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What Are Hunger Hormones?

What Are Hunger Hormones?

What Are Hunger Hormones?

Hormones are the body’s chemical messengers secreted by various glands spread throughout the body. This intricate network of glands and hormones is referred to as the endocrine system, and it’s the job of the endocrine system to tell each part of the body what to do when to do it, and how long to do it.

 

Basically, any function that takes place in the body occurs under the direction of hormones.

 

Hormones travel through the blood to various tissues and organs, instructing them what to do. Included in the various functions that hormones regulate are:

 

  • Metabolism
  • Mood
  • Growth and development
  • Reproduction
  • Sexual function

 

Hormones even affect our appetite and hunger levels and play a pivotal role in the ultimate success (or failure) of weight loss.

 

Today, we key in on those specific hormones that impact hunger as well as steps you can take to help keep them under control and guarantee weight loss success with minimal suffering.

 

Let’s get started with the most well-known hormone associated with hunger...

 

Ghrelin -- The Hunger Hormone

 

Ghrelin is known is the “hunger hormone”, and while it does have a stimulatory effect on food intake, that just begins to scratch the surface of this multifaceted peptide.[2]

 

Besides driving us to eat, ghrelin has also been found to[2]:

 

  • Inhibit insulin secretion
  • Regulate gluconeogenesis/glycogenolysis
  • Prevent muscle atrophy by stimulating muscle cell differentiation
  • Decrease thermogenesis to regulate energy expenditure
  • Reduce sympathetic nerve activity to enhance survival rates following a heart attack
  • Modulate bone formation and metabolism by regulating osteoblast proliferation and differentiation

 

When the stomach is empty, ghrelin is secreted which instructs our hypothalamus (the region of the brain that regulates food intake and appetite) that it’s time to it. Levels of ghrelin are the highest right before we eat, and at their lowest around one-hour post-feeding.[1]

However, normal functioning of ghrelin is impaired in overweight and obese individuals, which means that ghrelin levels do not decline as much following a meal and can result in overeating.[3]

 

How to Control Ghrelin

 

Research has found that consuming protein at every meal can have a significant effect on lowering ghrelin levels[4,5], which just serves as further evidence that a high-protein diet does a body good.

 

Additional studies show that limiting intake of refined sugars (especially sugary drinks) may also help as they can impair normal ghrelin response following meals.[6,7]

 

Leptin

 

Whereas ghrelin is the hormone most closely associated with hunger, leptin is most well-known for its role in helping us feel full and satisfied after a meal. Hence, its name -- the satiety hormone.[1]

 

Leptin is secreted by adipocytes (fat cells) and instructs the hypothalamus when we’ve consumed enough energy and do not need to eat anymore, which helps prevent overeating.

 

When we diet, leptin levels decline, which is why we tend to feel hungrier more often when dieting -- the signal that tells our brains we’ve had enough to eat isn’t as strong as it is when we’re in maintenance or bulking mode.[8]

 

Similar to impact excess body weight has on the normal function of ghrelin, being overweight or obese also impair leptin function, a condition more commonly known as leptin resistance.

 

In fact, one study noted that obese individuals can have leptin levels 4x higher than that of normal-weight people.[9]

 

Under normal conditions, high leptin levels should prevent overeating, but excess body fat prevents leptin from working as it should. Essentially, leptin’s signal doesn’t register properly in the brain, which makes our bodies think they’re starving when in actuality it has far more energy than it possibly needs.

 

Three known contributors to leptin resistance are excess body fat, chronically elevated insulin levels, and hypothalamic inflammation.[10,11]

 

How to Control Leptin

 

For starters, maintaining healthy body weight and favorable body composition helps keep the leptin system functioning properly. Additionally, various studies show that getting sufficient amounts of both exercise and sleep may help maintain leptin sensitivity and function.[12,13]

 

Lastly, consuming certain “anti-inflammatory” foods, such as fatty fish (which are high in omega-3 fatty acids) and limiting consumption of inflammatory foods (refined sugars, trans fats, etc.) may help, too.[14]

 

Cortisol

 

When we think about hormones that regulate our hunger, we almost always think of leptin and ghrelin, but cortisol might just be the most underrated hormone in the body that impacts hunger.

 

As you probably know, cortisol is the “stress” hormone that is secreted by our adrenal glands whenever we encounter or perceive a threat.

 

So, what does being stress have to do with hunger?

 

Again, as you’re all too familiar with, when we are stressed, we tend to crave all the “wrong” types of foods -- that is foods high in fat, sugar, and salt, which cause us to overeat and subsequently gain body fat.[15]

 

Moreover, chronic stress also encourages the body to store more abdominal fat and can impair insulin function in the body, which hinders your body’s ability to properly use and store glucose.

