One of the reasons people become very overweight is that they always feel hungry, morning, noon and night. For many people, this feeling isn’t “all in their heads.” But what is this ‘hunger pang’ that strikes some people all too often? It’s called ghrelin, the hunger hormone.
In contrast to traditional non-surgical diet and exercise methods, when you have bariatric surgery, your body’s metabolism is affected, including your ghrelin levels.
How Bariatric Surgery Impacts Ghrelin Levels
Metabolic and bariatric surgeries, like gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy (gastric sleeve), can decrease ghrelin levels because the structure of the stomach is permanently changed. Having lower ghrelin levels makes people feel less hungry — an ideal scenario when you are trying to lose a large volume of weight.
Let’s see the effect ghrelin has on gastric sleeve weight loss surgery:
Gastric Sleeve Surgery – The Ghrelin Buster
This bariatric procedure entails removing the section of the stomach producing the majority of ghrelin, reducing the amount of the hormone. That means you are eating less not only because your stomach capacity is reduced, but because ghrelin is not sending strong hunger signals and satiety is reached more easily when you do eat.
To be clear, not everyone has the same percentage of their stomach removed during sleeve surgery; therefore, ghrelin levels can vary post-op depending on how much of your stomach remains. It’s possible for cells producing ghrelin to grow back, but that doesn’t usually occur until at least two years after surgery. Be prepared for rising ghrelin levels as you continue your weight loss journey.
In addition, talk with your bariatric surgeon about your sleeve gastrectomy procedure beforehand to understand the doctor’s plan for your anatomy.
Why Bad Sleep (or Lack of Sleep) Can Awaken Your Ghrelin
One way to jeopardize your daily nutrition plan is not to get enough sleep. We’ve all been there — you are exhausted but you keep craving all the wrong things — sugar, carbs, junk food — looking for that jolt to get you through the day. Ultimately, it doesn’t give you more energy or revive you.
That little “you’re so tired — have a donut — and you’ll be revived…” message is coming from an increased level of ghrelin which can spike when you are tired.
For many reasons, in additional to ghrelin and weight management, sleep is the best medicine you can take. Make sure to get seven to nine hours of sleep each night. It’s worth the effort.
>>Sleep and Weight Loss — What’s the Connection?
Knowledge is Power When You Battle Obesity
If your ghrelin levels don’t decrease significantly after gastric bypass surgery, or even start to increase after gastric sleeve surgery, it’s not a reason for panic. Other hormones — as well as your mental attitude, smaller stomach and exercise regimen — come into play during weight loss.
But understanding the good and bad about the hormone ghrelin can empower you to identify when it isn’t curbing your appetite and recognize that you just had lunch an hour ago — you really aren’t hungry.
Learn More about a Bariatric Weight Loss Solution
Dr. Seun hosts a monthly free weight loss seminar in Central Jersey for people interested in finding out more about the different weight loss surgery options. You are welcome to bring along supportive friends and family members.
If you are tired of the weight battle and are significantly overweight, call Prime Surgicare at 732-982-2002 to set up a one-on-one consultation with our medical director, Dr. Seun Sowemimo.
About Dr. Seun Sowemimo, MD, FACS
Dr. Seun is a top NJ bariatric surgeon and the medical director at Prime Surgicare, with offices in Freehold serving Monmouth and Ocean counties. He is board-certified, Columbia and Yale University fellowship-trained in advanced laparoscopic, bariatric and general surgery.
To learn more, visit his YouTube channel or call Prime Surgicare at (732)-982-2002.