Are you aware that powerful brain and gut hormones impact our daily eating behaviors, as well as weight loss efforts? Recent research has revealed numerous hormones that help dictate overall appetite control. Let’s take a quick look at 2 of these hormones.
Leptin: The Satiety Hormone
Leptin is produced by fat cells. It suppresses your appetite by telling your brain that you are full. The more body fat a person has the more leptin they have circulating in their body. However, being overweight causes the body to be resistant to the effects of leptin. Consequently, these individuals actually experience higher hunger levels.
Ghrelin: The Hunger Hormone
Ghrelin causes us to feel hungry. It is produced by the stomach and travels to the brain to signal that it’s time to eat. After meals, ghrelin levels drop, but then begin to rise again until the next meal. The longer you go without eating, the more ghrelin that will accumulate. Skipping meals or going too long between meals or snacks causes excessive hunger due to high ghrelin levels, leading to overeating.
Managing Appetite Hormones
Here is a short list of ways to help stabilize hormone levels that affect hunger:
- Eat on a schedule. This prevents spikes and crashes in appetite hormones, so you are less likely to overeat from excessive hunger.
- Eat a high protein breakfast. This stabilizes hunger for the whole day. Protein specifically reduces ghrelin (hunger hormone) best.
- Eat a mix of protein, fat and minimally processed carbohydrates at meals and snacks. This stimulates a broad spectrum of satiety hormones.
- Eat protein at each meal/snack. Protein foods (like greek yogurt, lean meat, or eggs) have the most power to curb ghrelin production.
- Get adequate sleep. Lack of sleep raises ghrelin (hunger) and reduces leptin (satiety).
- Commit to regular exercise. This increases levels of satiety hormones and reduces leptin resistance.
Reference: Today’s Dietitian July 2015, “Appetite Hormones,” by Marsha McDulloch, MS, RD, LD
By: Katie Sonnek, RD, LN