How Leptin And Ghrelin Effect Weight Loss

Weight loss is not just about calories in and calories out. There are other factors that influence weight loss, including hormones. Various hormones in the body have a huge influence over appetite and can sabotage anyone’s intention to lose weight or keep it off. Two of those hormones are leptin and ghrelin.

The Role of Leptin

Leptin is the hormone that helps you feel full. It is released while you eat, and it sends the message to stop eating when your body has had enough food. If the Leptin hormone is not working at optimal levels, then you don’t get that message, plain and simple. You will be hungry even after you have eaten a decent amount of food.

Leptin works in three ways:

  1. Counteracts the effects of anandamide – an acid that plays a role in appetite.
  2. Promotes alhpa-Melanocyte-stimulating hormone (a-MSH) – a hormone that suppresses appetite.
  3. Counteracts neuropeptide Y – a chemical messenger that controls hunger and thirst, as well as fatigue and body temperature.

Beyond reducing appetite, leptin can help the body burn more calories. Unfortunately, as you lose weight, you also lose leptin levels, which makes it harder to burn off calories and stop eating when full.

The Role Of Ghrelin

Ghrelin is a hormone that helps to simulate hunger. When you are hungry, ghrelin levels are high and when you are full ghrelin levels are low. Leptin counteracts the effects of ghrelin, which is why it is important to have adequate levels of leptin.

Ghrelin works in a few different ways:

  1. Promotes hunger by interacting with the brain cells in the hypothalamus.
  2. Increases gastric acid secretion to prepare for digestion.
  3. Promotes fat storage in the body.

When dieting, ghrelin levels increase. This can induce hunger pangs and make it harder to resist eating or overeating. Because ghrelin can also slow down the metabolism and decrease the ability to burn off fat, keeping off fat from the body can become a struggle for most people.

More Issues With Leptin And Ghrelin

Leptin and ghrelin work differently in the body when there is excess weight as opposed to less weight. Research has shown that obese people tend to overproduce leptin and under-produce ghrelin. This shows how it can be easy to start a diet but can become harder to stick with as levels of the hormones start to shift.

Another problem is that ghrelin is like a bully that can’t be beat by leptin. Leptin is not as great at communicating its messages, like ghrelin is. Moreover, your pleasure center that gets rewarded when you eat can easily override any message that you have had enough food to eat.

Lastly, leptin and ghrelin changes don’t just affect the appetite for a few weeks as you try to lose weight. Research has shown that there is a long-term effect on hormones from weight loss.

“One year after initial weight reduction, levels of the circulating mediators of appetite that encourage weight regain after diet-induced weight loss do not revert to the levels recorded before weight loss.” – NCBI