Everything You Need To Know About The ‘Hunger’ Hormones

If you have opted for a certain type of diet in order to lose or gain weight, it is really important to keep in mind that the human body is not designed for rapid and sudden changes in weight. This can have a negative effect on your metabolism, as well as on your overall health.

Also, what you may not know is that your body produces two hormones that are scientifically proven to have a significant effect on regulating your food intake and controlling your weight. They also influence the energy balance of your body.

These hormones, which work in opposite directions, are called leptin, whose primary function is to send signals to your body that you are no longer hungry, and ghrelin, which is also known as the ‘hunger hormone’ due to the fact that it actually increases your appetite and is responsible for all those food cravings.

Though leptin and ghrelin are produced in different parts of your body, they ‘talk’ to your brain through the hypothalamus.

Leptin, also referred to as the ‘satiety hormone,’ regulates long-term energy balance by restraining the personal sensation of hunger and suppressing your desire to eat. This means that leptin is basically sending signals to our brains that we have enough fat stored in our body so that we could burn calories at a normal rate.

While the levels of leptin depend on both your body weight and the speed of your metabolism, some studies have shown that overweight and obese people can develop leptin resistance as a direct result of systematically ingesting too much food over a long period of time.

In addition to consuming too many calories, your body can become resistant to leptin if your hypothalamus is exposed to high levels of leptin, which can send wrong signals to the brain. The brain then causes your body to feel hungry.

Ghrelin, on the other hand, functions as a short-term weight regulator. This hormone is located in the stomach and the pancreas from where it travels to the brain, setting off the ‘hunger alarm.’ When we are hungry, the levels of ghrelin rise. After a meal, the levels decrease. In other words, if you want to lose weight, your primary goal is to lower your ghrelin level.

The amount of food you ingest has an impact on the levels of leptin and ghrelin that circulate through your system. These hormones both play significant roles in maintaining an energy balance in your organism: leptin is responsible for long-term effects whereas ghrelin induces a short-term impact.

Because the human body is a complex system, you should never attempt to shed or pack on pounds quickly. If you are determined to lose or gain weight, you have to either increase or decrease the amount of food you take in. However, this has a significant impact on your hormones, meaning that your body will react to any rapid weight changes, causing an irregular rising and falling in hormone levels that can take its toll on your entire system.

It’s also important to note that your diet can have an influence on your leptin and ghrelin levels. Generally speaking, eating increases leptin secretion whereas fasting increases ghrelin production. So, the type and amount of food you consume as well as the number of meals you eat on a daily basis have an effect on these hormones.

For instance, eating oily fish, which are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, makes you feel satiated longer, i.e. they lead to a decrease in hunger.

The quality of sleep also contributes to the increase or decrease of leptin and ghrelin levels: if you don’t get enough sleep, the levels of ghrelin will increase and you will feel hungry. This will also disrupt your glucose metabolism and insulin production.

Finally, you have to incorporate regular physical activity into your routine, taking into consideration your abilities, limitations, and goals. That’s why a workout plan that’s tailored to your needs will always produce better results than programs designed for the general population.


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