Many many hormones affect your body’s ability to absorb, use & store all the nutritents and energy you take from your food, but one major player is the hormone Ghrelin. Ghrelin plays a huge role in hunger control.
Ghrelin is the hormone which increases your apetite, it makes you feel hungry. Leptin on the other hand is the hormone which decreases your apetite, it is an apetite surpressor. Studies have shown that If you are carrying more body weight (BMI 30+) your Leptin levels are higher than those who are thin. Hang on here… surely it should be the other way round then? You would think that carrying more weight would indicate your Leptin leves are lower because you know you sometimes cant control your hunger, so its not doing its job properly? WRONG!
Those carrying more bodyweight unfortunately build up a resistance to Leptin and therefore this inpairs their bodies ability to know when they are truely hungry or full, however there are two simple things you can do to combat and control it.
Ghrelin is released from the lining of the stomach to stimulate appetite and hunger. Ghelin responds and adapts to the times of day you would normally eat, for example if your everyday routine means you eat at 8am, 1pm and 5pm (which by the way is too longer time to wait between meals because by this time your blood sugar levels have fallen and by the next time you eat a carb based meal its going to cause fat storage) you will find your Ghrelin levels will be high at those times.
Once you start to eat, the levels of Ghrenlin will start to decrease, telling your brain you are no longer hungry. Ghrelin levels have been found to be lower in over weight individuals and also take longer to lower after eating, meaning you guys feel hungrier for longer! Disfunctional Ghrenlin levels could therefore lead to over eating at meal times, which may be why some people struggle with portion control.
However weight loss will also cause Ghrelin levels to increase, making it harder to maintain weight loss in the long term. So when it comes to Ghrelin… you guys are on to a bit of a stinker, theres not much you can do to control it! It is your bodies natural defence mechanism to avoid starvation and you cant avoid it, no matter how much weight you are carrying, however Leptin is a different story.
Leptin levels will increase during eating, telling your brain that you are full. Your Leptin levels will increase while you are eating and naturally should stop you from over consuming. This is often not as effective in over weight indiviudals and combined maybe with past social experiences such as ‘you don’t get pudding unless you eat everything on your plate’ can prove a disarster for those who struggle to lose weight.
However the affects of low Leptin can be combatted by taking your time when eating food and eating ‘little and often’(smaller portions) to keep your stomach satisfied and leptin levels high throughout the day to avoid fat storage. Eating little and often will also increase your metabolism meaning you will burn more calories daily. Low Leptin levels have been found to lead to a vigorous drive to eat ie. increased Ghrelin levels, increased cravings and food binges!
Moral of the story; 1) Do not rush eating your food. 2) Make sure you eat little and often (every 2-3 hours) to keep your leptin levels high.
I specialise in one to one training and lifestyle coaching for weight loss & diabetes. I am an expert in all aspects of training and nutrition for Individuals who are looking to lose anything between 1-10 stone. I have worked in the fitness industry for 8 years, including work for SKY TV featuring as a trainer on TV series FAT: The Fight Of My Life (2013) in which my contributer Darren lost 10 Stone in 8 months.