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Hormones and Weight Gain - Leptin & Ghrelin

As most women know, hormones are incredibly powerful chemicals that deeply impact our bodies and lifestyle, including weight. But just like the hormonal changes we go through in puberty, we cannot escape the changes we go through in later life; we have to try to create balance as best we can.

Wendy Byard - Hormones and weightgain

How To Fix The Hormones That Control Your Weight Part 1.

Two hormones, Leptin and Ghrelin, are critical in regulating our appetite and energy. Leptin signals our brain to reduce appetite and increase energy expenditure, while Ghrelin stimulates hunger. If you're trying to lose weight, it can be challenging to stay on track when you're constantly feeling hungry due to decreased Leptin and increased Ghrelin levels.

Leptin and your appetite

It's really important to understand Leptin if you're serious about maintaining a healthy weight. You can think of Leptin as the appetite suppressant hormone. Made within your fat cells, Leptin is what makes you feel satiated. It "talks" to your brain, telling it when you feel hungry or full.

When your Leptin levels are balanced, you don't overeat because you feel full after eating a balanced meal, and that fullness lasts for hours.

But Leptin doesn't listen to all foods.

Have you ever noticed how sweets and processed foods leave you feeling empty and wanting more, even after a short time?

What's also worth considering is if your diet has been a food or sweet-based... eating trans fats and processed foods over the long term can cause havoc and eventually lead to Leptin resistance.

What is Leptin resistance?

When your body becomes resistant to Leptin, its levels become too high. With Leptin resistance, your brain doesn't understand that it's full and tells your body to keep eating. It's as if your brain thinks you're starving when you're just Leptin resistant.

To reverse Leptin resistance or prevent it from happening in the first place, think about food, drink, and supplements. Everything in your body is impacted by what you put into it, and Leptin's no different.

Sugar, in particular, can cause Leptin levels in your body to go through the roof, so a good step is to eat less sugar. Other ways to prevent or reduce Leptin resistance include:

  • Supplementing with anti-inflammatory fish oil

  • Taking regular exercise (that can be anything, you don't have to go to the gym)

  • Getting a really good night's sleep on a regular basis.

What you need to know about Ghrelin

Ghrelin is your hunger hormone, and just like Leptin, it communicates with the brain. But in this case, it tells your brain to eat. Every time your stomach is empty, it releases Ghrelin into your blood. Ghrelin levels are at their lowest just after you've finished a meal and at their highest when the stomach is empty and you're ready for your next meal.

If someone struggles with their weight, it can be that their Ghrelin levels don't decrease enough after eating, which fails to send the brain the signal it needs to stop eating and feel satisfied.

How to balance Ghrelin levels

Here are a couple of ways:

  • Eat adequate amounts of protein. Protein helps you feel full and, if possible, should be consumed with every meal. Studies show how eating protein promotes healthy Ghrelin levels.

  • Avoid sugar as much as possible. Consuming too much sugar disrupts hormonal balance, making weight loss almost impossible. Be sure to read the labels.

  • Avoid high-fructose corn syrup at all costs, as it's one of the primary culprits of an imbalance in hormones and weight gain.

Join me next week for the next part in this series

Studies referenced in this piece


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