Listen to your belly

Listen to your belly


As I mentioned in the last newsletter, losing weight doesn’t need to be a complicated science, for 95% of us it is just eating less, eating better quality food and doing more exercise. This newsletter is focusing on eating less. It’s not rocket science, but if you eat less you will lose weight right.

We have two hormones that if we listen to, will help us drop some pounds.

Ghrelin: Ghrelin is a hormone that is released by the cells that line the stomach. It lets us know when we are hungry as levels increase when we haven’t eaten for a while and decrease following food intake. Ghrelin release becomes aligned to our eating routines, so if you typically snack all day, then your body will become used to this and will release ghrelin to let you know that you normally eat now. Bad habits are hard to beat but can be beaten. We have all heard the old phrase it takes 21 days to form a habit. It’s true. If you stop drinking wine every day/ eating chocolate at 3pm or always going for a second serving for 21 days you will no longer have that habit.

Ghrelin also works with the reward sensors in the brain, which are linked to addictions and cravings. So if you normally have a chocolate bar mid-afternoon, your brain will tell you it’s chocolate time again and cause the craving. You don’t need it and if you stay strong you can beat these cravings, set new healthy habits.

Leptin: Leptin is an appetite suppressant. It basically tells us that we are full and should stop eating. One of the problems with leptin is that it can take 20 minutes to reach the brain to alert us to stop eating. As many people eat food on the go or in front of the TV, we eat too quickly and don’t wait to see if our body is satisfied. Before we know it we are reaching for a second helping or a desert, which if we waited we wouldn’t crave.

You can also become leptin intolerant. By not listening to the leptin response and continuing to over eat the brain becomes less sensitive to leptin and doesn’t send the full/ satisfied signal. Leptin intolerance is caused by eating too much, too quickly and eating poor quality foods. It is thought that leptin intolerance is one of the main reasons of our ever increasing obese nation.


A few tips to help you work with your ghrelin and leptin levels?

1.       Act early on hunger. The longer you wait, the more desperate you will be come and the worse choices you will make.

2.       Develop a routine of 3 meals a day.

3.       Take time to eat. Move away from your computer at work or your TV at home while you are eating. Wait at least 20 minutes and then ask yourself do I need more food. 95% of the time the answer is no.

4.       Use a smaller plate. Portion size is again another habit.

5.       Get a good 7-8 hours sleep a night. If you deprive your body of sleep you will crave food when you are not actually hungry. Lack of sleep upsets your ghrelin and leptin levels. If you haven’t had enough sleep you will tend to feel hungry and crave carbohydrates.

6.       Reduce or avoid starchy carbs (pasta, rice, breads, wheat, cereals) as these lead to high blood sugar levels and then a sugar crash causing a craving for more.

7.       Make sure your meals are stacked with nutrients. Meals that lack nutrients (starchy carbs) will stimulate your body to source these nutrients leaving you with a lack of satiety and craving.