VIDEO NOTES: (No More) Hangry Mama: Hunger Hormones + How to Tune In

Today we are digging into HUNGER. Why it’s important to honor our hunger, how do to do it- and the magic four hunger hormones we can learn to balance for a more calm day. Because ultimately, don't we all want to come to meals calm and balanced, and feel less #hangry overall? Check out the video to find out how.

Watch this month's video lesson: (see all videos in the video lesson section)


My question at the beginning of the video: How often do you honor your hunger?

What it does when you DO honor your hunger:

  • Gives your body FUEL (Your body is on empty!)

  • Normal, natural biological cue.

  • Creates more TRUST

  • Easier to respond to fullness when we respond to hunger

Learn the subtle signs of hunger

Stomach growling is not the only sign of physical hunger. Yo-yo-dieting and the diet mindset can trick us into thinking we're not hungry when we are (or we are, when we're not!). Here are some subtle cues your body is needing fuel:

  • Difficulty making decisions

  • Feeling irritable or annoyed

  • Difficulty concentrating, lack of focus

  • Feeling restless or uncomfortable

  • Thinking about or fantasizing about food

  • Sweating

  • Headaches

  • Dizziness/Lightheadedness

  • Nausea

Note that many of these by themselves do not indicate hunger. But if it's been a while since you've eaten, hunger might be the culprit.

Download the hunger and fullness scale

The Lowdown on Hunger Hormones

What we eat affects how your hormones respond-- but no one tells us this!

The Magic 4 Hunger Hormones:

Hunger Hero (reduces hunger): Leptin

What it does:

  • Appetite supressor

  • “Satiety Hormone”

  • Notifies brain there is enough fat in storage and to stop eating

  • Produced by fat cells

Leptin resistance: Even if we have more fat doesn't mean our body responds to the extra leptin in the fat cells. Like insulin resistance, we can develop Leptin Resistance


  • Inflammation

  • Elevated Free Fatty Acids (linked to insulin resistance-- more from sugar than from fat, as we once thought)

  • Stress

  • A lot is genetic-- but there is a lot we can do

How to manage:

  • Balance your blood sugar: space meals

  • Reduce inflammation -- increase omega 3’s

  • SLEEP: sleep deprivation linked to lower leptin levels

  • Exercise increases leptin sensitivity

Hunger Villain: (increases hunger-- doesn't mean it's bad, just that it doesn't help us if it's not managed!) Grehlin

What it does:

  • Works together with leptin-- indicate your body has enough energy stores

  • Increases appetite (think- Growlin’)

  • Produced in stomach lining- about every 4 hours (when the stomach is empty)

  • When we rapidly lose weight = Ghrelin goes up

How to manage:

  • Sleep: shown to increase ghrelin

  • Protein: increases ghrelin

  • Fiber: stretches stomach lining (i.e. veggies)

Hunger Hero: Insulin

What it does:

  • Insulin is produced in the pancreas and allows cells to take sugar or glucose from the blood stream to use as energy (‘key’)

  • Storage hormone: Stores in liver, muscles or fat

  • Problem: too high insulin all the time, resistance-- need more and more. Insulin resistant hunger = rather than being physically hungry, you might experience it as a “gnawing” desire to eat.

The more refined carbohydrates you consume, the more your energy levels fluctuate between high and low throughout the day. Consequently, you never truly feel like you are running on real energy.

Chronically elevated insulin levels (termed hyperinsulinemia) can lead to many health problems, including obesity and metabolic syndrome.

How to Manage insulin so it works FOR you:

  • Protein

  • Fiber

  • Healthy fat: Omega-3’s + Magnesium (leafy greens and cacao)

  • Exercise

Hunger Hero: CCK (Cholesystekinin)

What it does:

  • Produced in gut + brain

  • Fullness hormone : slows gastric emptying

  • Signals bile production when stomach is full

  • Supresses energy intake

How to manage it:

  • Stop skipping fat! Fat triggers release of CCK- helping you feel full

  • Protein directly influences CCK to increase satiety

  • Fiber can double CCK production

  • Boost gut health :: poor gut health or food sensitivities may cause overproduction of CCK.

Bonus: Hunger Villain: NPY

I also (briefly) mentioned Neuropeptide Y. Neuropeptide Y is secreted when our body is in 'starvation mode' and has gone too long without food and/or carbohydrates. It is one of the causes of carb cravings-- your body needs energy! It is ALSO secreted in higher amounts when our body is TIRED (because carbs are QUICK fuel!).

REMEMBER: Hormones work together. You don’t have to memorize them!


1. Stop dieting + eat enough → increases ghrelin

2. Pump up the protein (every meal) → manages ghrelin + leptin levels

3. Avoid ‘naked carbs’ → balances blood sugar for a lower insulin response

4. Stop skipping fat → Signals CCK

5. Focus on fiber → increases ghrelin + reduces insulin

6. Manage stress + sleep → lowers leptin, increases ghrelin + also increases NPY- brain chemical that increases our desire for carbs when we are low, fasting or tired.

Foods to focus on:

1. Protein (animal or plant)

2. Fiber (veggies, nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains)

4. Leafy greens (magnesium and inc. GLP-1 insulin signaler + anti-inflammatory)

5. Omega-3 fatty acids (fatty fish, chia seeds, flax seeds, walnuts, hemp oil)

6. Pre and probiotics- support gut health (Proper CCK signaling)

BONUS! Modifying meals for hunger:

© 2019 by Kristin Dovbniak for The Supermama Society

Disclaimer: The information contained on this website is for information and encouragement only and is not to be construed as a replacement for medical advice or treatment.