What is the Hormone Ghrelin and How is It Affecting Your Weight?


Procedures done by Houston gastric sleeve surgeons don’t just make your stomach smaller, they reduce the production of the hormone ghrelin, also known as the hunger hormone. This hormone reduction helps you control your eating after your procedure, making it more likely that you will reach your weight loss goal.

What is Ghrelin?

Ghrelin is a hormone that is produced mainly in the stomach and small intestine, though some is also released in the brain and the pancreas. It has many functions, but one of its main jobs is to stimulate the appetite. When people don’t eat, the amount of ghrelin in the body increases, stimulating hunger. Even just a low-calorie diet can stimulate the body to produce more ghrelin, making it hard to keep weight off after the diet ends.

How Does Ghrelin Work?

You may think it’s your stomach telling you that you are hungry, but it’s really your brain. Once your stomach or small intestines produces ghrelin, it travels through your blood to the hypothalamus in the brain. The brain then tells you that your body is hungry. If your stomach is empty, the level of ghrelin produced and sent to the brain increases because your body knows it needs food in order to survive.

It sounds like it would be a great way to lose weight if your body would just stop producing ghrelin, but the hormone has other jobs that help keep you healthy. Ghrelin helps the pituitary gland function properly, and there is evidence that it helps protect your heart and aids in controlling the release of insulin.

Reducing, rather than eliminating this key hunger hormone is one of the ways to lose weight and keep it off over the long term. If there is less ghrelin passed along to your brain, you will not get the same hunger response as you would with higher levels.

Ghrelin and Gastric Sleeve Surgery

During your procedure, your Houston gastric sleeve surgeons reduce the size of your stomach by an average of 75%. This limits the amount of food you can take in. Your smaller stomach also means less production of the hunger hormone ghrelin. With less of this hormone, your brain will not send you the signals that you are hungry as often.

The point of gastric sleeve surgery is not to lose all of your weight at once, but rather to lose weight each week until you hit your goal. Not feeling hungry between meals because your body is producing less ghrelin is a great step toward meeting that goal.