There Are 8 Hormones Making You Hungry All The Time. Here's Exactly What To Eat To Turn Off Each
1. Insulin, the "Storage" Hormone:
Its role: Insulin is secreted by the pancreas to allow your cells to take in glucose (blood sugar) for energy or storage. It prevents fat cells from being broken down.
When things go wrong: It contributes to chronically elevated insulin, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and increased hunger and cravings.
What to do about it: Reduce carbs to reduce chronic or excess insulin secretion. Reduce fructose, which is known to increase insulin levels and is linked to insulin resistance. Exercise to burn glycogen stores and increased insulin activity in skeletal muscles.
2. Leptin, the "Satiety" Hormone:
Its role: Produced by fat cells, this hormone notifies the hypothalamus (brain) that there is enough fat in storage and prevents overeating.
When things go wrong: You wind up with leptin resistance, which happens when impaired signaling doesn't trigger the brain to calm hunger hormones. Malfunction is linked to obesity, chronically elevated insulin, and inflammation.
What to do about it: Avoid inflammatory foods, like seed oils, and focus on omega-3 fatty acids. Make sure you're getting good sleep, as sleep deprivation is linked to drops in leptin levels. Exercise increases leptin sensitivity.
3. Ghrelin, the "Hunger" Hormone:
Its role: Ghrelin is released when the stomach is empty and stops when the stomach is stretched. Ghrelin is highest before eating and lowest an hour after eating.
When things go wrong: Studies in obese patients show circulating ghrelin doesn’t decrease, and for that reason the brain doesn’t receive the signal to stop eating.
What to do about it: Avoid white carbohydrates, sugar, and especially sugary drinks that increase hunger without stretching the stomach lining. Eat protein at every meal, especially breakfast, to promote satiety. Eat a lot of fiber, as it has the mass to physically stretch the stomach lining.
4. Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 (GLP-1), the "Full" Hormone:
Its role: GLP-1 is produced and released when food enters the intestines to tell our brain we are full.
When things go wrong: Chronic inflammation reduces GLP-1 production, which negatively affects satiety signaling (making you always feel hungry).
What to do about it: Avoid inflammatory food, take probiotics, eat meals high in protein, which increases GLP-1 production. Meals high in leafy green vegetables also increase GLP-1 levels. Eat a diet of Anti-inflammatory Fab 4 Foods (there's a full list in my book!).
5. Cholecystokinin (CCK), the "Satiety" Hormone:
Its role: CCK is produced by cells in the gastrointestinal tract and nervous system. CCK is released by the duodenum and stimulates gallbladder contraction and pancreatic and gastric acid secretion; it slows gastric emptying and suppresses energy intake.
When things go wrong: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can cause an overproduction of CCK, making you feel deprived of energy.
What to do about it: Initial studies suggest the direct interaction of CCK and dietary protein contributes to satiety response. Fat triggers release of CCK, and fiber can double CCK production.
6. Peptide YY (PYY), the "Control" Hormone:
Its role: PYY is the control hormone in the gastrointestinal tract that reduces appetite.
When things go wrong: Insulin resistance and chronically elevated blood sugar impairs production of PYY.
What to do about it: Balanced blood sugar increases PYY response and production. Protein-based meals increase PYY concentrations while fiber also increases PYY production.
7. Neuropeptide Y (NYP), the "Stimulate" Hormone:
Its role: NYP is a hormone produced in the brain and nervous system that "stimulates" appetite for carbohydrates.
When things go wrong: Stress induces the production of NYP that leads to appetite stimulation and overeating.
What to do about it: Fasting and food deprivation can stimulate this hormone. Eat complete meals regularly, and fast intermittently with caution. Lack of protein also increases the release of NPY.
8. Cortisol, the "Stress" Hormone:
Its role: Cortisol is the "stress" hormone produced by the adrenals when the body senses stress.
When things go wrong: Chronically elevated levels of cortisol can lead to overeating and weight gain. High levels of cortisol are linked to belly fat in women.
What to do about it: Manage stress levels through meditation, movement, and good sleep. Talk to loved ones and ask for help when needed. Eat three balanced meals daily of protein, fat, fiber, and greens.
Want Kelly's signature hunger-hormone-balancing breakfast recipe? We've got you covered. Also, here's a one-day meal plan to keep your blood sugar and hunger hormones balanced so you never feel hangry again.
Kelly LeVeque is a holistic nutritionist, wellness expert, and celebrity health coach based in Los Angeles, California. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California and completed her postgraduate clinical nutrition education through UCLA and UC Berkeley. Be Well By Kelly grew out of LeVeque's lifelong passion for health, the science of nutrition and overall wellness. Guided by a practical and always optimistic approach, she helps clients improve their health, achieve their goals and develop sustainable habits to live a healthy and balanced life. She parlayed her passion for health, wellness, and nutrition into her first book, Body Love (Harper Collins) published June 2017.
LeVeque is passionate about the science of human nutrition. Driven by the desire to help her clients, and her own intellectual curiosity, she studies the latest research, evaluates competing theories and reads everything. Most importantly, she uses that knowledge to make individualized recommendations for her clients. She also loves to cook. LeVeque believes in real food, real ingredients and a clean diet. The Be Well kitchen is constantly buzzing, and loves creating tasty, clean, nutrient-dense recipes and dishes.
Before starting her consulting business, LeVeque worked in the medical field for Fortune 500 companies like J&J, Stryker, and Hologic, eventually moving into personalized medicine, offering tumor gene mapping and molecular subtyping to oncologists. She is a regular contributor for numerous health, wellness and lifestyle publications. LeVeque rounded out her education with a number of other certifications including being certified as a Health Coach through The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, her RYT-200 training though the American Yoga School, and NSCA-Certified Personal Trainer® (NSCA-CPT)® certification through the National Strength and Conditioning Association.