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What are Hunger Hormones?

GHRELIN vs. LEPTIN: How Bariatric Surgery Affects Hunger Hormones

The brain and body work together to either increase or decrease the desire for food consumption using what are referred to as hunger hormones. These are amino acids which alter a person’s interest in food consumption and can also have both positive and negative impacts on human emotion.

Two Types of Hunger Hormones

There are two essential types of hunger hormones; they are amino acids called leptin and ghrelin. The two work harmoniously to ensure the perfect balance of energy and satisfaction.


Produced in the body’s fat cells, Leptin is a hormone that is responsible for alerting the hypothalamus section of the brain that enough fats have been consumed and stored in the body. In other words, Leptin tells the brain that enough food has been consumed, decreasing the appetite.

Leptin keeps the body regulated by balancing the amount of fats/calories that are consumed versus how much are burned. It also monitors the amount of fat that is stored in the body.

The growing awareness of leptin production is that, while it is still being produced in the body, it is often not recognized by the brain. The message is not received and the brain does not create the sensation of the need to stop eating. As a result, this person will tend to overeat, which leads to obesity.

On the other side of the spectrum, some people don’t produce enough leptin, which means that they are never satisfied or ‘full’ after eating, and the brain compensates by sending hormones to alert the body that there isn’t enough fat stored. This, too, can lead to obesity.


Ghrelin is a hunger hormone that is produced in the stomach and serves as a reminder for the body that it is time to eat.

When the stomach is empty or enough calories aren’t being consumed, ghrelin is produced to alert the body that it requires nutrients. People who are on diets often find themselves hungry more often, and this is why.

With some people, ghrelin levels are lower than average, and they remain at that level without fluctuating. This causes the sensation of hunger to persist beyond sustenance even after having consumed enough food.

Hunger Hormones & Bariatric Surgery

Research has shown bariatric surgery has an effect on how much and how often these hormones are produced. While weight loss surgery is not intended to affect hormone growth, there are a few notable results in the way the body develops an appetite post-bariatric surgery. So how are these two hormones affected by bariatric surgery?

How does Bariatric Surgery Affect Leptin and Ghrelin?

Bariatric surgery has been linked to actually increasing the leptin hormone. For those that are obese due to the inability to recognize leptin levels, this does not really make a notable difference. For others, there could be an opportunity for natural weight loss from a natural decrease in the desire to eat.

Those whose bodies cannot recognize leptin production in their fat cells can still benefit from bariatric surgery. This is because the procedure actually decreases the amount of ghrelin being produced in the stomach.

Bariatric surgery, specifically laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy, involves reducing the size of the stomach overall. Since ghrelin is produced in the stomach, it physically can’t produce as much as the brain may demand, thus decreasing appetites naturally. As a result, the body overall is more able to regulate leptin production, thus creating a new balance between the two hormones.

By learning more about hunger hormones, people become equipped with a better understanding of how bariatric surgical procedures can alter the way that these hormones are produced. They can also use this information to make better choices in their diets, resulting in an overall benefit to both physical and mental health.

Contact The Bariatric Experts to Learn More

Are you tired of yo-yo dieting and getting no results or worried about your physical health because of obesity? Have you been told you are pre-diabetic or diabetic, and are now considering bariatric surgery? Don’t walk through this alone, we are here to help you make the decision on how to lose the weight for good! Contact The Bariatric Experts to learn about options, both surgical and non-surgical, that will help you achieve your weight loss goals.

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