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Ghrelin and Leptin: Regulating Hunger and Fullness

Living with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) can make managing weight tricky.

Understanding ghrelin and leptin—two hormones that control hunger and fullness—can help you stay on track with your health.

What are Ghrelin and Leptin?

  • Ghrelin: This is the "hunger hormone." It tells your brain when you're hungry and need to eat. Ghrelin levels go up before meals and down after you eat.

  • Leptin: Known as the "fullness hormone," leptin tells your brain when you're full. It's produced by fat cells and helps keep your hunger in check.

How Do They Affect PCOS?

For women with PCOS, these hormones can get out of balance, making it hard to manage hunger and weight.

  1. High Ghrelin Levels: Some women with PCOS have higher ghrelin levels, which makes them feel hungrier more often.

  2. Leptin Resistance: Many women with PCOS have leptin resistance. This means even though they have enough leptin, their brains don't get the message that they're full, leading to constant hunger.

Tips to Manage Hunger and Fullness

Here are some simple tips to help manage these hormones:

  • Eat Balanced Meals: Include lean proteins, healthy fats, and lots of fruits and vegetables in your diet. This helps keep your hunger hormones in check.

  • Regular Meal Times: Eating smaller, frequent meals can help keep ghrelin levels stable and prevent overeating.

  • Get Enough Sleep: Poor sleep can mess with ghrelin and leptin levels. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night.

  • Reduce Stress: Stress can increase ghrelin levels. Try activities like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing to relax.

  • Stay Active: Regular exercise can improve leptin sensitivity and help regulate hunger. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week.


By understanding ghrelin and leptin, you can better manage your hunger and fullness, making it easier to control your weight.

Eating balanced meals, keeping regular meal times, getting enough sleep, reducing stress, and staying active are all great ways to keep these hormones in balance.

Remember, everyone's experience with PCOS is different, so it might be helpful to talk to a healthcare provider or dietitian to find what works best for you.

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