In part one of this post we looked at the hormones ghrelin and leptin and the roles they play in controlling appetite. In part two we will look at some simple dietary and lifestyle changes that we can make to keep these two hormones in balance and prevent the problems associated with an imbalance.
Some things to avoid:
(MSG) can be found in ALL fast food and most processed foods. MSG is a leptin suppressant and can cause your appetite to spiral out of control. Your body loses its ability to recognise when it is full and you end up eating more than you normally would and getting hungrier much sooner.
Fructose not only suppresses leptin and insulin, preventing them from elevating to normal levels after a meal, it also increases ghrelin production. This can lead to an increase in appetite, causing you to eat more. Look out for high-fructose sweeteners in soft drinks and snack foods. And while fruit can be a good source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, they also contain fructose, so eat in moderation and avoid fruit juice, as the high concentration of fructose can lead to the same problem.
Some authors suggest keeping fructose intake under 25 grams per day (about one piece of fruit).
Eating enough food, and keeping your Calories above 1000 per day will help you to avoid the diet hormone surges that trigger uncontrollable hunger and the inevitable weight gain that follows.
Some things to do:
Eat every 4 hours.
Ghrelin is produced and secreted on a four-hour schedule. In order to keep ghrelin low, you need to eat every 3-4 hours.
Eat high fiber foods
When you eat the food stretches your stomach making you feel full and signals your body to reduce ghrelin. High volume, low calorie, nutrient-dense foods reduce ghrelin and increase leptin levels long before you have overeaten. A salad or vegetable soup full of fiber and water stretches your stomach more than processed food.
Eat more Omega-3.
A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids helps to boost leptin production. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids include grass-fed meats, walnuts, salmon, anchovies, sardines, mackerel, trout, chia seeds, flax seeds, summer squash, and kale.
Eat protein at every meal.
Protein takes longer to digest, and studies show it is the most effective food group at lowering ghrelin. It also has a high thermic effect. In other words, it takes a lot of energy to digest therefore increasing Calorie burn and helping you to lose weight. Research also suggests that protein improves leptin sensitivity.
Get at least 7 hours of sleep every night.
Getting less than 7 hours of sleep has been shown to promote higher ghrelin levels, decreased leptin levels, increased hunger, and higher body weight in research studies. People who sleep less are generally heavier than those getting adequate sleep.
Reduce your stress levels.
Stress is associated with higher ghrelin production. Some simple stress reduction methods are short walks, yoga and meditation, a warm soak in the bath, and listening to soothing music.
Intermittent fasting (not for everyone)
Leptin level is decreased after short-term fasting (24–72 hours). Intermittent fasting entails eating all of your food within an 8 hour period during the day and not eating anything for the next 16 hour period.