Ghrelina: What is it? How is it produced? Effects, Differences and Levels of This Hormone

It is one of the most important hormones to target for natural weight loss and energy balance.

Many experts call the hunger hormone ghrelin because it works to increase appetite.

It is essential to understand that people have great control over their hormones to achieve sustainable weight loss.

This is because these hormones respond reliably to changes in diet, exercise, and stress that we maintain.

So we don’t need to resort to unnatural and harmful methods to lose weight fast; instead, we must focus on establishing a healthy eating environment.

A diet that encourages eating nutrient-dense foods, managing stress, moving our bodies consistently, and making long-term intelligent food choices is recommended.

In this way, you can control your weight by adapting ghrelin under the right circumstances.


What is?

Ghrelin is a hormone that increases appetite; it is considered a growth hormone-releasing peptide.

Since ghrelin makes you hungry, it makes sense that ghrelin levels tend to rise before meals and drop after meals.

Considered the only appetite-stimulating hormone in humans, ghrelin is one of the main factors contributing to people eating meat.

At the same time, this hormone is associated with excess food intake.

In general, ghrelin is a hormone that signals the brain to be hungry. It plays a crucial role in regulating calorie intake and body fat levels.

The levels of this hormone can increase during the diet, increasing the appetite and making it difficult to lose weight.

How is it secret?

It is produced in the stomach and fluctuates throughout the day depending on food intake.

As a peptide hormone, it is produced by ghreligenic cells located in the gastrointestinal tract, which communicate with the central nervous system, especially the brain.

Once it is produced in the stomach, the increased ghrelin levels signal to the brain that makes the person feel hungrier.

Effect on growth hormone and metabolism

When interrelated, ghrelin and growth hormone secretagogues increase body weight and fat mass.

The way to do this is by activating receptors in a part of the brain called the arcuate nucleus, which controls insulin and leptin sensitivity.

Ghrelin can sometimes override the signals sent from the gastrointestinal tract to the brain that tells us to stop eating, such as those caused by gastric distention.

This hormone also contributes to cellular changes, including alterations in the endothelial cells that line the blood vessels.

This hormone reduces fat utilization and is a vital component of the food reward process controlled by the brain’s pleasure-reward system.

Ghrelin levels are negatively correlated with weight, so diet (especially severe calorie restriction) increases ghrelin production.

Ghrelin has been found to play an important role in short-term food induction and long-term weight gain, but it also has other functions, including:

  • Regulation of growth hormone and insulin secretion.
  • Glucose and lipid metabolism.
  • Gastrointestinal motility.
  • Blood pressure and heart rate.
  • Neurogenesis (the process of generating neurons from neural stem cells).

Additionally, more ghrelin is released directly in response to stressful situations, which explains why so many people tend to eat when stressed.

By generating a stress cycle, ghrelin contributes to weight gain by maintaining a person’s stress levels and provokes strong urges to snack or overeat.

Difference between leptin and ghrelin

Ghrelin and leptin work together to facilitate eating, energy balance, and weight control.

Leptin is a hormone produced by fat cells that decreases appetite. Essentially it does the opposite of ghrelin, which increases your appetite.

Both hormones play a role in maintaining body weight. Within the brain, the same area that contains the receptors for ghrelin also includes the receptors for leptin.

Weight gain causes leptin levels in the blood to increase, as the body produces leptin based on the percentage of body fat.

The reverse is also true, meaning weight loss will decrease leptin levels (and often more hunger).

Overweight people are believed to be resistant to leptin, which contributes to more significant weight gain and difficulty losing it because they require more food to feel complete.

However, there is still a lot to research on how leptin resistance and increased ghrelin can contribute to obesity.

How can ghrelin levels be lowered and weight control?

There are several alternatives to achieving proper management of the levels of this hormone that are related to a healthy lifestyle.

Don’t over-restrict calories.

Ghrelin levels will increase if the person is constantly not eating well, which is one of the reasons why diets make most people feel starving.

On the other hand, overeating causes ghrelin levels to drop, but it shouldn’t be the goal either (unless the person is trying to gain weight).

Being in a calorie deficit makes you hungrier is one of the most challenging things about trying to lose weight.

However, certain types of eating habits have been found to help control ghrelin, including:

  • Eat unprocessed foods.
  • Eat nutrient-dense foods.
  • Eat enough fiber and protein.

Ghrelin levels should drop significantly after a meal, and you should remain inactive for at least three hours or more before starting to feel hungry again.

If the person notices that they are hungry shortly after eating or frequently want to eat something during the day, they should consider whether they are getting enough calories overall.

You may be able to afford to increase your intake of protein, healthy fats, or fiber from complex carbohydrates if you severely restrict one of these macronutrients.

Eating enough healthy foods to keep your activity level and feeling full of energy will prevent your appetite from increasing.

Eat enough protein

Even when people restrict their calorie intake, eating a higher proportion of protein foods can help control their appetite.

High protein meals affect glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptides, which mediate the ghrelin response.

Also, high-protein meals are more effective in slowing gastric emptying, prolonging feelings of fullness.

Protein has different functions in the diet:

  • You tend to avoid hunger.
  • Avoid the loss of muscle mass during the diet.
  • Increases the secretion of satiety hormones.
  • Increases the thermal effect of digestion.
  • Improves glucose homeostasis.

Do exercise

Ghrelin is known to increase, and leptin is also known to decrease after low to moderate aerobic activity (steady-state cardio), such as walking or running.

