Weight loss related Hormones – Leptin, Ghrelin, Cortisol, Insulin, Adrenalin and Noradrenalin
Weight loss is controlled with hormones leptin and ghrelin, but cortisol and insulin also play significant role. The ghrelin hormone is the “hunger hormone” and leptin is the “starvation hormone” or “satiety hormone“. Lots of leptin speeds up your metabolism, low level slows it. Ghrelin levels go up dramatically before you eat; this signals hunger. Ghrelin then goes down for about two-three hours after the meal. Research shows that lowering levels of ghrelin leads to decreased body fat. The ghrelin hormone not only stimulates the brain giving rise to an increase in appetite, but also favors the accumulation of fat located in the abdominal region. Ghrelin levels increase after dieting, and that is one of the reasons why fad diets fail and why dieters weight yo-yoes.
Leptin is your appetite suppressor – the hormone that signals your body that you’ve had enough to eat and is a key player in optimizing weight loss. Many foods can either block or increase leptin. Leptin tells your brain that you have enough energy stored in your fat cells to engage in normal, relatively expensive metabolic processes. When people diet, they eat less and their fat cells lose some fat, which then decreases the amount of leptin produced. And then your brain senses starvation. Yo-Yo cycling results in low leptin. When you’re on a fad diet that restricts calories, that diet lowers leptin, raises ghrelin and boosts appetite. This sounds like a hormonal snowball effect that prevents weight loss, isn’t it? That is why it’s important to have proper, healthy whole foods superfoods diet already a part of your life once you have finished with weight loss phase. Because superfoods diet lowers calories, but keeps stomach full with proteins and fibers and that increase satiety, prevents hunger, fixes your appetite and helps lowering ghrelin production. Eating 5 meals a day also regulates ghrelin production.
Evolution makes it difficult for women because body is preprogrammed to store fat and energy for babies. Leptin is produced by fat cells and Ghrelin is produced by stomach.
There are no leptin rich foods because our intestines cannot process it. But we can increase our sensitivity to it. Some foods can help increase the sensitivity, and that means that our metabolism can go up, cravings can go down, and our battle can be helped along. Have a protein for breakfast. Eat dark leafy fiber rich veggies (sounds familiar?). Eat fish. All these foods increase sensitivity to anything, leptin included. Exercising also increases leptin sensitivity.
Foods that decrease leptin sensitivity are, you guessed it, processed foods. All of them. Carbs are especially notorious. Excessive carbohydrates are not only terrible about blocking the leptin signals; they are also what we reach for when we are really craving something. The more carbohydrates we eat, the more the craving happens. Carbs cause increase in insulin levels and that leads to insulin resistance. If insulin resistance occurs, then also leptin resistance occurs.
Low glycemic-index foods decrease the amount of insulin produced. Leptin levels should be highest in the evening and lowest in the morning; which means you should be hungry in the morning and not in the evening. If you are hungry in the evening, that means that leptin resistance occurs.
Few words about last chunk of stubborn fat that won’t go off even when we have reached our ideal weight. After you eat, insulin and fatty acids are raised. You are in the fed state and there is no fat burning going on. Your body is depending entirely on glucose oxidation thru the hours after the meal.
As the hours go by and the nutrients from the meal are absorbed there is a shift to fat burning and utilization of stored fat. This process is mediated by insulin and blood-borne fatty acids. When levels drop, an energy deficit is “sensed” and adrenaline and noradrenaline increase.
Adrenaline and noradrenaline travel through the blood and connect to receptors on fat cells. A receptor can be assumed of as a “lock.” Hormones and neurotransmitters are keys that is suitable for that lock and make something happen. Regular fat have a lot of beta-2 receptors in proportion to alpha-2 receptors. B2-receptors are “accelerators” for fat loss and a2-receptors are “breaks” for fat loss.
The ratio between b2-receptors and a2-receptors governs how easy it is to enable fat loss from one part of the body. “Easy” fat has a great ratio of b2-receptors to a2-receptors, while stubborn fat has a high ratio of a2-receptors to b2-receptors. Easy fat is on our limbs and stubborn fat is belly and love handles in both men and women and thighs only in women. Women can have up to 5-8 times more a-2 receptors in their hip and thigh fat. Activation of the a1 and b-receptors is lipolytic (causes fat breakdown) while activation of the a2 receptor is anti-lipolytic (blunts fat breakdown). Stubborn fat areas have a high density of a2 receptors, making it harder for fat breakdown to occur in that area. Stress and sleep affect your ability to lose stubborn fat. So, make sure that you get enough sleep and lower your stress level as much as you can. Also, eat regularly, 3 meals and 2 snacks per day. Missing meals increases stress. Here is where cortisol comes in the game.
Cortisol is your stress hormone. It’s an important hormone that’s essential for human survival. Every time your body experiences any type of stress, your body secretes cortisol, which then starts a cascade of other physiological reactions necessary for your body to continue functioning.
You can look at it like an emergency generator. Cortisol turns “off” many of the normal physiological mechanisms and turns “on” many temporary physiological mechanisms.
In a normal situation, cortisol secretion only lasts for a quick burst of time and after that all metabolic functions go back to usual. But this is where things can go wrong, because in lots of cases these stresses that cause your body to produce cortisol happen too often and stay “on” for too long.
When you’re body experiences constant stress, it constantly secretes cortisol and that’s when cortisol turn into counterproductive to your body. And depending on how long and how much cortisol you have in your body, it can really compromise your health and change your metabolic process causing you to gain stubborn belly fat! Superfoods Diet balances cortisol production. When your stress and cortisol levels are high, the body essentially resists weight loss. Your body reasons times are tough and you might starve, so it stores the fat you eat or have present on your body. Cortisol have a habit to take fat from healthier areas, like your limbs and hips, and move it to your stomach area which has more cortisol receptors.
But as a conclusion, remember this fact: some belly fat is natural. Its main purpose is actually to protect the vital internal organs. To lose all your belly fat is to defy nature. This is why it is so difficult to achieve. I have chosen to lose weight and not stress myself about few pounds of belly fat.
This hormone story might sound too complicated, but essentially it tells you that processed foods, empty carbs and sugar are playing havoc with our hormones and makes us fat. People started to get obese when processed food entered our lives. But simple whole foods Superfoods regulate all our hormones back to normal. More about how Superfoods Diet regulates all hormones and processes in our bodies can be found in my book Superfoods Today Weight Loss.