Hunger and Satiety Hormones High After Diet- and Exercise-Induced Weight Loss

by Natalie Digate Muth, MD, MPH, RDN, FAAP on May 15, 2018


Researchers are just beginning to understand why weight loss maintenance is so difficult. We know that at least part of the answer lies in metabolic changes that often accompany weight loss. For example, studies show that after diet-induced weight loss, the hunger hormone ghrelin increases, while satiety decreases amid declining levels of hormones such as peptide YY and glucagon-like peptide-1. After exercise-induced weight loss, hunger hormones also rise, but some studies suggest that satiety climbs as well.

A January study in the American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism examined hormonal changes in response to weight loss induced through diet and exercise in a population of 35 adults with severe obesity. Researchers measured weight, cardiovascular fitness (VO2max), appetite feelings, and blood levels of the hormones insulin, ghrelin, glucagon-like peptide 1, peptide YY and cholecystokinin at baseline, 4 weeks, 1 year and 2 years.

The intervention included a 500-calorie-per-day dietary restriction with a healthy eating pattern high in fruits and vegetables; 50% of energy came from carbohydrates, 30% from fat and 20% from protein. Participants engaged in intensive activity during several 3-week stays at the research facility and were encouraged to engage in regular physical activity with an aim of at least 60 minutes of activity on most days and at least 2–3 resistance sessions per week when at home.

The researchers found that most participants could sustain weight loss until the 2-year mark, although hunger feelings and ghrelin levels stayed high after weight loss. Postmeal levels of satiety hormones were high as well, suggesting that people with severe obesity who lose weight with a diet-and-exercise intervention have to deal with increased hunger over the long term, even though they feel more full after eating.

Want more from Natalie Digate Muth?

IDEA Food and Nutrition Tips, Volume 7, Issue 3

Find the Perfect Job

More jobs, more applicants and more visits than any other fitness industry job board.

© 2018 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author

Natalie Digate Muth, MD, MPH, RDN, FAAP

Natalie Digate Muth, MD, MPH, RDN, FAAP IDEA Author/Presenter

Natalie Digate Muth, MD, MPH, RD is a board-certified pediatrician, registered dietitian, and ACE Health Coach. She is committed to providing evidence-based nutrition and fitness information to health professionals and consumers alike in a way that is logical, practical and directly applicable to readers’ lives. She has authored over 100 publications and book chapters, all which are based on the latest scientific evidence and presented in a manner that is easy-to-understand and apply. She is Director of Healthcare Solutions for the American Council on Exercise (ACE) having written the nutrition chapters for each of ACE’s textbooks, the ACE Fitness Nutrition Manual and Specialty Certification, and recorded several Webinars and online courses. Furthermore, as a spokesperson for ACE, the largest fitness certifying and advocacy organization in the country, she informs broadcast and print media outlets throughout the U.S. on pertinent nutrition and fitness issues. She is author '"Eat Your Vegetables!" and other mistakes parents make: Redefining How to Raise Healthy Eaters'. She presented a similar topic at IDEA World 2009; the video is available for purchase through IDEA. Certifications: ACE, ACSM and NSCA