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Ghrelin Explained – What Is The Hunger Hormone

Ghrelin the hunger hormone

Hormones play a big part in our day, they regulate our mood, affect our energy levels and have a significant impact on our appetite and behaviour towards food and mealtimes. It might come as a surprise that it is actually our hunger hormone Ghrelin that drives your appetite more than anything else. 

What Is Ghrelin?

Commonly referred to as the ‘hunger hormone’, ghrelin stimulates your appetite by sending messages to your brain saying “it’s time to eat”. As well as making you want to eat more food, it also promotes fat storage. Ghrelin is produced in the stomach with smaller amounts secreted by the brain, small intestine and pancreas. Ghrelin also encourages and increases the release of growth hormone from the pituitary gland, which helps maintain your metabolism, breaks down body fat, and builds muscles.

If you are trying to lose weight but struggling, it is more than likely that your levels of Ghrelin are high, making maintaining a healthy weight difficult.

What Increases Levels Of Ghrelin?

Like all hormones, the levels of Ghrelin will fluctuate throughout the day, as you can imagine just before mealtimes our hunger will rise and fall dramatically. As well as when your stomach becomes empty, this will release the hormone and signal the brain to eat food.

Diets and fasting can also make your ghrelin levels rise. When we restrict calories and lose weight as a result, ghrelin levels increase significantly, which is why you can crave food especially sweet food when you’re trying your hardest to avoid it! It also means that trying to keep weight off long term after a diet is near impossible as your Gherlin levels will rise.

How To Control And Manage Ghrelin?

Ghrelin is a hormone and like all hormones, it can often have a plan of its own. However, there are simple lifestyle changes that can help you keep your appetite hormones in check and maintain a healthy weight.

1. Get Your Beauty Sleep

Sleep is extremely important when it comes to physical health as well as mental health. Not getting enough sleep on a regular basis can raise ghrelin levels, increasing your appetite. Try and get at least 7-8 hours of sleep daily.

2. Start The Day With Protein 

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, it kickstarts metabolism. But are you always hungry after breakfast? Do you find yourself starting to dig into your packed lunch at 10 or 11am? Try starting the day with a high-protein breakfast this may leave you feeling fuller for longer and control your hunger.

3. Stop The Fad Diets

Drastic weight changes and crash diets can disrupt your key appetite hormones. Dieters who have lost weight tend to have higher ghrelin levels, so are more likely to return to their old eating habits and gain weight after dieting. A balanced diet can help you maintain a healthy weight and balance your hormones.

4. Change Your Eating Behaviour 

Eating slower helps you feel fuller faster, it takes on average 20 minutes for your body to realise you are full, so slow down, enjoy your food and let your hormones catch up.

. You might have heard of the 32 chew rule, now we know this will be a struggle if you’re enjoying a bowl of soup, but where you can chew more! The more you break down the food and digest it the better.

If you are interested in a gastric procedure such as the gastric band, gastric sleeve, gastric bypass or ESG. You can contact our expert team today and book a free consult with one of our weight loss surgeons.


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