Some of us struggle to maintain a healthy weight and balanced blood sugar. I am one of those people. But, one of the most powerful tools I have found to help myself and my clients is to balance our hunger hormones. They are Ghrelin and Leptin. Balancing these two powerful hormones can have profound benefits to our health and our waistline.
Ghrelin is our hunger hormone – made in the intestinal tract – and it’s responsible for making us hungry. It rises before and decreases after meals. There are several habits and practices that tend to increase ghrelin and we don’t want that to happen.
Ghrelin increases when you…
1. Eat greasy high carbohydrate meals with little to no protein.
2. Constantly smell sweet foods, like at a bakery or the office donut table. Just smelling that food tells your brain to increase ghrelin!
3. Eating before bed increases ghrelin and inhibits quality sleep.
4. Skipping meals for a long period of time or excessive dieting can increase ghrelin 24 percent.
5. Eating too much fructose! This doesn’t register in our body to increase insulin which means that ghrelin will increase in our body shortly thereafter.
6. Manage stress because lack of sleep and high stress can trigger ghrelin production.
Ways to decrease ghrelin: (Hint: This is what we want!)
1. Eating on a schedule prevents overproduction of ghrelin.
2. Eating a good quality breakfast with protein, fiber and fat – produces less ghrelin throughout the day.
3. Fiber also keeps ghrelin levels down. Get your fiber from veggies!
4. Eat quality protein as it suppresses ghrelin.
Leptin – is a hormone responsible for signaling the brain to store or burn fat.
After you eat, your body releases leptin which tells your body to stop feeling hungry and start burning calories. Interestingly, the more fat your body carries, the more leptin you produce, but your body starts to become resistant – similar to insulin resistance. We want to optimize this hormone by eating foods that increase your body’s sensitivity to leptin.
Habits that decrease leptin – which we don’t want:
1. Eating the majority of your calories at dinner can delay leptin production for 2 hrs after a meal.
2. Alcohol. The body doesn’t produce leptin with alcohol in the liver.
3. Caffeine can decrease leptin levels.
4. High fructose corn syrup can cause leptin resistance.
5. Simple carbohydrate consumption can slow leptin movement. Think white flour and foods with refined sugar, like cereals and pasta.
To increase leptin – which is what we do want:
1. Omega 3 fatty acids – especially from fatty fish, like salmon and halibut.
2. Protein improves leptin sensitivity, which lowers calorie intake by helping you feel fuller faster. Thirty grams when you break your fast and at least another 60 grams throughout the day.
3. EPA – one of the omega 3 fatty acids can increase leptin production by enhancing the metabolism of glucose.
4. Zinc increases leptin levels. Eat grass-fed beef, certain nuts and oysters.
These practices are important in helping us to maintain a healthy weight and balanced blood sugar levels. If you struggle with these, let’s chat. Reach out at www.UnlockBetterHealth.com.