The relationship between the leptin/ghrelin ratio and meals with various macronutrient contents in men with different nutritional status: a randomized crossover study

Nutr J. 2018 Dec 28;17(1):118. doi: 10.1186/s12937-018-0427-x.


Background: Hormones, which influence satiety and hunger, play a significant role in body energy balance regulation. Ghrelin is a peptide that plays an important role in short-term appetite regulation, whereas leptin is a factor that controls long-term energy balance and is considered as a satiety hormone. The aim of this study was to evaluate the leptin/ghrelin ratio in a fasting state and after the intake of meals with varying macronutrient contents and to assess the possible differences between normal body weight and overweight/obese men.

Methods: We examined 46 healthy adult men (23 with normal body weight and 23 overweight/obese) aged 21-58, who were divided into two groups. In the crossover study, participants received isocaloric (450 kcal) meals with different macronutrient contents: men from the first group received high-carbohydrate (HC) and normo-carbohydrate (NC) meals, and in the second group, participants received high-carbohydrate and high-fat (HF) meals. The ratio of leptin/ghrelin levels was calculated from leptin and total ghrelin serum concentrations in a fasting state and 30, 60, 120, 180 and 240 min after meal intake. One-way ANOVA and Wilcoxon signed-rank tests were carried out. The normality of the variable distribution was checked with the Shapiro-Wilk test, the homogeneity of variances was verified with the Levene test, and the false discovery rate p-value adjustment method was used.

Results: The leptin/ghrelin ratio was significantly higher in overweight/obese men than individuals with normal body weight in a fasting state, as well as postprandially. We observed trends towards a higher leptin/ghrelin ratio values from the 60 min after HC-meal intake compared to the NC- and HF-meals in normal body weight participants, while in overweight/obese men, we did not note any significant differences dependent on the meal type.

Conclusions: We have observed a significantly different postprandial leptin/ghrelin ratio in normal body weight and overweight/obese men, and our results suggest that in men with normal body weight, a greater feeling of satiety may occur after high-carbohydrate meal intake, which was not noted in the overweight/obese individuals.

Keywords: High-carbohydrate meal; High-fat meal; Leptin/ghrelin ratio; Normal body weight men; Normo-carbohydrate meal; Overweight/obesity; Postprandial state.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Fasting
  • Ghrelin / blood*
  • Humans
  • Ideal Body Weight
  • Leptin / blood*
  • Male
  • Meals
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrients / administration & dosage*
  • Nutrition Surveys / methods
  • Nutrition Surveys / statistics & numerical data*
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Obesity / blood
  • Overweight / blood
  • Postprandial Period*
  • Young Adult


  • Ghrelin
  • Leptin