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War Of Hunger Hormones: Leptin And Ghrelin

hunger hormones

If there was a hormone in your body whose chief job was to make you feel hungry, most of us probably wouldn’t be too keen on it. But if there was a hormone that decreased our appetites, we’d order buckets of it!

Well, let me introduce you to some hormones that do just those things: the hunger hormones, leptin, and ghrelin.

Leptin is the feeling full (satiety) hormone  & GHRELIN is the hunger (appetite) hormone

These two hormones signal our body  ‘TO EAT OR NOT TO EAT’

Leptin

This hormone is secreted by the fat cells in adipose tissue, travels through blood via the circulatory system to the appetite center of the brain. It is a result of a buildup of fat It does not affect food intake from meal to meal, instead controls energy expenditure over the long term. Its job is to signal your brain when you are full, triggering you to stop eating. Its role in weight loss, weight gain and obesity has been widely studied.

However, your body mechanism goes for an imbalance when a condition called leptin resistance (a lot of fat but the brain can’t see it) sets in causing the brain to be starved, causing obesity.

Basically for weight loss, the more leptin the better.

Ways to increase leptin and ensure a speedy metabolism:

  • Get more sleep
  • Take omega 3 supplements
  • Avoid severe calorie restrictions
  • Consume enough fiber and complex carbs( fruits and vegs)
  • Perform high-intensity interval training- HIIT
  • Don’t skip breakfast
  • hormones-Insulin and serotonin and estrogen stimulate leptin secretion.
Hunger hormones

Ghrelin

It’s a hormone made by the stomach in response to hunger ( when it is empty). Ghrelin also travels to the brain via the circulatory system and tells the brain that you are hungry. If you want to lose weight, you want less ghrelin so you don’t get hungry and vice-versa if you want to gain weight.

Both hormones regulate appetite and hunger and maintain homeostasis, keeping you adequately fed.

When you are trying to lose fat, your body will respond by changing hormone levels so that you get hungrier. The key here would be WHAT you eat! Because, now, unless you are successful in losing that fat and keeping it off for good, the dreaded yo-yo dieting phenomenon creeps up its ugly head.

Most people who go on a diet and lose fat end up gaining that weight within a year. WHY? 

Here are some reasons-

  • People view ‘diet’ as a short-term solution and don’t really change their behaviors
  • Our body wants to remain in homeostasis i.e. doesn’t want to change. So, if we eat less consistently, our body compensates by making us more hungry and creates fat storage which helps in the time of instant fuel requirement.
  • Excessive dieting with no exercise causes muscle loss, which later compels the body to alter metabolism and store more fat, leading to long-term weight gain.

Balancing hormones can be tricky!

balancing hormones

The 2 main players of our hunger cycle, leptin and ghrelin (with help of a few more hormones also)  literally dictate whether we will gain weight or lose weight. Our only contribution, as an owner of our body, would be to learn and strike a balance by maintaining healthy eating and physical habits and not let one override the other.

This article is contributed by Daniyah Irfan!

Author Bio: Dt. Daniyah Irfan, BSc Nutrition and PG diploma in Dietetics and Applied Nutrition from Mumbai University. Holistic Nutritionist, Mindful health care expert, Certified life coach, & Nutripreuner. Life member of Indian Dietetic Association. Transformed the health of many and now on a mission to educate the new generation towards healthy eating habits for optimum physical and mental wellbeing.

 Message for everyone: Be ready to do whatever it takes to be a health warrior!

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