What is Ghrelin?

Ghrelin is essentially a hormone produced mainly in the stomach, which tells the brain that it is hungry. It is often referred to as the "hunger hormone". When we are dieting or fasting, the levels of Ghrelin can rise and produce "hunger pangs". After meals, Ghrelin levels will decrease. A high level of Ghrelin can indicate one of the reasons for weight gain. 

What causes Ghrelin to rise?

Ghrelin levels typically rise right before a meal, when your stomach is empty. Then, they decrease shortly after, when your stomach is full. 

How to lower Ghrelin and reduce hunger. 

Ghrelin is not a hormone that can be directly controlled with a drug, diet, or supplement. However, there are a few things you can do to maintain healthy levels:

  • Maintain a moderate weight. Studies show that people with obesity tend to have higher levels of ghrelin
  • Prioritize sleep. Poor sleep increases your levels of ghrelin and has been linked to increased hunger and weight gain. 
  • Increase muscle mass. Higher amounts of fat-free mass or muscle are associated with lower levels of ghrelin. 
  • Eat more protein. A high protein diet increases fullness and reduces hunger. One of the mechanisms behind this is a reduction in ghrelin levels. 
  • Maintain a stable weight. According to one older study of postmenopausal women, drastic weight changes and yo-yo dieting can disrupt key hormones, including ghrelin.