance is believed to be a leading driver of obesity.
- Insulin resistance is a key feature of the metabolic syndrome and type II diabetes is.
- Testosterone is certainly a primary hormonal driver of muscle growth. Since women have significantly less testosterone, they cannot put on muscle mass as easily as men

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Written by Sapna Vyas Patel , PhD in Nutrition Science and Dietetics
Sapna writes simple, easy to understand articles that are based on pure scientific evidence. She is one of the most popular fitness professionals in India and is followed on social media by fitness enthusiasts, nutritionists, dieticians, doctors, trainers, and professionals.

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