Weight Loss

Why You Are Hungry Despite Eating (Hunger Hormones)

Have you ever been on a diet that ended unsuccessfully? Plenty of people experience weight loss midway through a diet plan just to find it all come back with a vengeance. It is difficult to maintain weight loss and there is a reason why.

The body works in mysterious ways, and we can’t quite give answers to all the whys. We hear so many stories of people going on a Keto, Atkins or any other specialised diet who lost a lot of weight but could not sustain the diet. Research shows a large percentage of dieters regain all the weight they lost within just one year. Here is what happens.

Here comes the hunger hormone

A hormone called, Ghrelin, also known as the “hunger hormone,” plays a key role in weight management because it signals your brain to eat. It is produced in your stomach and secreted when your stomach is empty. It enters the bloodstream and affects a part of the brain known as the hypothalamus, which governs your hormones and appetite.

The higher your levels, the hungrier you get. The lower your levels, the more full you feel and the easier it is to eat fewer calories.

So it only stands to reason, that lowering the levels of Ghrelin can reduce your hunger and consequently your weight. Let’s first understand why Ghrelin levels rise.

What happens when you go on a diet

Ghrelin levels typically rise before a meal, when your stomach is empty. Then they decrease shortly after, when your stomach is full. This is body’s natural survival instinct to save it from starvation.

During a diet, your appetite increases and your levels of the “fullness hormone” leptin go down. Regardless of how much body fat you have, ghrelin levels increase and make you hungry when you start a diet. Within a day of beginning a diet, your ghrelin levels will start to go up. This change continues over the course of weeks. One study in humans found a 24% increase in ghrelin levels on a 6-month diet.

Your hormones and metabolism adjust to try to re-gain all the weight you lost. Your metabolic rate also tends to decrease significantly, especially when you restrict calories for long periods of time.

How to reduce hunger and Ghrelin

Ghrelin production in the body tends to increase when we operate on extremes. Eating too less triggers the release of this hormone and so does eating less satiating foods that make us feel hungry quickly. Here is what you can do to reduce Ghrelin in your body.

Eat more protein, fibre: A high fibre and protein diet increases fullness and reduces hunger. Foods like hummus, oatmeal, avocado, lentils, fruits and nuts can help you feel full and satisfied.
Maintain a stable weight: Drastic weight changes and yo-yo dieting disrupt key hormones, including ghrelin.
Avoid weight extremes: Both obesity and anorexia alter ghrelin levels Prioritize sleep: Poor sleep increases your levels, and has been linked to increased hunger and weight gain.
Increase muscle mass: Higher amounts of fat-free mass or muscle are associated with lower levelsCycle your calories: Periods of higher calorie intake can reduce hunger hormones and increase leptin. One study found 2 weeks on 29–45% more calories decreased ghrelin levels by 18%

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