The hunger hormone ghrelin is what makes you gain weight and it’s stimulated by stress

Dr Terry Simpson weight loss surgeon

Good morning! Were you ever given a choice between two things – one was good and the other was better? Well, before I get a bit on the science side I have to refill my cup of Peet’s coffee – which, as you know, is my preferred brand – although I am always open to suggestions.

It turns out that when you get hungry there is a hormone called ghrelin that increases. Ok, you probably know that. It is the hunger hormone, and it starts to be sent out in pulses. The longer it has been since you have eaten the larger the waves. That is the hormone that drives you to eat, and for those who don’t think you have an appetite, well, the appetite is that “dark force” that drives you to put things in your grocery cart that don’t belong there.

The key to making good choices at the grocery store is by having ghrelin lower, so you make appropriate choices for the food that you bring home. One of those tricks- make a menu plan after having a good meal, make a grocery list, go to the grocery store. It keeps you on track and happy.

Part of the science of weight loss surgery is we modify that hormone a bit by our surgery on the gut.

There is another part of that hormone that people don’t often talk about – and that is it has an anti-depressive effect. You may have experienced this if you got past the first “pangs” and started to accept that hunger was a part of weight loss and decided to go with it. It is a very natural anti-depressive hormone, that when levels are elevated works better than the standards ones we doctors dispense.

Your body will elevate ghrelin in times of chronic “stress” – that is, if there is something that day in and day out bugs you, your body will elevate this in order for you to feel better – it is your body’s own source of Paxil (but better).

So, you have chronic stress – and you deal with it by eating – and you don’t feel better. Now you know the reason. Eating forces the levels down – and puts on some unwanted weight. What happens if you ignore that signal, and instead of eating, daily take a walk, accept that you will be hungry while you figure out the issue? You will feel better, and your body will adjust to the difference between the hunger aspect of the ghrelin and the anti-depressive effects.

So you have two choices: one is the immediate pleasure (sugar which hits the brain in a way similar to cocaine) – and the other is just feeling better overall.

Still eat enough to nourish yourself,but allow that feeling to go for a bit – and you will note that as the day goes on, even though you could eat more, you actually feel a bit better about yourself and life and the mood is stabilized.

Kinda cool.


We moved our clinic day from Thursday to Wednesday. So we won’t see patients on Thursday, but will on Wednesday starting March 1st.

  1. OK- for those who want to find me on google plus go to and if you are my patient let me know and we have our special group online that is private.

Did you make your goal this week? If not, look over the foods you ate and see what doesn’t fit in (get rid of sugar and artificial sweeteners to start).