Have you ever thought about what hormones are and how they work in our body? Hormones are chemical messengers produced by the endocrine system and are passed straight into the bloodstream. They help to control many body functions, such as growth, repair and reproduction.
Now, let's focus on how hormones affect our hunger and cravings.
Are you craving late night snacks? Then the hunger hormone ‘ghrelin’ knocks at your door! Ghrelin is a hormone that increases appetite that plays a huge role in body weight. It is released primarily in the stomach and is thought to signal hunger to the brain. Normally, ghrelin levels go up dramatically before you eat; this signals hunger. They then go down for about three hours after the meal.
This hormone feels like ‘I am hungry! I should eat!’
But is there a hormone that decreases your appetite?
Yes! Leptin is a hormone, made by fat cells, that decreases your appetite. Leptin signals to hypothalamus that we have enough fat, so we can eat less or stop eating. Leptin may also increase metabolism, although there is conflicting research on this point.
This feels like ‘Oh, I’m full. I don’t need any more food.’