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Cortisol, adrenal dysregulation, and leptin resistance are all leading to weight retention!

Weight loss can be a challenging journey, and sometimes it feels like no matter what we do, those extra kilos just won't budge. However, it's important to recognise that there may be underlying factors contributing to weight retention. Today, we will explore the connection between cortisol, adrenal dysregulation, and leptin resistance and how they can hinder weight loss progress. Let's dive in!

The Role of Cortisol and Adrenal Dysregulation:

Cortisol, often referred to as the stress hormone, plays a crucial role in our body's response to stress. However, chronic stress can lead to dysregulation of cortisol production, resulting in elevated levels over an extended period. This can have negative implications for weight management. Studies have shown that high cortisol levels are associated with increased appetite, particularly for calorie-dense foods, and the accumulation of abdominal fat (1).

Moreover, skipping breakfast, relying heavily on caffeine (such as coffee) in the morning, and following restrictive diets can further disrupt cortisol levels and adrenal function. These habits put additional stress on the body and may contribute to cortisol dysregulation (2, 3).

The Impact of Binge Eating and Emotional Eating:

Engaging in binge eating or emotional eating patterns can significantly affect weight management. These behaviors are often triggered by emotional distress, and they can disrupt the delicate balance of hormones involved in appetite regulation, including leptin. Leptin is a hormone produced by fat cells that signals the brain to regulate hunger and satiety. Leptin resistance, a condition where the body becomes less responsive to the hormone, can develop as a result of chronic overeating and obesity (4).

The Influence of Excessive Obligations and Phone Usage:

Leading a fast-paced, high-stress lifestyle can take a toll on our overall well-being, including weight management. Constantly prioritising others' needs and neglecting self-care can contribute to chronic stress, leading to cortisol dysregulation. Furthermore, excessive phone usage, particularly before bed, can disrupt sleep patterns and impair hormonal balance, including leptin signaling (5).

Understanding Leptin Resistance:

Leptin resistance occurs when the body becomes less responsive to the hormone's signals, leading to disrupted appetite regulation and decreased energy expenditure. This condition can develop as a result of various factors, including chronic overeating, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle (6). Addressing the root causes, such as stress management and adopting healthy eating and exercise habits, is essential to improve leptin sensitivity and support weight management efforts.

In conclusion, recognising the impact of cortisol dysregulation, adrenal dysfunction, and leptin resistance on weight retention is crucial for developing effective strategies for healthy weight management. By addressing underlying factors such as chronic stress, unhealthy eating patterns, and lifestyle habits, we can optimize our body's hormonal balance and support our weight loss goals.


  1. Epel ES, et al. Stress may add bite to appetite in women: a laboratory study of stress-induced cortisol and eating behavior. Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2001;26(1):37-49.

  2. Yamaji T, et al. Acute effects of coffee on cardiovascular outcomes: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2020;76(20):2328-2341.

  3. Gibson EL. The psychobiology of comfort eating: implications for neuropharmacological interventions. Behav Pharmacol. 2012;23(5-6):442-460.

  4. Ahima RS, et al. Regulation of eating behavior and energy balance by the endocannabinoid system. Physiol Behav. 2005;85(1-2): 801-804.

  5. Hale L, et al. Mobile phone use before bedtime impairs sleep: evidence from a population-based cohort study. BMJ Open. 2011;1(2):e000218.

  6. Ahima RS, et al. Leptin and the neuroendocrinology of fasting. J Clin Invest. 1999;104(7): 797-803.

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