From Total Health Breakthroughs By John Herring Editorial Director
There are two types of hunger…
1. Physical hunger is the feeling you get at the end of a long day. It is how you feel after a vigorous workout. Your stomach growls. You become tired and weak and your thinking slows down. This is your body telling you that it needs nutrients and energy.
2. Hormonal hunger, on the other hand, has little to do with mealtime. In fact, it can often strike shortly after a big meal. Hormonal hunger can cause strong cravings and a near continual desire to eat.
This type of hunger is the result of various hormones and neurotransmitters rising and falling in response to the foods we eat. These hormones not only influence your hunger mechanism, they also play an important role in how your body stores and burns fat.
One of the most important “hunger hormones” is leptin…
A team of researchers at the Rockefeller University discovered leptin in 1994. They were studying a genetic line of mice that continually consumed food until they became morbidly obese. These mice just did not “know when to say when.” Their fat-burning metabolism was also dysfunctional. Once the fat was on their bodies, it was there to stay.
The scientists discovered that these mice were missing a particular hormone. When the researchers injected this hormone into the animals, it curbed their appetite, stimulated their fat-burning metabolism and restored them to a normal body weight.
They called the hormone leptin, derived from the Greek word for “thin.”
Further research has proven that leptin is a very powerful messenger hormone. It helps perform countless functions in the body. Two of these are very important when it comes to hunger and body fat:
Leptin sends a signal to your brain that you are full. This shuts down your hunger mechanism. It also signals the fat inside your cells to break down into a usable form for energy.
When these signals are working, you stay feeling full for longer and the fat that is stored on your body is burned for fuel. This is a powerful combination for helping you to stay slim.
However, for many of us, leptin does not work as it should. It is blocked.
Are you resistant to leptin?
Leptin functions as a negative feedback loop. The hormone is produced by your fat cells. The more fat cells you have, the higher your levels of leptin. This helps to suppress your appetite and it stimulates your metabolism to burn fat. The result should be a return to a healthy weight.
However, when too many fat cells build up, a substance called C-reactive protein (CRP) sticks to the leptin. This blocks leptin’s ability to send your brain the “I’m full” signal. It also stifles your ability to burn fat.
This condition is called leptin resistance, and it is highly correlated with obesity (not to mention heart disease and diabetes). Leptin resistance can make losing weight nearly impossible – you are always hungry and your body is programmed to hold fat and not let go.
There are a number of things you can do to improve leptin “sensitivity.” Here are four that are very important:
1. Avoid large, gluttonous meals
2. Reduce your consumption of high-glycemic carbohydrates
3. Never go to bed on a full stomach
4. Eat protein with breakfast