Did you ever try to lose weight only to regain it back. It is defeating after all your hard work. It can be your hormones working against you.
Hormones are very powerful chemical messengers that regulate mood, energy, weight, metabolism, growth, reproduction, digestion and just about every mind/body process. A hormone called ghrelin regulates the feeling of hunger. It makes you want to eat. Extreme dieting can turn it on, and eating can turn it off.
It’s not that simple.
Ghrelin does a lot more.
Ghrelin is produced in your stomach and acts on the hypothalamus in your brain. It tells your brain that you are hungry and produces the urge to eat. It will slow the emptying of food from your stomach so you will feel fuller longer. It will raise blood sugar, decrease your burning of fat as fuel for energy and regulates bone metabolism and is involved in cancer development and metastases. 1
There are other factors that play a role in regulating this hormone which can make you overeat especially after dieting. Here are the top 4 things you can do to lower ghrelin, lose weight and keep it off.
Eat More Protein.
A high protein breakfast decreased ghrelin more than a high carbohydrate breakfast. High protein diets can preserve muscle and whey protein had the strongest reduction in ghrelin. However, a high protein diet can be very acidic and increase the load on the kidneys. Buffer your protein with alkaline vegetables that are high in potassium. If you are athletic and lean, be sure to have enough carbohydrates as fuel, you need carbohydrates for a good workout. Whereas if you are obese, restricting carbohydrates is best. The high protein breakfast also reduced gastric emptying making people feel full longer. 2,3
Get Enough Sleep.
Poor sleep raises ghrelin levels, and this may be the reason why tired people eat more and gain weight. Studies of people with sleep deprivation showed they tended to eat more sweet and salty snacks and more calories in general. Sleep loss can be a risk factor for obesity. 4,5 Strive for 6-8 hours of sleep per night. You can’t make up for sleep loss by sleeping more on the weekends.
Stressed people have higher levels of ghrelin and associated with other stress hormones that make you gain or regain weight. 6 Stress can be physical, emotional or chemical. It is important to find the source of your stress. Are you in pain, having hot flashes, restless legs or perhaps you have been exposed to pesticides which are toxic to your nervous system. Hormone imbalances, infections, inflammation, nutritional excess or deficiency can be perceived as stress. Get an evaluation by a functional medicine doctor to get to the root cause. If stress is emotional such as worry or anxiety, there are a variety of techniques to squash the stress response, lower your hunger and cravings and keep your weight off.
Exercise with High Intensity Interval Training
Exercise raises growth hormone which builds muscle and burns fat. Short sprints of high intensity exercise not only raised growth hormone but lowered ghrelin levels. 7 A review of many other studies also showed that higher intensity exercise has a higher reduction in ghrelin levels.8 Managing appetite and fat burning is key to weight maintenance.
These simple lifestyle measures can help you not only lose weight but keep it off. Simple is not always easy so if you need support in losing or maintaining weight loss, apply for a free, no obligation clarity call to see if we are a good fit.
- Pradhan G, Samson SL, Sun Y. Ghrelin: much more than a hunger hormone. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2013;16(6):619-624. doi:10.1097/MCO.0b013e328365b9be
- Pesta DH, Samuel VT. A high-protein diet for reducing body fat: mechanisms and possible caveats. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2014;11:53. doi:10.1186/1743-7075-11-53
- Blom WAM, Lluch A, Stafleu A, et al. Effect of a high-protein breakfast on the postprandial ghrelin response. Am J Clin Nutr. 2006;83(2):211-220. doi:10.1093/ajcn/83.2.211
- Calvin AD, Carter RE, Adachi T, et al. Effects of experimental sleep restriction on caloric intake and activity energy expenditure. Chest. 2013;144(1):79-86. doi:10.1378/chest.12-2829
- Broussard JL, Kilkus JM, Delebecque F, et al. Elevated ghrelin predicts food intake during experimental sleep restriction. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2016;24(1):132-138. doi:10.1002/oby.21321
- Adams CE, Greenway FL, Brantley PJ. Lifestyle factors and ghrelin: critical review and implications for weight loss maintenance. Obes Rev. 2011;12(5):e211-218. doi:10.1111/j.1467-789X.2010.00776.x
- Stokes KA, Sykes D, Gilbert KL, Chen JW, Frystyk J. Brief, high intensity exercise alters serum ghrelin and growth hormone concentrations but not IGF-I, IGF-II or IGF-I bioactivity. Growth Horm IGF Res. 2010;20(4):289-294. doi:10.1016/j.ghir.2010.03.004
- Anderson KC, Zieff G, Paterson C, Stoner L, Weltman A, Allen JD. The effect of acute exercise on pre-prandial ghrelin levels in healthy adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Peptides. 2021;145:170625. doi:10.1016/j.peptides.2021.170625