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How to switch off your hunger hormones

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Have you been struggling to lose weight?

If so, you know that the battle against the bulge can be lonely, especially if you are relying on willpower alone to win the war.

You see, it’s not just about whether or not you are strong enough to resist when the ice cream calls out to you from the freezer.  It’s not just about your genetics or even just how much you eat.

Your hormones play a real role in whether or not you lose weight.

There are a number of hormones in your body that are responsible for signaling to you when you are hungry or full.  Get these hormones out of whack and your weight can suffer.

Let’s take a look at the two most important hunger hormones and how you can keep them balanced to achieve your weight loss goals.

Hunger hormone # 1 – Ghrelin

Ghrelin is your appetite inducing hormone.  It’s the one that yells out, “Hey, it’s time to eat.”  Ghrelin levels rise before each meal and fall immediately after eating.

The thing to remember with this hormone is that it doesn’t have a cap, so trying to ignore it and starve yourself won’t work.  It just keeps building and building until the desire to eat is undeniable.

Hunger hormone # 2 – Leptin

Leptin is the hormone that counters the growling stomach from ghrelin.  Leptin is produced by your fat cells to send signals to your brain.  It’s the hormone that tells you that you’ve had enough and are full.

The problem is that you can actually become resistant to leptin, leaving your body feeling hungry even when your mind knows you’ve had your fill.

Balance your hunger hormones

The three main reasons that your hunger hormones get off kilter are lack of sleep, stress, and dieting.

This means that the best prescription for weight loss doesn’t come in a bag from the pharmacy.  Instead, it’s regular exercise, good sleep and a consistent, healthy diet, with no yo-yoing to throw those hormones out of balance.

A diet high in protein has been shown to help suppress that “growling ghrelin” to keep you from feeling so hungry.  It’s especially helpful to start your day with a good protein-rich breakfast.  It even has a positive impact on leptin, giving you that full feeling longer.

Make sure to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep per night since just two hours less sleep than your body needs raises your hunger hormones.

And, commit to regular moderate exercise since studies show that getting your body moving actually increases the hormones that turn off hunger and decreases your body’s leptin resistance making sure you get those “full” signals.

Your body’s hormones play a big part in whether or not you are able to easily drop those extra pounds. Remember, losing weight often takes more than willpower alone.  Help your body by balancing your hormones with the right combination of sleep, exercise, and diet.

Editor’s note: Hormones rule the roost. But did you know your body has one master hormone? Insulin is considered your body’s master mediator and its role in your health goes far beyond balancing blood sugar. In fact research says it may be the key to living to 100. To read more about it, check out Dr. Michael Cutler’s groundbreaking guide, The Insulin Factor.

Sources:
  1. http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/070115p26.shtml
  2. Isaacs S. Beat Overeating Now!: Take Control Of Your Hunger Hormones To Lose Weight Fast. Beverly, MA: Far Winds Press; 2012:66-68, 147.
  3. Crujeiras AB, Goyenechea E, Abete I, Lage M, Carreira MC, Martínez JA, Casanueva FF. Weight regain after a diet-induced loss is predicted by higher baseline leptin and lower ghrelin plasma levels. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2010 Nov;95(11):5037-44. Epub 2010 Aug 18.
  4. Spiegel K, Tasali E, Penev P(2004). Brief communication: Sleep curtailment in healthy young men is associated with decreased leptin levels, elevated ghrelin levels and increased hunger and appetite. Annals of internal Medicine. Dec Vol. 141 (11) -846 – 851.
  5. Kuo LE, et al, Neuropeptide Y acts directly in the periphery on fat tissue and mediates stress-induced obesity and metabolic syndrome. Nature Medicine. 2007 13, 803-811.
  6. Schwarz NA, Rigby BR, La Bounty P, Shelmadine B, Bowden RG. A review of weight control strategies and their effects on the regulation of hormonal balance. J Nutr Metab. 2011;237932.
  7. Schwarz NA, Rigby BR, La Bounty P, Shelmadine B, Bowden RG. A review of weight control strategies and their effects on the regulation of hormonal balance. J Nutr Metab. 2011;237932.
  8. Schwarz NA, Rigby BR, La Bounty P, Shelmadine B, Bowden RG. A review of weight control strategies and their effects on the regulation of hormonal balance. J Nutr Metab. 2011;237932.
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