 

How to Control Cortisol

 

Getting enough sleep, meditation, listening to calming music, and not cutting calories too low when dieting all help keep cortisol in check, which has the added effect of keeping hunger and appetite on an even keel.[16]

 

Neuropeptide Y

 

As the name implies, neuropeptide Y is a peptide hormone secreted by cells in the brain. It stimulates appetite, especially for carbs, and is highest in times of stress, such as prolonged food deprivation or periods of fasting.[17,18]

 

How to Control Neuropeptide Y

 

Keeping stress in check is one of the best things you can do to help avoid ravenous hunger pains for carb-rich foods. Additionally, avoiding lengthy fasts (>24 hours) can help prevent neuropeptide Y levels from rising too high.[19]

 

Finally, consuming diets high in both protein and fiber have been noted to keep levels of neuropeptide Y in check.[20,21]

 

Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 (GLP-1)

 

GLP-1 is a peptide hormone produced by cells in the gut when food enters the intestines. It plays a key role in maintaining steady blood sugar levels as well as making us feel full and satisfied.[22]

 

Research has shown that increasing levels of GLP-1 may help individuals consume fewer calories at mealtime, which support weight loss.[22]

 

How to Control GLP-1

 

Various studies show that consuming diets high in protein and green leafy vegetables help increase concentrations of GLP-1, which promotes fullness and satiety, helping stop us from overeating.[23,24]

 

Avoiding inflammatory foods is also important as some research indicates that chronic inflammation is linked to lower GLP-1 levels.[25]

 

Cholecystokinin (CCK)

 

CCK, much like GLP-1, is another satiety hormone secreted in the gut that promotes satiety. Studies have shown that higher levels of CCK increase feelings of fullness and help reduce calorie intake in both obese and lean individuals.[26,27]

 

How to Control CCK

 

Research shows that consuming protein, fiber, and healthy fats all help increase CCK concentrations in the body, which helps keep calorie intake (and ultimately your waistline) in check.[28,29]

 

Need Help Controlling Hunger?

 

As we’ve shown several times in this guide, diet, activity, and stress levels all play a role in keeping hunger in check.

 

Consuming diets high in protein, vegetables, and fiber all help increase satiety and reduce levels of hunger. Additionally, maintaining healthy levels of exercise, mitigating stress, and getting enough sleep every night also play a role in keeping your appetite under wraps.

 

Even if you’re doing everything “by the book”, sometimes it helps to have some extra help to keep hunger at bay, especially when you’re dieting.

 

That’s why we created 1UP Appetite Suppressant!

 

1UP Appetite Suppressant is a non-stimulant diet and weight loss aid scientifically-formulated to help reduce cravings and increase feelings of fullness. We’ve also included ingredients, such as 5-HTP, that support a healthy mood, something which is known to suffer when dieting on low calories.

 

