Hormones That Control Metabolism, Hunger, and Satiety

By Natalie Ledbetter, CRNA DAcOM

Hormones are chemical messengers that tell our cells what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. There are around 50 different hormones in the human body (that we know of currently) and they are necessary for the proper functioning of the body.

There are specific hormones that control metabolism, hunger, and satiety (a sense of your hunger feeling satisfied and of fullness).

Hormones in control of metabolism, hunger, and satiety

There are 5 main hormones in control of our metabolism and our feelings of fullness and hunger. These work together to affect how much we weigh, how easy it is to lose weight, and how much energy we have available.

Calories in versus calories out is only part of the story with our weight. There are powerful hormones at play that can drive us to want to eat all the time, gain weight even when we are eating less and working out more and crave things that are not good for us.


You have a hormone called leptin that signals you to stop eating. Leptin binds with proteins in your blood to tell your brain how much you ate and whether it contained enough nutrients for you to stop eating for a while. If you eat enough of the proper nutrients and your body is sensitive to leptin, after a meal leptin causes your thyroid to release more thyroid hormone. This increases your metabolism and tells your body to burn more calories.

If you have leptin resistance or you are not getting enough nutrients your thyroid will decrease thyroid hormone levels. This helps you conserve energy but makes you tired and your body stores any calories you get as fat because it is preparing you for lack or famine.

I will teach you how to reset your leptin levels in an article coming soon.

Ghrelin- the hunger gremlin

Ghrelin is a hormone that tells your brain that you need to eat. It is released by the stomach and intestines. Eat a diet high in healthy fiber from vegetables and with plenty of protein. Limit carbohydrate intake. These two steps together will help keep your ghrelin levels steady to prevent you from feeling like you want to eat all the time.

Cholecystokinin (CCK)

CCK is released by the intestines after you eat to tell your body that you are full.

After loosing a lot of weight, your intestines decrease CCK secretion even when you eat a large amount food. This causes you to feel less full increasing your risk of cravings and binge eating. Going into ketosis for a few days resets CCK levels. I will discuss how to do this in a future article. Having a breakfast that is high in healthy fats (e.g. butter, coconut oil, avocado, or extra virgin cold-pressed olive oil) and low in carbohydrates helps minimize cravings if you don’t want to do a round of ketosis.


When you eat, the body converts any carbs into glucose (sugar). Insulin tells your cells to absorb this glucose. Without insulin, the cells remain “closed” and can’t absorb the sugar, so it stays in the blood. Any extra glucose that doesn’t go into the cells first gets stored in the muscle and liver as glycogen to be used later. When these storehouses get full, any glucose formed gets stored as fat. If your insulin production is low or your cells are not sensitive to insulin (insulin sensitivity) the glucose can’t enter the cells and gets turned into fat.

Thyroid Hormones

The thyroid gland produces thyroid hormones including T3 and T4. It produces more T4 which has to be converted in the tissues into T3 before it is active. These hormones regulate how fast you burn calories (your metabolism) and affects many other functions in your body. It affects your heart rate, energy levels, digestion, reproductive health and sex drive, and skin and hair, plus more.

Too little thyroid hormone can lead to fatigue, weight gain, thinning hair, feeling cold, dry skin, puffy face, and much more. Too much thyroid hormone can cause rapid heartbeat, anxiety, feeling hot, and hand tremors, among other symptoms.


These hormones work together to affect how much we weigh, how easy it is to lose weight, and how much energy we have available. When the levels are not optimal for any of these, it can be a challenge to maintain your ideal weight or to lose weight. You can have cravings and feel tempted to binge eat, among other symptoms.

Future articles will discuss things that we can do to bring these hormones into balance and optimal  levels.

Interested in more information about hormones? Click here. https://lalongevity.com/menopause/

Or here. https://lalongevity.com/the-signs-of-low-testosterone-in-women/

Click here for information about how sleep can affect your weight. https://drnatalieledbetter.com/f/melatonin-for-sleep-health-and-weight-loss

Scroll to Top