The Crucial Role of Hormones in Weight Loss
After trying out several diets and exercise plans, we find it out that it’s not so easy to lose weight.
You see, learning about the role of hormones in weight management can help you reprogram your body to shed a few pounds easily and effectively.
Eating less, skipping meals, and going for a walk is all great but not enough to keep your waistline in check. This is especially true as we get older since metabolism slows down, which makes it more challenging to lose weight.
Understanding the biology that balances your hormones to keep your brain and stomach happy is the key to accelerate weight loss.
In this article, we will share with you the body’s mechanisms to manage energy and the science behind losing weight.
Hunger Hormones – the key to gut balance
There are 2 major hormones that control the hunger response: Ghrelin and Leptin.
When the stomach empties, you feel hungry as the hunger-stimulating hormone (i.e., ghrelin) gets released into the bloodstream to instruct your brain that it’s time to eat.
Conversely, food intake stimulates fat cells to release other hunger hormones (e.g., leptin), which suppress feelings of hunger.
In summary, ghrelin and leptin produce opposite effects to regulate the hunger response.
Understanding the function of the gut hormones is crucial to becoming more comfortable with the process of dieting, hunger, and satiety.
As your stomach becomes empty, ghrelin gets produced by special cells in your gut to travel to the brain via the bloodstream. Consequently, you feel hungry and start looking for food.
This hormone sends a message to your brain to “go grab some food!”
Ghrelin is mainly secreted by the upper part of the stomach in response to stretch receptors. A small amount of ghrelin is also secreted by the duodenum – the first part of the small intestine.
Factors that trigger the release of ghrelin include:
- When the body expects food intake (your regular mealtime)
- Stressful situations (i.e., stress-eating)
- Fasting and dieting
Leptin (i.e., the satiety hormone) gets produced by the fat cells (adipose tissue) to tell the brain that you’ve had enough.
Interestingly, overweight and obese people have a higher level of leptin in their bloodstream with reduced sensitivity to its action.
As a result, these individuals have faulty satiety signals, which inadvertently lead to more caloric intake and obesity.
Leptin resistance is similar to insulin resistance associated with diabetes. Therefore, reducing your body fat helps with leptin resistance and satiety.
To increase leptin levels in your body:
- Limit inflammatory foods (e.g., trans-fats, fructose)
- Consume complex carbohydrates (e.g., fiber), omega 3 (fish), healthy fats, leafy greens, and nuts
- Get more sleep
- Avoid severe calorie restriction
Hunger versus appetite
Hunger is a physiological response, whereas appetite is more psychological. In other words, the difference between the two concepts boils down to:
- Hunger – the need to eat
- Appetite – the desire to eat
Ghrelin is a hormone responsible for our biological need to prevent starvation.
To reduce ghrelin levels in your body:
- Follow the whole food diet and avoid sugars
- Manage stress with relaxation techniques (e.g., yoga)
- Limit snacking
- Do some high-intensity training regularly
- Change your mindset
Understanding the hormonal processes that regulate your hunger response and gut health will play a vital role in achieving any fitness/nutrition goals.
Hopefully, we managed to simplify this rather complex topic into understandable bits; however, if you still have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out and ask how we can help to set you on a healthy path.