The Hunger Hormones

Beat your hunger hormones (ghrelin, leptin and CKK) with these secrets to prevent overeating!

personal trainer Edmonton


Lately, I’ve heard a lot lately how it’s not your fault that you’re fat but that hunger hormones (leptin, ghrelin and CKK) are getting the best of you. Now, I don’t want to enable addictions but if you’re going to blame somebody else – blame the food industry.  Here’s why:


Leptin, ghrelin and CKK (cholecystokinin) are 3 of the hormones which need to be manipulated in order to control weight. Ghrelin is the hunger hormone and was first discovered in 1996 and reported in 1999. Ghrelin increases exponentially until you eat, with the highest increase just before eating. It is primarily created in the stomach and stops releasing after the stomach gets stretched. For this reason, eating is the best way to bring down ghrelin levels. Proteins are the most effective macronutrients for reducing their secretion.

ghrelin, leptin, CKK

The easiest way to manipulate ghrelin for weight loss is by having a glass of water before each meal. The good news is, ghrelin is also the thirst hormone.  You may have heard that if you feel hungry, you might just be thirsty. This is due to the effects of ghrelin in your body. That’s a little behind the scenes info on why water might help bring down your food cravings. 

Now, if you’re going to drink a glass of water before a meal (which, I have to add, has shown to significantly decrease the amount eaten during a meal ), then you’re on the right track to curb those hunger hormones. However, why stop at that when there is much more you can do? Like eating some fibre too. 


fibre hunger hormones

Fibre is such an important and profound pre-meal weight loss macronutrient. Moreover, it has so many other benefits, such as aiding peristalsis movement and cleansing the colon, to name but a few. However, you need to eat it with at least one glass of water, as you certainly don’t want to find out what happens if you don’t. From my experiences, it’s painful and, above all, discomforting. 

Ok, I guess I should tell you: Fibre absorbs water and takes up space,  thus stretching your stomach. Ultimately, this slows down ghrelin production. If you don’t increase your water intake with fibre intake, you will inevitably get constipated.

The benefits of fibre are too vast to explain here, but here’s a quick list: it absorbs calories, improves motility, increases good gut flora, makes you feel full, is anti-inflammatory, reduces chances of contracting diseases (especially those of the digestive tract) and helps cure what ails you. In short, this whole list contributes to health and weight loss. 

Overall, there’s nothing bad to say about fibre except we don’t get enough in our diet. If you follow paleo, I have to mention cavemen in the paleolithic era had about 10 times the fibre most people get these days. Take the fibre! Dr. Mark Hyman recommends Glucomannan fibre from Konjac root a.k.a. PGX fibre. For more weight loss tips see my article on how to cheat a cheat day.


While Ghrelin is the least complicated out of the hunger hormones, Leptin is more difficult to conquer. Leptin was reported in 1994 and was the first discovered fat cell releasing hormone. Plus, the word leptin comes from the Greek word leptos, meaning thin.

Leptin is primarily created in fat cells and its main function is to tell the body not to eat more, due to sufficient fat storage.  This means more fat cells equal more circulating leptin accordingly. Here, is where the food industry becomes the enemy…

Leptin Resistance

In the same way you can become insulin resistant (as seen in type 2 diabetes), you can also become leptin resistant. Incidentally, the two problems are often seen together due to a lot of the same causes. Leptin resistance is found in obese people. They exhibit high leptin levels but their bodily receptors aren’t functioning properly for signalling the body to stop eating. Unfortunately, this lets hunger hormones rampage unchecked, eventually wreaking havoc on both their diet and health. 


The causes of leptin resistance and type 2 diabetes lies in a diet of highly palatable, high calorie foods. Fructose should be especially mentioned here, but more importantly, without the fibre from fruit. Fructose is an extremely sweet tasting sugar and that’s why the food industry uses it to increase the addictive properties of food. It gets modified along with other extra high glycemic sugars which are seen in most packaged foods. For example, these sugars include high fructose corn syrup, maltose, and maltodextrin.

How it Affects Health and Fitness

Sadly, other things that cause leptin resistance are the things that cause many epidemic diseases of today. I covered them in detail in my article on Leaky Gut Syndrome. However, another quick list is sugar and sweeteners, gluten, dairy, grains, prescription and nonprescription drugs, lectin, GMO foods, chlorine and fluoride, yeast, preservatives and flavorings, processed foods, mercury, pesticides, BPA from plastics, and infections. Now, I know that’s a big list but it should be obvious why obesity and diabetes is an epidemic in North America. Needless to say, the food industry is my enemy in my fight to contribute to a healthy, happy, and fit society.

The way to beat leptin resistance/diabetes/Leaky Gut Syndrome/depression and everything that ails you, is to cut back on the above mentioned causes as much as you can. In addition, adopt a balanced diet and consume vegetables, healthy fats, and meats/seafood along with proper exercise. I recommend the “10 Day Detox Diet Cookbook” by Dr. Mark Hyman.

Cholecystokinin (CKK)

Lastly, cholecystokinin or CCK is another hormone that makes you feel full, countering hunger hormones. CKK is released in the gut and brain when fats and certain amino acids from protein are present. CCK slows gastric emptying or stomach emptying into the intestine. It also stimulates the release of pancreatic enzymes into the duodenum, which is the first part of the intestine after the stomach. CCK also releases bile from the gallbladder and stimulates bile salts from the liver into the duodenum.

Though CCK hormone makes a person feel full ,overweight people do not produce much CCK. Consequently, most weight loss diets fail because a 400 pound person, for instance, turns into a 200 pound person. But they’ll still have the appetite of a 400 pound person. My favourite weight loss diet increases a person’s CCK as they lose weight so a 200 pound person will have the appetite of a 200 pound person.


Hunger Hormones and Health and Fitness

For more on how to implement a healthy diet and exercise routine contact me. It is important to note that when you start losing weight your body will start producing less leptin and more ghrelin, but it will level off and you will become more responsive to insulin and leptin.

Another factor in initial weight loss is a decrease in thyroid hormone, sympathetic tone, and energy expending along with increases in parasympathetic tone. This means your metabolism will slow down and you’ll have a decrease in energy.  This isn’t permanent. 

However, care needs to be taken to increase thyroid hormone and reduce cortisol. There are methods to that madness and you can read my article on thyroid hormone and the best way to control cortisol is to implement stress management techniques. Don’t hesitate to contact me for more information on any of this. I will be happy to help you out.

I wish you lots of health, love and happiness!

Travis Wade

The only holistic personal trainer in Edmonton.

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