Leptin and ghrelin are two main hormones that are released to help keep our hunger and appetites in balance. Disruptions with these hormones can lead to weight gain and other health problems. Let’s take a deeper look into what these hormones do and how they could be impacting your life.
What Is Leptin?
After eating, leptin is released from fat cells to signal to your body to stop feeling hungry and to begin burning calories. The easy way to think about leptin is to consider it your “satiety” or “starvation” hormone. It is your body’s way of saying you have enough fat and you don’t need to eat anymore.
What Is Ghrelin?
Ghrelin is often referred to as the “hunger” hormone. It is released to stimulate appetite, induce fat storage, and promote eating. It is highest in the morning and before mealtimes.
Impact of Hormonal Imbalance
Sweet! Leptin is going to help me feel full and burn more calories. So let’s produce more of it! Not exactly. The more fat cells you have, the more leptin is produced. Unfortunately, like with insulin and diabetes, too much leptin can actually lead to leptin resistance. This means your cells will not respond properly to the leptin giving you that same satiety feeling. Leptin levels may be high but the cells in your body that are supposed to be receiving the signal may be “deaf” to what is going on. It’s as if someone won’t stop knocking on your door. The first few times you might open the door to answer, but as time passes you are just going to ignore this pestering in the hope that it will go away. When this happens, instead of triggering weight loss, a growing number of people suffer from obesity instead (1). So if you have eaten half a pizza, plus some pie and are still feeling starving, you may be suffering from leptin resistance and a leptin/ghrelin hormone imbalance.