Eating right, doing exercise, staying on a healthy diet and leading an active lifestyle are sure-shot factors for weight loss but there are certain other elements too that play a significant role in weight gain or loss-hunger hormones. Controlling and regulating them is the secret key to shed away those extra flabs quite easily.
It is possible to lose weight and what is difficult is to maintain the lost weight. This is because, all these years you stay on a particular weight and when you work against it, your body assumes it to be a potentially life-threatening condition and starts reacting against the weight loss. It goes into starvation mode, releases hormones that boost your appetite and tries to preserve your fat.
Ghrelin & Leptin
Leptin and ghrelin are two hormones that control appetite and influence energy balance. Ghrelin is responsible for meal initiation while leptin sees to energy balance, suppresses food intake and induces weight loss. Both these hormones are exactly the opposite of each other. Produced in the stomach lining, ghrelin induces appetite. Secreted by fat cells, leptin initiates fullness.
Is your stomach rumbling with funny sounds? If yes, it is the ghrelin hormone stimulating appetite and urging you to eat your meal. Pivotal to appetite and release of growth hormone, ghrelin is predominantly produced in the stomach and the small intestine with a small portion of the hormone released in the brain and pancreas.
Although ghrelin is coined as the ‘hunger hormone’, it serves multiple other functionalities as well. Ghrelin is used to:
Hormones affect the overall health of a person. Leptin is designed such that proper use and regulation of the hormone helps a person maintain his/her body weight. It is like a personal trainer sending signals to the brain to stop eating once you are full and also helps the brain regulate the amount of energy used by the body in a day.
Leptin is released by fat cells located in the adipose tissue and an individual’s store of leptin is related to an individual’s amount of body fat. Increase in body fat increases leptin levels while decrease in body fat decreases leptin levels.
Known as the satiety hormone, leptin prevents hunger and regulates energy balance so that we don’t feel hungry unless we are deficit of energy. Losing weight decreases leptin levels and low levels of this hormone increases appetite and food cravings. That’s why people who repeat weight loss programs face increased difficulty levels in losing weight.
An obese/overweight person has increased leptin levels in the blood and this makes the person quite indifferent to satiety levels creating a condition known as leptin resistance. The individual keeps eating, fat cells produce more leptin to indicate fullness and this leads to more leptin hormone generation. In rare cases, leptin levels are very low resulting in a condition known as congenital leptin deficiency. There is minimum leptin, the body assumes that it is devoid of fat and hence, leads to tremendous hunger and extreme food intake. Common in childhood, it causes childhood obesity and delayed puberty. Physicians often prescribe leptin injections to compensate for low leptin levels.
Science of Hunger
Losing weight makes the hunger hormone go in the opposite direction. All the hormones that make you feel full go down and ghrelin levels go up. Usually, leptin levels ebb and flow like tides while ghrelin levels shot up before a meal and immediately come down after eating. But, when a person is overweight/obese, ghrelin levels don’t drop as fast and far as it should, and your brain still gets signals of hunger. Compensate incessant hunger by eating filling things that are healthy too. Choose foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains and anything that is high in fiber but low in calories. Eating fiber-rich foods makes you chew the food for a longer period, help you eat slowly and keep you fuller for a longer time. Along with proper food habits, you need to exercise and sleep properly to accelerate weight loss. A sleep-deprived person is never going to sustain through the weight loss plan and come out successfully. Without a good night’s sleep, weight loss is almost impossible.
Exercise without reducing calorie intake is also not going to help you lose weight. Only exercising can help in weight maintenance but never help you succeed in weight loss goals. There are a set of people who lose weight successfully but get back all their lost weight in a short period. They blame themselves, feel that they have not done justice to their weight loss goal and strive harder. It’s actually the hormones that trigger their cravings and its purely biological. Give your best and do whatever is possible to lose weight. In due course, you are bound to succeed and stay tuned with your goals-weight loss or management. If you wish to lose weight in a healthy way get in touch with registered dietitian nutritionists at www.firsteatright.com. An RDN can help you identify any hormonal imbalance, correct health deficiencies, plan a diet chart suiting your body needs and health conditions and monitor your weight loss/weight maintenance process.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.