Everyone knows the “secret” to losing weight, and keeping it off, is diet and exercise, right?
Well, while it’s TRUE what you eat and how much you move are essential factors. But there’s another piece of the weight-loss puzzle that nearly EVERYONE overlooks, and that’s hormones.
You see it’s hormones that are at the heart of how hungry you feel. And it’s hormones that control how much you end up eating.
When those hormones are out of balance, they can sabotage your weight loss efforts. And that’s true no matter HOW careful you are about what you eat or how much you exercise.
So let’s take a closer look at two key hormones that control your appetite. And I’ll also go over some simple steps you can take, starting today, to help RESET your hunger hormones. And when you do you can FINALLY shed those stubborn extra pounds.
You know that feeling you get when you eat a good meal? You feel nice and satisfied afterward.
Well, a hormone called leptin is behind that happy feeling.
Leptin signals the hypothalamus in your brain that you’re full. And this suppresses your appetite, so you don’t overeat.
Well, at least that’s how it’s supposed to work. But in folks who are overweight, the system sometimes breaks down.
Your body continues to produce leptin, but your brain doesn’t get the “I’m full” message. So you continue to eat even when you’ve had enough.1
Researchers aren’t entirely sure what causes leptin resistance yet. But experts believe that both chronic inflammation and elevated insulin levels are likely culprits.
- Eat more inflammation-fighting foods such as fatty fish, nuts, leafy greens, olive oil, and berries2
- Eat plenty of foods that are rich in leptin stimulating polyunsaturated fats such as walnuts, flaxseed, wild caught salmon, and tuna
- Reduce or eliminate inflammation producing foods such as added sugars (like high fructose corn syrup) and trans fats 3,4,5,6,7,8
- Boost leptin production by getting plenty of sleep and exercising regularly 9,10,11,12
- Eat more high fiber, belly-filling foods including steel cut oatmeal, which research has shown may help reverse leptin resistance 13
Ghrelin is basically a mirror hormone to leptin. Known as the “hunger hormone,” when your belly is empty ghrelin virtually instant messages your hypothalamus to say “I’m hungry, feed me.” 14,15
Your ghrelin levels typically spike before eating and fall lowest after a meal. But once again, when you’re overweight, the signals can get crossed.
When that happens your ghrelin levels DON’T drop like they should after eating, and your brain continues to get the message that you’re hungry. The result, of course, is overeating and eventually weight gain.
- Eat plenty of slow to digest protein-rich foods at every meal, which will help suppress ghrelin 16,17
- Slash added sugars (such as HFCS) from your diet, which can interfere with your ghrelin response after eating 18,19
- Eat more l-cysteine rich foods—such as yogurt, cheese, meat, wheat germ, and steel cut oats—which research shows can help suppress gherlin 20
- Increase the amount of high-fiber foods in your diet, which help fill up your belly, causing ghrelin levels to naturally drop 21
- Stress triggers ghrelin so put a stop to your stress eating using relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga or other forms of exercise 22
Stop letting your stalled hunger hormones sabotage your weight loss efforts. Reset them instead.
1. “Leptin signaling and obesity: cardiovascular consequences,” Circ Res. 2007 Sep 14;101(6):545-59
2. “Foods that fight inflammation,” Harvard Health Watch, Harvard Healh Publications, Harvard Medical School, health.harvard.edu, Accessed 2/21/2017
3. “Fructose induces the inflammatory molecule ICAM-1 in endothelial cells,” J Am Soc Nephrol. 2008 Sep;19(9):1712-20
4. “High fructose consumption combined with low dietary magnesium intake may increase the incidence of the metabolic syndrome by inducing inflammation,” Magnes Res. 2006 Dec;19(4):237-43
5. “Consumption of Honey, Sucrose, and High-Fructose Corn Syrup Produces Similar Metabolic Effects in Glucose-Tolerant and -Intolerant Individuals,” J Nutr. 2015 Oct;145(10):2265-72
6. “Acute effects of feeding fructose, glucose and sucrose on blood lipid levels and systemic inflammation,” Lipids Health Dis. 2014 Dec 16;13:195
7. “Trans fatty acids induce vascular inflammation and reduce vascular nitric oxide production in endothelial cells,” PLoS One. 2011;6(12):e29600
8. “Dietary intake of trans fatty acids and systemic inflammation in women,” Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Apr;79(4):606-12
9. “Synergy between leptin therapy and a seemingly negligible amount of voluntary wheel running prevents progression of dietary obesity in leptin-resistant rats,” Diabetes. 2008 Mar;57(3):614-22
10. “Effect of long-term changes in diet and exercise on plasma leptin concentrations,” Am J Clin Nutr. 2001 Feb;73(2):240-5
11. “Leptin levels are dependent on sleep duration: relationships with sympathovagal balance, carbohydrate regulation, cortisol, and thyrotropin,” J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2004 Nov;89(11):5762-71
12. “Brief communication: Sleep curtailment in healthy young men is associated with decreased leptin levels, elevated ghrelin levels, and increased hunger and appetite,” Ann Intern Med. 2004 Dec 7;141(11):846-50
13. “Clinical benefit of a short term dietary oatmeal intervention in patients with type 2 diabetes and severe insulin resistance: a pilot study,” Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes 2008; 116(2): 132-134
14.”Ghrelin: Integrative Neuroendocrine Peptide in Health and Disease,” Ann Surg. 2004 Apr; 239(4): 464–47
15. “The role of leptin and ghrelin in the regulation of food intake and body weight in humans: a review,” Obes Rev. 2007 Jan;8(1):21-34
16. “Effect of a high-protein breakfast on the postprandial ghrelin response,” Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Feb;83(2):211-20
17. “Ghrelin and glucagon-like peptide 1 concentrations, 24-h satiety, and energy and substrate metabolism during a high-protein diet and measured in a respiration chamber,” Am J Clin Nutr. 2006 Jan;83(1):89-94
18. “Ghrelin receptor regulates HFCS-induced adipose inflammation and insulin resistance,” Nutr Diabetes. 2013 Dec 23;3:e99
19. “Dietary fructose reduces circulating insulin and leptin, attenuates postprandial suppression of ghrelin, and increases triglycerides in women,” J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2004 Jun;89(6):2963-72
20. “l-cysteine suppresses ghrelin and reduces appetite in rodents and humans,” International Journal of Obesity (2015) 39, 447–455
21. “Fiber intake predicts ghrelin levels in overweight and obese postmenopausal women,” Eur J Endocrinol. 2009 Jul;161(1):65-72
22. “Ghrelin’s Roles in Stress, Mood, and Anxiety Regulation,” International Journal of Peptides, Volume 2010 (2010), Article ID 460549, 5 pages
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