Learning about the Hormones that Control Hunger


Typically hunger is the main reason why people forgo dieting and lack the will power to control their eating habits. A lot of research has been done to explain how hunger works, factors that trigger it and how to control it. That is why it is important to understand hunger physiology and the common triggers. There are several hormones that play a vital role in influencing hunger, they are commonly known as “hunger hormones”. These hormones include Ghrelin, Leptin and Neuropeptide Y abbreviated as (NPY). These three hormones are responsible for short and long term hunger levels. Let’s find out more about the hormones that control hunger and their effects to the body.


Leptin hormone is made by fat cells that reduce your appetite. It maintains the fat levels in the body constant. Hence it is referred to as a leveling hormone that works as a thermostat when it comes to body fat. Leptin is mainly released by fat cells and informs the brain the quantity of calories you are taking. When the calorie amount you are taking equals the calories you are burning, leptin remains at a steady level and sends fullness signals. It tells the brain not to overindulge. When you are on diet particularly a crash diet, the levels of leptin will go down and the fullness signal will not get to the brain as often or as strong. This increases hunger levels as the leveling hormone strives to protect you from starving.

Apart from the overall leptin amount released by fat cells, your brain should respond positively to leptin signals. Leptin sensitivity is a vital factor when it comes to overall fat levels in the body and obesity. For instance, both Leptin and Insulin tend to be secreted when you are having a rich carbohydrate meal. Insulin helps to converts the glucose in the blood into muscle or fat cells while leptin informs the brain that you have had enough and shouldn’t take more.

If your cells are non- reactive to the signals sent, you are considered to have some form of resistance. When a person has leptin and insulin resistance it implies that your body cells aren’t reacting aptly to the signals sent. Consequently, both insulin and glucose stay in the blood longer leading to fat loss. Meanwhile Leptin is not reaching the brain thus the fullness signal is not detected putting you into a vicious cycle of starvation and over eating.


Ghrelin hormone boosts appetite and influences body weight. This appetite inducer is primarily released in the abdomen and is said to send hunger signals to the brain. Studies have shown that Ghrelin levels increase in kids suffering from anorexia nervosa and decline in obese children. On the other hand, research has proved that Ghrelin levels determine the rate of hunger after a meal. Generally, Ghrelin levels increase significantly before you take a meal, this is an indication of hunger. The levels then decline after having a meal. When Ghrelin levels are very high a person craves for sweet things.

(NPY)Neuropeptide Y

As Ghrelin is a powerful appetite inducer, NPY is even more powerful. For instance, rats given NPY injection will crave sugar over sex. Reduced leptin levels and calorie restriction are the main triggers of NPY release. The effects of NPY may include excessive appetite and over eating as this hormone delays the fullness feeling when eating. This means that high NPY levels delays the fullness signal from being send to the brain.

Moreover, NPY has nutrient division effects which informs the body on how and where to store excess calories as either muscles or fat. Basically, too much NPY hormone in the body will not just make you less full but also store the calories you have taken in form of fat.

What triggers hunger hormones

There several factors that trigger these hunger hormones and make it difficult for one to follow a healthy diet plan.

  • Absence of sleep

Among the strongest triggers is absence of sleep. Lack of enough sleep slows metabolism, increases craving for sweet things and stimulates muscle loss causing insulin resistance while increasing hunger hormones and decreasing fullness signals. When you experience regular hunger puns, take a deep sleep.

  • Stress

Stress induces cortisol release while encouraging inflammation all over the body. Over time this may increase the risk of leptin and insulin resistance.

  • Fasting or crash dieting

If you have attempted crash dieting only to regain most or all of the pounds back, understand that hormone imbalance most likely played a vital role.

While there are numerous hormones that control hunger, the three discussed are just some of the unraveling this complex process.


About Tim Ferguson

Tim Ferguson is a dedicated weight loss enthusiast, blogger and medical expert from Tampa, Florida who strongly believes in using the best appetite suppressant to achieve the optimal weight loss. An expert in the science of appetite suppressant supplements, his posts feature some of his own personal recommendations. - View my

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