By Gracy Singh: Balance is everything when you are trying to lose weight. You follow all of the necessary steps to take care of yourself, like watching what you eat, exercising regularly, and try to get enough sleep every night. However, what if you stepped up your efforts just bit? By pairing up healthy habits with even healthier food and drink options, you can improve your weight loss plan by gaining control of ghrelin, that seemingly elusive hormone that increases appetite and slows down the dieting process. Well, come to find out, this hormone is not so difficult to regulate after all.
Ghrelin—what exactly is its purpose?
Ghrelin is often perceived as the main obstacle of all dieting, and truly, when it is off balance, losing weight becomes almost impossible because it affects your “will power.” However, ghrelin does serve a useful and necessary purpose in your digestive process. Ghrelin originates in the pancreas and stomach and builds up the appetite when the body sends signals that there is a need for more energy and nutrients. Under pressing circumstances, ghrelin helps a body to keep going when energy is low and thus, storing it in the fat cells, which would inhibit weight loss. (Albeit, the whole rationale for fat is future use.)Finally, ghrelin assists with the most important functions of the brain.
Too much of good thing?
As with any biochemical in the body, if too much ghrelin is released into the system, then the digestive process is thrown off balance; too much food is stored away as fat; and ironically, your appetite increases to the point of almost uncontrollable.Ultimately, the cravings commence—and usually for snacks that are not allowed in the diet. This cycle tends to develop mostly due to insomnia, but other factors, like stress and anxiety can play a role. Therefore getting adequate sleep and exercise (to curb fatigue) and coping constructively with life’s challenges can help tremendously with any weight loss endeavor (not to mention the overall perspective on all types of circumstances).
Also, if you partake of a more nutritious diet, then you can prevent ghrelin from going into overload and adversely affecting your appetite. It takes time and some mindfulness in regard to meal planning, but taking the right steps is vital to your health, especially if you’re looking to break a rollercoaster cycle of dieting, losing, and then gaining back the weight.
The Link between Habits and Ghrelin levels
Naturally, what you eat and drink plays a role in the production of ghrelin just as much as your sleep cycles and reaction to stress or trauma (Source). For example, if you consume even a small amount of sugary foods and drinks on a daily basis (and even more than once a day, which is worse), and consequently, you feel like you are “crashing,” then your ghrelin levels will greatly increase in order to send out the “call” for more energy—which translates into needing (or rather wanting) more food because you think you need that reboot, when in reality, the simple carb has already been exhausted.What’s unfortunate is that this pattern can continue if it is not dealt with properly.
Likewise, if you make it a habit of skipping meals, then ghrelin and cortisol levels react, along with insulin after a meal or snack, and thus, causes you to eat more than what you would have otherwise. The most tempting part about a hectic and busy lifestyle is saying to yourself that you do not have time to eat in spite of the fact that you are indeed hungry. (Again, with some attention to patterns, you will be able notice the difference between genuine hunger and cravings.) So keeping a fairly consistent schedule and not eating after you are full might help with dieting and with keeping “the hunger hormone” in line.
How Eating Healthy can lower Ghrelin
What is even more encouraging is that you can take control of this hormone and others in order to continue with your weight loss. The first step is to stock the pantry and the fridge with foods and beverages that will help enable the body to decrease the production of ghrelin. Some suggestions include the following:
- Protein-packed foods: This includes lean meats and fish, nuts and legumes, Greek yogurt (plain is the most versatile to use), low-fat or skim milk, and eggs. The amino acids that are found in protein provide the foundation for the formation of new cells in the body. This means more muscle tissue and a higher metabolism.
- Leafy greens: When combined with protein, these help facilitate in the production of other helpful hormones like leptin, melatonin, and serotonin. The added fiber is also a plus in controlling glucose levels and appetite.
- Teas: Some great varieties include chamomile, lavender, and mint which calm the nerves and helps relieve tummy trouble, green and oolong tea, which protect against damage caused by free radicals, black tea, which seems to have an effect on appetite and gives an energy boost.
- Coffee: If you don’t doctor it up too much or drink more than two cups, coffee can ward off the influx of ghrelin by lifting energy levels; plus, it contains tannins which reduces free radical damage.
- Fruits and berries: The best options include apples, blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, and cherries.
Once you have all necessary provisions, you will need to remember some important tips:
- Starting off the day with a protein-based breakfast is best in order to avoid the “crash” that comes from too many carbs and the rush of ghrelin to compensate.
- Give yourself more time (and water) before you have that first cup of coffee.
- To get a handle on afternoon fatigue, brew a cup of black tea. Add some cinnamon for flavor.
- Keeping drinking plenty of water. Dehydration disguises itself as hunger and leads to both cravings and fatigue.
- Instead of having soda (even diet soda) with your lunch, try drinking some green tea with a splash of lime juice instead.
- Remember the Steak and Egg days of the HCG diet work well with getting a hold on ghrelin levels.
- While you are in diet, you can still take HCG drops. Most of the dieticians suggest taking hcg drops for quick weight loss. Make sure to read reviews before you buy any product online. For instance, hcg complex reviews have more positive ratings than any other brand. Its just upto you.
Lower Ghrelin Means Less Weight
In case you’re wondering how lowering or at least gaining control of ghrelin will help you lose weight, consider the following:
- Over time, you will notice a lift in your mood and stamina because of the dietary changes and the consistency of sleep cycles.
- Even your stomach will love you for all the alterations of diet and the improved food choices; you’ll worry less about constipation and other bothersome conditions.
- You’ll gain more control over your appetite to where you will have no problem whatsoever leaving the table when you are full. This means that dropping pounds will become easier.
- The physical and emotional changes that come with these habits will give you more motivation to continue with your weight loss efforts and perhaps even build in more physical activity into your daily routine.
So conquering your hormonal woes is possible with time, patience, and a bit of self-discipline, but you will see how much better you will feel and how much easier losing unwanted pounds will be.
Gracy Singh has been a Freelance Nutrition Lifestyle Advisor since 2014. She is a Certified Dietician and Nutritionist who is very passionate about her work. Currently she is working on weight loss using HCG drops technique. She has vast experience in cases such as obesity, hypothyroid disease, and anemia.