So instead of doing steady-state cardio, stock training is one of the best ways to control hunger and eating behavior.

You can burn belly fat and manipulate ghrelin and leptin to improve your chances of losing weight.

Burst training can also increase muscle mass, which means that when we eat more, we are better able to use the extra calories without gaining fat.

This type of training can contribute to weight loss, but it also helps control your appetite in the long run.

In addition, growth hormone concentrations (attributed to weight loss) increase when we do burst training.

Low levels of soluble leptin in the blood appear to be linked to obesity.

This link occurs because having fewer receptors to receive the hormone prevents leptin from adhering to cells, negating its weight-loss and weight-loss effects.

So burst training is most effective in increasing the cells’ sensitivity to leptin and increasing the overall levels of the hormone in the blood.

Burst training, like ghrelin, has long-term effects on weight loss that are beneficial long after training.

It is ideal for exercising every morning to maximize your exercise routine and control ghrelin and leptin better.

Exercising on an empty stomach can improve glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, which are linked to ghrelin production.

In addition to helping to prevent type 2 diabetes and lose weight, early exercise helps regulate appetite, especially hunger and snacking.

Morning exercise can cause higher satiety levels than exercising in the afternoon.

Maintain an adequate sleep cycle

Getting enough sleep (usually around 7 to 9 hours a night for most adults) is associated with better ghrelin and leptin management.

Lack of sleep is associated with increased ghrelin levels, appetite, and hunger.

Adequate stress management

In addition to making dietary changes and getting enough exercise, it is essential to direct attention to the stress level that the person is dealing with.

Behavioral interventions offer a practical method of reducing or stabilizing ghrelin levels after initial weight loss to improve weight loss maintenance.

This means that the cycle of stress must be stopped first to achieve weight loss goals and then effectively maintain a healthy weight over time.

Chronic stress is likely to increase your appetite, especially for comfort foods, and contribute to other unhealthy habits such as:

  • Overeat.
  • Eat sandwiches.
  • Do not cook at home.
  • Drink alcohol.
  • Falling asleep
  • Stay sedentary.

One suggestion is to end the day by practicing Tai Chi or yoga in the evenings, which helps set the tone for a good night’s sleep and prepares the body for a morning workout.

There are many ways to help manage stress, but ultimately different techniques will work for other people.

Here are some of the best ways to keep these levels low and reverse the stress of weight gain.

  • The meditation.
  • The sentence.
  • Write in a journal.
  • Spend time outdoors.
  • Maintain positive relationships.
  • Get enough rest.
  • The inactivity time.

Avoid processed foods

Foods that have been refined and processed to a delicious taste are generally high in calories and often low in nutrients.

They are called highly palatable foods by obesity and nutrition experts. They tend to cause overeating because they activate reward centers in the brain.

Usually, when we eat, chemical / hormonal messages are sent from the digestive tract to the brain and other parts of the body to indicate that we are full and stop eating.

But when we have the opportunity to eat highly processed, high-calorie foods, this feedback system doesn’t work as well.

Essentially, the human brain is willing to seek out and enjoy high-calorie foods, so including a lot of them in the diet interferes with appetite regulation.

The following foods tend to increase your appetite and the risk of overeating:

  • Cakes, donuts, cookies, cakes, brownies, and other sweets.
  • Sodas and sweetened beverages.
  • Pizza.
  • White bread, rolls, wraps, pita bread, etc.
  • Chocolate, sweets, and ice cream.
  • Salty snacks like chips and pretzels.
  • Fried foods.

It’s easy and tempting for us to eat foods rich in refined grains, added sugar, added fat, and synthetic ingredients, especially when these attributes are combined.

However, a whole food diet is the best way to regulate appetite since these foods are high in volume, high in fiber, low in calories, and higher in nutrients; these are:

  • Vegetables.
  • Fruits.
  • Proteins (such as eggs or fish).
  • Healthy fats (like avocado or coconut).
  • Generally, this type of food makes people more capable of rejecting the desire to continue eating.

Precautions Regarding Hunger Hormones and Weight Loss

While it is advisable to take steps to balance ghrelin or leptin levels naturally, there are weight loss programs that involve the use of artificial hormones.

Manipulating hormones to increase weight loss is not a new concept.

In the 1950s, the medical and scientific communities began recommending artificial hormone therapy to help people lose weight.

Topping the list of these weight loss programs is one of the most controversial tracks. Many of these programs use human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG).

HCG is a hormone produced during pregnancy that helps release a woman’s fat stores to support her baby’s growth.

This hormone stimulates the hypothalamus to initiate fat metabolism that provides nutrients for the baby. Without the baby, those nutrients turned into overweight need a place to go.

This diet allegedly helps men and women achieve weight loss by taking HCG and following a diet restricted to only 500 calories per day.

This is a starvation diet, so such programs have been shown to misuse the HCG hormone.

The fat released into the bloodstream supplements the calories that people do not consume each day.

This helps people on such a diet lose up to two pounds per day.

In this way, it is essential to mention two crucial facts to understand this type of hormone therapy for weight loss:

  • The HCG diet is not safe and does not work in the long term, as most people will regain the initial weight they lost.
  • The Food and Drug Administration has advised people to stay away from non-prescription weight loss products that contain CGH.

Therefore, a diet based on a healthy diet and an exercise routine is recommended and is more effective than diets with artificial hormones.