Don’t wait until 2017 to make good on your new year’s resolution to drop those stubborn holiday pounds! Turn your weight loss hormones on now so the damage is minimal after you’ve popped the champagne and sample more than your share of sweets.
We all know calories in and calories out combined with a good dose of exercise, is a winning formula for weight loss. But for many of us with bad lifestyle habits or too much holiday cheer, the problem might be misfiring hormones.
Some hormones can be re-balanced with simple modifications.
Leptin, a Greek word meaning thin, is a peptide hormone that is produced by fat cells and plays a role in body weight regulation. It lives in the body’s fat cells and travels in the bloodstream to the brain sending an “I’m full” message and to stop eating.
If you are overweight, leptin levels can get out of whack because it is secreted by your adipose (fat) tissue. The more weight you carry, the more leptin is secreted, and it has the opposite affect of telling the brain it’s full.
Too much of a hormone circulating in your system can cause your body to become resistant. A result of too much means your brain misses signal that you are FULL and you keep eating!
How to manage:
- Vegetables have been shown to reduce the inflammation that interferes with leptin, which in turn helps increase fat burning and reduces cravings. Broccoli, for instance, is rich in both vitamin C and calcium and decreases leptin resistance.
- Unprocessed oatmeal can increase metabolism and decrease leptin resistance. As a low glycemic carbohydrate it decreases insulin levels and is rich in fiber. Adding a dash of cinnamon can help to stabilize blood sugar.
- Eating lean proteins, such as chicken, turkey, fish and shellfish, tofu, edamame, eggs (in moderation), low-fat dairy like Greek yogurt, bean, and lentils aids in reducing leptin.
- Salmon and tuna, both rich in Omega 3, have been shown to be one of the best fat burning foods as it helps bring down leptin levels which in turn helps the body burn calories more quickly.
- Consuming a small amount of almonds daily can aid in increasing leptin sensitivity.
- Apples are one of the best-known whole food sources of pectin. Research-based evidence shows that pectin might help battle leptin resistance.
- Anti-oxidant activities of sesame seeds help in lowering leptin resistance, as well.
- And it’s always a good idea to eliminate processed foods and sugar!
Ghrelin is your HUNGER hormone. It says, “Time to eat.” The more ghrelin in your system the hungrier you are. Ghrelin is made in the stomach and tends to rise before you eat and decrease after a meal.
Are you struggling with all-day cravings? Ghrelin is the munchies hormone.
Ghrelin is also released during stressful situations. Which is why you may want to eat when you are stressed out.
Ghrelin works directly on the hunger center of the brain by activating the brain’s REWARD response to sweets and fatty foods.
How to manage:
- Avoid severe caloric restrictions. Low calorie diets increase ghrelin production. Eating regularly, especially when you’re starting out your weight loss journey, you’ll best be served by eating every 3-4 hours. This will help keep your ghrelin low and your hunger cravings to a minimum.
- Eat non-starchy vegetables such as Brussels sprouts and broccoli which are high in both water and fiber. They stretch out your stomach, which lowers your ghrelin levels.
- Eating protein and healthy fats with each meal slows the digestive process and slows the rate at which food is emptied from your stomach. The longer you have food in your stomach, the longer your ghrelin levels stay low.
- Avoid fructose from processed foods. Fructose raises ghrelin levels, making you feel hungry, and it also lowers leptin levels, preventing you from feeling full.
- Make sure you’re consuming adequate omega 3 fatty acids which can be found in salmon, sardines, anchovies or mackerel. Studies have shown that insufficient omega 3 intake increases ghrelin production.
- Get SLEEP, 6-8 hours per night. New research shows that low levels of sleep deprivation increase your ghrelin levels leading to more body fat.
Leptin and ghrelin are just two hormones you can manage, but there are others you can control with exercise 30-60 minutes most days of the week, making time to de-stress, and starting your day with a healthy breakfast.
During the holiday adopt a few of these good habits so sliding in the New Year isn’t so weighty!