Control These Two Hormones to Control Your Weight
In many ways, appetite is the key to successful weight loss.
When your appetite is working as it should, you eat only when you’re hungry, you eat only what your body needs, and you stop eating when your body has had enough.
Unfortunately, for many people the hormones that control appetite are dysregulated. The result is frequent hunger and eating (even when the body doesn’t need fuel), and ultimately weight gain.
To a degree, successful weight management relies on a basic understanding of the hormones that regulate hunger: ghrelin and leptin.
Ghrelin: the Hunger Hormone
Think of your stomach like the gas tank in your car. When the tank is empty, a light on the dashboard tells you your car is low on fuel.
Ghrelin is kind of like that empty tank warning…but for your stomach.
When your stomach is empty, it sends that “empty tank” warning by releasing the hormone ghrelin into the bloodstream. In the hypothalamus, ghrelin triggers receptors that make you feel hungry (like the sensor in your gas tank making the light on your dashboard come on). Your stomach will continue to release ghrelin until you start to eat.
Leptin: When the Tank is Full
Once you’ve eaten enough…when your “tank” is full…fat cells in your body release the hormone leptin. Higher levels of leptin signal your hypothalamus to stop sending the “I’m hungry” alert.
Unfortunately, there’s evidence suggesting that chronically high leptin levels can cause a condition called “leptin resistance”. When this happens, the body loses its sensitivity to leptin which can cause over-eating and weight gain.
How to Keep Ghrelin and Leptin in Balance
There are several lifestyle changes you can employ to keep your appetite hormones in proper balance, such as:
- Eat the right foods.
Certain foods…like protein, complex carbohydrates, and “good” fats (like vegetable, nut, and omega-3 fish fats) take longer to digest. Slower digestion delays the release of ghrelin, which means it will take longer to feel hungry again. Protein also increases leptin sensitivity. As a result, protein-dense foods will make you feel full for longer in between meals.
Avoid food additives like high-fructose corn syrup, antibiotics, and MSG. Evidence suggests these additives can throw hunger hormones out of balance.
- Get plenty of exercise.
Regular exercise is known to improve hormone balance overall. Some research suggests that more intense levels of exercise can improve leptin and ghrelin balance specifically.
There’s a reason we call it “stress eating”. Apart from other negative consequences for your health, stress has been linked to over-eating, as well as unhealthy food choices. In particular, studies have linked physiological and psychological stress to increased ghrelin levels (which may be a coping mechanism to reduce anxiety).
Exercise, meditation, and other mindfulness techniques can help you reduce the stress in your life, and give you better control over your appetite.
- Don’t skimp on sleep.
Lack of sleep has been correlated with obesity for quite some time now.
It turns out that people who get less than 7 hours of sleep per night tend to have higher ghrelin levels, as well as reduced leptin levels. Not only do these individuals feel hungrier more often…their bodies also don’t appropriately receive the “I’m full” signal to stop eating.
- Keep all of your hormones balanced.
Proper hormone balance helps your body to cope with stress, improves your sleep quality, and gives you more energy to follow a daily exercise program. In turn, these benefits will help to keep your ghrelin and leptin levels in balance.
Our focus at Renew Youth is to help you discover a healthier, happier you through balanced hormones. Improved appetite management can be just one of the many benefits.
Want to learn more? Call us at 800-859-7511 or use our contact form to set up your free consultation.