Have you ever heard of hunger hormones?
One of these hormones, Ghrelin, increases our appetite and make us eat (you’ve heard this in action when you hear your stomach grumbling). While the other, Leptin, primarily works to decrease our appetite (I need some more of this one, how about you?)
This is the first post in a series about hunger hormones. By understanding these hormones and how they affect you on a daily basis, you can manage your weight better and time your meals to optimal times to work with your body.
Ghrelin is a hormone that increases your appetite. Ghrelin is released in the stomach and has the task of sending signals to your brain so that you can recognize you are hungry.
The body produces more ghrelin if a person is not eating enough. Therefore, skipping meals equals more ghrelin secretion. However, ghrelin in normal circumstances is reduced if the individual is eating too much. Studies have shown that levels of ghrelin increase in individuals who are suffering from anorexia nervosa. Conversely, ghrelin levels also decrease in obese children.
According to a study conducted in Germany, ghrelin may play a huge role in determining the length of time that “hunger” will be felt by a person. Normally, ghrelin levels dramatically increase when a person is hungry and eventually subside after having a meal. Researchers also reveal that the role of ghrelin is not only limited to increasing appetite. The hormone ghrelin additionally has the complex task of regulating an individual’s body weight.
Leptin functions as the appetite suppressor. This hormone is also believed to play a major role in a person’s energy balance. Some experts believe that leptin can also be responsible for regulating ghrelin hormones. It is leptin that sends signals to the brain to recognize that the body has enough immediate energy stores, or simply put, has eaten enough.
Unfortunately, studies have shown that people who are obese have often become resistant to the signals of leptin, despite the fact that they have high amounts of leptin in their body. Normally, the more fats you have stored, the higher your leptin levels should be. However, some factors also need to be taken into consideration such as the last time you ingested food, as well as your sleeping patterns.
How Macronutrients Affect Our Hunger Hormones
A study led by David Cummings, M.D. from the University of Washington revealed how macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fats) influence the ups and downs of one’s appetite. During the said study, experts found that proteins have the highest influence with regard to suppressing a person’s appetite.
Fats were also found to only have neutral effects on an individual’s appetite. Researchers discovered that although carbohydrates initially lower one’s appetite, they will later increase an individual’s appetite to levels higher than before the carbohydrates were introduced into the body.
So if you want to lose weight, a very good start is to eat more proteins and less carbs, especially sugar-rich, high-GI carbs!