Ghrelin and leptin are two hormones that have been recognized to have a major influence on energy balance and weight. 

Today, we are going to focus on ghrelin, and you can read about the King of Hormones… Leptin… in my next post.

The discovery of ghrelin in 1999 is a major breakthrough in understanding the critical biologic function of regulating energy homeostasis. Future research will certainly be exciting for the possibility of developing new avenues to energy balance and diseases of impaired growth.
Ghrelin is a fast-acting hormone secreted by the stomach that makes you hungry. It also plays a significant role in how quickly your hunger starts tugging at you again. Ghrelin also has an effect on the gastrointestinal tract, immune cell activation and inflammation.
The ghrelin hormone not only stimulates the brain giving rise to an increase in appetite, but also favours the accumulation of lipids in visceral fatty tissue, located in the abdominal zone and considered to be the most harmful. This is the conclusion of research undertaken at Metabolic Research Laboratory of the University Hospital of Navarra, published recently in the International Journal of Obesity.

Ghrelin, Junk Food and High Calorie Snacks

Studies indicate that having high levels of ghrelin can make junk-food and high calorie snacks seem more appealing. This may be why we choose chocolate or sweets over fruits and vegetables, more so when we are hungrier. The effect of this hormone is so profound that it mimics a fasting state within the body.

The brain responds with a mild panic response, causing it to target high-energy foods. These are normally the food types which provide more energy than be readily used by the body, and are quickly stored as fat.

This is why there is an increased appetite for high-calorie foods and not low calorie items. Studies show that the brain reward system became more active in patients who were administered ghrelin as compared to those who were not.

 How To Tame Your Ghrelin Levels

The best way to be proactive with your hunger is to eat small, protein rich meals throughout the day. If you are having something every 2 to 3 hours, you won’t have a chance to become ravenous. By keeping your body eating on a regular basis, the ghrelin levels will not take over and make you want to consume too much food. Consuming some protein with every meal will enable you to stay satisfied longer and greatly assist with weight control.

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