References

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  2. Pradhan G, Samson SL, Sun Y. Ghrelin: much more than a hunger hormone. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2013;16(6):619–624. doi:10.1097/MCO.0b013e328365b9be
  3. Daghestani, M. H. (2009). A preprandial and postprandial plasma levels of ghrelin hormone in lean, overweight and obese Saudi females. Journal of King Saud University - Science, 21(2), 119–124. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jksus.2009.05.001
  4. Gannon, M. C., & Nuttall, F. Q. (2011). Effect of a high-protein diet on ghrelin, growth hormone, and insulin-like growth factor-I and binding proteins 1 and 3 in subjects with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Metabolism: Clinical and Experimental, 60(9), 1300–1311. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.metabol.2011.01.016
  5. Lejeune, M. P. G. M., Westerterp, K. R., Adam, T. C. M., Luscombe-Marsh, N. D., & Westerterp-Plantenga, M. S. (2006). Ghrelin and glucagon-like peptide 1 concentrations, 24-h satiety, and energy and  substrate metabolism during a high-protein diet and measured in a respiration chamber. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 83(1), 89–94. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/83.1.89
  6. Ma X, Lin L, Yue J, et al. Ghrelin receptor regulates HFCS-induced adipose inflammation and insulin resistance. Nutr Diabetes. 2013;3(12):e99. Published 2013 Dec 23. doi:10.1038/nutd.2013.41
  7. Teff, K. L., Elliott, S. S., Tschop, M., Kieffer, T. J., Rader, D., Heiman, M., … Havel, P. J. (2004). Dietary fructose reduces circulating insulin and leptin, attenuates postprandial  suppression of ghrelin, and increases triglycerides in women. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 89(6), 2963–2972. https://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2003-031855
  8. Wing, R. R., Sinha, M. K., Considine, R. V, Lang, W., & Caro, J. F. (1996). Relationship between weight loss maintenance and changes in serum leptin levels. Hormone and Metabolic Research = Hormon- Und Stoffwechselforschung = Hormones et  Metabolisme, 28(12), 698–703. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-2007-979881
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  11. Martin SS, Qasim A, Reilly MP. Leptin resistance: a possible interface of inflammation and metabolism in obesity-related cardiovascular disease. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2008;52(15):1201–1210. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2008.05.060
  12. Spiegel, K., Leproult, R., L’hermite-Baleriaux, M., Copinschi, G., Penev, P. D., & Van Cauter, E. (2004). Leptin levels are dependent on sleep duration: relationships with sympathovagal balance, carbohydrate regulation, cortisol, and thyrotropin. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 89(11), 5762–5771. https://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2004-1003
  13. Abd El-Kader S, Gari A, Salah El-Den A. Impact of moderate versus mild aerobic exercise training on inflammatory cytokines in obese type 2 diabetic patients: a randomized clinical trial. Afr Health Sci. 2013;13(4):857–863. doi:10.4314/ahs.v13i4.1
  14. Ellulu MS, Khaza'ai H, Patimah I, Rahmat A, Abed Y. Effect of long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on inflammation and metabolic markers in hypertensive and/or diabetic obese adults: a randomized controlled trial. Food Nutr Res. 2016;60:29268. Published 2016 Jan 29. doi:10.3402/fnr.v60.29268
  15. Epel, E., Lapidus, R., McEwen, B., & Brownell, K. (2001). Stress may add bite to appetite in women: a laboratory study of stress-induced cortisol and eating behavior. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 26(1), 37–49.
  16. Uedo, N., Ishikawa, H., Morimoto, K., Ishihara, R., Narahara, H., Akedo, I., Fukuda, S. (2004). Reduction in salivary cortisol level by music therapy during colonoscopic examination. Hepato-Gastroenterology, 51(56), 451–453.
  17. Beck B. Neuropeptide Y in normal eating and in genetic and dietary-induced obesity. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2006;361(1471):1159–1185. doi:10.1098/rstb.2006.1855
  18. Kinzeler, N. R., & Edwards, K. S. (2009). Functional implications for modulating neuropeptide Y gene expression in the dorsomedial hypothalamus. The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience, 29(23), 7389–7391. https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1647-09.2009
  19. Baskin, D. G., Breininger, J. F., & Schwartz, M. W. (1999). Leptin receptor mRNA identifies a subpopulation of neuropeptide Y neurons activated by fasting in rat hypothalamus. Diabetes, 48(4), 828–833. https://doi.org/10.2337/diabetes.48.4.828
  20. White, B. D., He, B., Dean, R. G., & Martin, R. J. (1994). Low protein diets increase neuropeptide Y gene expression in the basomedial hypothalamus of rats. The Journal of Nutrition, 124(8), 1152–1160. https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/124.8.1152
  21. Holzer P, Farzi A. Neuropeptides and the microbiota-gut-brain axis. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2014;817:195–219. doi:10.1007/978-1-4939-0897-4_9
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  23. Montelius, C., Erlandsson, D., Vitija, E., Stenblom, E.-L., Egecioglu, E., & Erlanson-Albertsson, C. (2014). Body weight loss, reduced urge for palatable food and increased release of GLP-1  through daily supplementation with green-plant membranes for three months in overweight women. Appetite, 81, 295–304. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2014.06.101
  24. Gillespie, A. L., Calderwood, D., Hobson, L., & Green, B. D. (2015). Whey proteins have beneficial effects on intestinal enteroendocrine cells stimulating cell growth and increasing the production and secretion of incretin hormones. Food Chemistry, 189, 120–128. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodchem.2015.02.022
  25. Gagnon, J., Sauve, M., Zhao, W., Stacey, H. M., Wiber, S. C., Bolz, S.-S., & Brubaker, P. L. (2015). Chronic Exposure to TNFalpha Impairs Secretion of Glucagon-Like Peptide-1. Endocrinology, 156(11), 3950–3960. https://doi.org/10.1210/en.2015-1361
  26. Pi-Sunyer, X., Kissileff, H. R., Thornton, J., & Smith, G. P. (1982). C-terminal octapeptide of cholecystokinin decreases food intake in obese men. Physiology & Behavior, 29(4), 627–630. https://doi.org/10.1016/0031-9384(82)90230-x
  27. Perry B, Wang Y. Appetite regulation and weight control: the role of gut hormones. Nutr Diabetes. 2012;2(1):e26. Published 2012 Jan 16. doi:10.1038/nutd.2011.21
  28. Foltz, M., Ansems, P., Schwarz, J., Tasker, M. C., Lourbakos, A., & Gerhardt, C. C. (2008). Protein hydrolysates induce CCK release from enteroendocrine cells and act as partial agonists of the CCK1 receptor. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 56(3), 837–843. https://doi.org/10.1021/jf072611h
  29. Bourdon, I., Olson, B., Backus, R., Richter, B. D., Davis, P. A., & Schneeman, B. O. (2001). Beans, as a source of dietary fiber, increase cholecystokinin and apolipoprotein  b48 response to test meals in men. The Journal of Nutrition, 131(5), 1485–1490. https://doi.org/10.1093/jn/131.5.1485

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