Ghrelin And Leptin Hormones: All You Need To Know

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Amrita Sandhu

135 articles

Saturday, 03-Sep-2022

10 Min Read

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Ghrelin And Leptin Hormones: All You Need To Know

Hormones control many essential bodily functions and the body's metabolism, but did you know that our hunger is also triggered or influenced by hormones? Read on to learn more about two of these hormones. 

Leptin and ghrelin are two hormones known to impact energy balance significantly. Leptin mediates long-term regulation of energy balance, suppressing food intake and thereby inducing weight loss. Conversely, ghrelin is a fast-acting hormone that appears to play a role in meal initiation. As obesity continues to impact more people, you understand how various hormones and neurotransmitters affect energy balance.

Table Of Contents

1. What Are Ghrelin And Leptin Hormones?

2. Functions Of Ghrelin And Leptin

3. Difference Between Ghrelin And Leptin

4. Normal Levels Of Ghrelin And Leptin 

5. Consequences Of Increased Amounts Of Ghrelin

6. Leptin Resistance

7. Dietitian's Recommendations

8. The Final Say

9. FAQs 

What Are Ghrelin And Leptin Hormones?

Ghrelin increases appetite, is mainly released in the stomach, and sends a hunger signal to the brain. Therefore, it makes sense that the body would produce more ghrelin when someone is undereating and less when overeating. It has been found that ghrelin levels are elevated in children with anorexia nervosa and decreased in obese children. Furthermore, German researchers suggest that ghrelin affects how quickly hunger returns after eating. Usually, ghrelin levels rise dramatically before eating; that indicates hunger. They then set about three hours after eating. 

Leptin is the appetite suppressant that appears essential to our body's energy balance. Some researchers believe leptin helps regulate ghrelin. Leptin assists in informing the brain that the body has adequate energy reserves, such as body fat. Despite increasing leptin, numerous obese people do not respond to leptin signals. In general, your blood contains more leptin if you have more fat. But levels vary based on many factors, including when you last ate and your sleeping habits.

Functions Of Ghrelin And Leptin 

Although both hormones are released in the digestive system, they have different functions.

Functions Of Ghrelin 

Ghrelin has numerous vital functions, such as :

  • It Signals the part of your mind known as the hypothalamus to boom the urge for food.
  • It promotes fat storage.
  • It stimulates your pituitary gland to increase hormones.
  • It stimulates your digestive gadget to transport meals out of your belly through your small and big intestines.
  • It contributes to controlling insulin launch.
  • It plays a position in protecting your cardiovascular health.

Functions Of Leptin 

  • Leptin's essential function is to assist in adjusting the long-time period stability among your frame's meal consumption and power use(expenditure). Leptin facilitates inhibiting(preventing) starvation and adjusting power stability so that your frame does not cause a starvation reaction while it does not want power(calories).
  • Leptin mainly acts for your brainstem and hypothalamus to adjust starvation and power stability, even though you have leptin receptors in different regions of your frame.
  • Leptin does not affect your starvation ranges and meal consumption from meal to meal; however, as an alternative acts to regulate meal consumption and manipulate power expenditure over an extended period to assist your everyday weight.
  • Leptin has an extra profound impact while you lose weight. As your frame fats(adipose tissue) decrease, your leptin ranges decrease, which indicates your frame assumes that it is starving. This stimulates excessive starvation and urge for food and may cause accelerated meal consumption.

Difference Between Ghrelin And Leptin 

Ghrelin and leptin control appetite. They are involved in the vast network of metabolic pathways that regulate body weight. Leptin decreases appetite, while ghrelin increases it. Your stomach produces ghrelin, which signals your brain if you are hungry. Leptin is produced by your fat cells. Leptin alerts your brain when you feel full, and leptin controls long-term weight control.

Normal Levels Of Ghrelin And Leptin

Blood tests can easily assess ghrelin and leptin levels. The normal range for the same are :

  • Ghrelin Normal blood serum levels - 520-700 pg/mL
  • Adults assigned female at birth: 0.5 - 15.2 ng/mL.
  • Adults assigned male at birth: 0.5 - 12.5 ng/mL.

Consequences Of Increased Amounts Of Ghrelin 

In anorexic eating disorders, ghrelin levels are chronically elevated, possibly due to the body's negative energy state. They are designed to stimulate appetite to increase body fat percentage. People can have elevated ghrelin levels when restricting their caloric intake, such as following a restrictive diet. High ghrelin can also be linked to many biological and genetic conditions such as: 

  • Anorexia nervosa 
  • Cachexia is a condition that causes the muscles to atrophy 
  • Celiac disease 
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) 
  • Prader-Willi Syndrome

Leptin Resistance 

When you have leptin resistance, your brain does not respond to leptin as it usually would. Because it is constantly being stimulated by leptin, you do not feel full. Even though your body has adequate fat reserves, you eat more. The apparent lack of leptin in leptin resistance also puts your body into starvation mode. Your brain lowers your energy levels, causing you to burn fewer calories while resting and conserving energy. Therefore, leptin resistance further contributes to obesity and causes additional weight gain in the form of fat storage due to the stimulation of hunger and decreased metabolism.  

The main symptoms of leptin resistance are constant hunger and increased food intake despite having adequate or excessive amounts of body fat. 

However, several other factors and conditions may contribute to these symptoms, not just leptin resistance. For example, without leptin, your body thinks you have no body fat, indicating intense and uncontrollable hunger and food intake. For this reason, congenital leptin deficiency in children leads to class III obesity and delay in puberty.

Dietitian's Recommendation

Ghrelin and leptin are two of those hormones which are extremely important for digestion and satiety. Therefore, you should have your leptin and ghrelin levels evaluated if you have obesity. If any discrepancy is discovered, you should see your doctor right away.

-Dietician Lavina Chauhan

The Final Say

To summarise, Ghrelin is a hormone produced in one's stomach. When your stomach is empty, ghrelin is released to tell the brain that it is time to eat. Although ghrelin is commonly known as the "hunger hormone," it has many functions. Leptin was recently discovered, so researchers are still trying to figure out how it influences obesity and weight loss. Weight reduction may be more challenging due to leptin's role in setting off your body's hunger state while body fat levels are dropping. If you're concerned about your body weight or want guidance on healthy weight loss, talk to your doctor or consider seeing an endocrinologist.


1. What releases ghrelin and leptin?

Leptin is secreted by adipose tissue, and the stomach secretes ghrelin.

2. How does insulin affect ghrelin and leptin?

Leptin, an adipocyte-derived hormone, decreases the hunger and food intake while the stomach peptide ghrelin increases both. In the central nervous system, insulin lessens the sense of hunger, but it can also have an indirect effect by altering the secretion of ghrelin and leptin.

3. How are ghrelin and leptin related to sleep?

Ghrelin levels rise primarily in response to acute sleep deprivation, while leptin levels fall with chronic sleeplessness. One night with poor sleep causes sharp rises in ghrelin levels, but leptin concentrations generally remain the same.

4. Where are ghrelin and leptin produced?

These are produced in the stomach and the hypothalamic subparaventricular zone, which has an appetite-stimulant action.    

5. Are ghrelin and leptin related to obesity?

Leptin signals the nervous system whether or not the body has enough energy reserves, such as body fat. Unfortunately, many people suffering from obesity do not respond to signals sent via leptin properly, even though they have higher leptin levels. In short, the more fat concentration you have in your body, the more leptin is in your blood.  

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