Are you one of those people who are constantly hungry?
Do you finish one meal and immediately begin to think about, or plan your next meal?
And does being hungry all the time make you think that something is wrong with you? Your metabolism? Or your physiology?
First off, it is important to understand WHY you are hungry in the first place. Are you experiencing true physiological hunger or is your body tell you that you are tired, stressed, bored or dehydrated? Another possibility is you have created imbalances with your hunger/satiety hormones – leptin and ghrelin.
When you eat, the fat cells in your body secrete a hormone called leptin. Increasing leptin levels reduce your desire and motivation to continue eating. Within a few hours post meal, your leptin levels drop and this drop stimulates the release of a different hormone called ghrelin. Ghrelin is secreted by your stomach and pancreas and makes you feel hungry. This sounds like a pretty awesome system right? Well, it is, until it’s not!
One reason, a lot of my clients have difficulty controlling their appetite or stopping after they’ve eaten enough is that they’re leptin resistant. Leptin resistance is a vicious cycle that you must end. Overeating (hello college/university, and pregnancy, and Thanksgiving, and Christmas!) causes hyperleptinemia, meaning more and more leptin is being secreted by your fat cells. Eventually leptins signal becomes less and less effective in controlling appetite (much like in a diabetic insulin becomes less and less effective). What has actually happened is you have ate yourself into a chronically insatiable appetite. Interestingly, another cause of leptin resistance is chronically low caloric intake. If you have ever been on a diet, or yo-yo dieted you have likely messed up your hormone levels.
If leptin is doing its job and your cells respond appropriately, the satiety signals in your brain are immediately triggered and you stop feeling hungry. But when you become more leptin resistant you also become more ghrelin sensitive, so when hungry hits, it hits hard and fast. Think of ghrelin as that sneaky little furball critter than sneaks into your brain making you crave high carb and high-fat foods. Before I fixed my hormone imbalances that critter even could hijack my body and drive me to the nearest pizza or donut shop. Or at least that’s what it felt like at the time.
In addition to spending too much time eating, other lifestlye factors such as lack of sleep, too much stress, and eating “hyperpalatable foods” such as processed and packaged foods can contriubte to these hormone imbalnaes.
So how do we fix this?
First recgonzie that appetite is normal. It keeps us alive and our species reproducing. But if htere is no need for physiological hunger, and you have ample stored energy (from food or fat) than theres probably something wrong if you are constantly hungry and here is what I would recommened you do
1. Resensitize your body to leptins signals.
- Avoid ALL fructose: this is a real trigger for leptin resistnace.
- Exercise but avoid chronic cardio: do resistance training and short HIIT
- Control stress! My favorite way to do this is to start my day by filling out this journal.
- Get cold: cold exposure has actually been shown to improve leptin sensitivity. Consider a 2-5 minute cold shower, or alternating between hot and cold (1 min hot, 30 seconds cold). Always end your shower on cold.
- Stay consistent with these recommendations for 4-6 weeks.
2. Avoid foods that trigger hunger
- Keep sweets and snacks out of the house ie Halloween Candy.
- Put food away. Dont leave it out on the counter to look at it each time you walk by.
- Avoid high carb and high glycemic index foods. These will cause a hunger spike very shortly after a meal, especially if not combined with protein & fat.
- Try to purchase single serving items and only purchase what you need.
- Avoid hyper palatable foods meaning foods with multiple very strong flavors. For example Chicago style popcorn the cheesy, salty, sweet is the absolute worst thing you can do for your leptin levels.
3. Track your foods to create awareness.
- Use free food trackers like My Ftiness Pal. You need to know what you are putting into your body. Track every day and everything not just when you eat clean.
- Dont go crazy on nuts/seeds. Portion control is key. You can overdo “healthy foods”.
- Count your snacks and don’t overdo them.
- Make your own food. Many fast foods and restaurant foods are loaded with extr calories, salt, and sugar.
- Do not underconsume calories. There is research to support restricting calories actually can cause fat gain.
I hope this information was helping and I would love to read your thoughts and comment so post them below! If you are interested in learning more and getting help with resetting your leptin, my next Introductory to the Wild Side program begins Monday, November 13th. This is the FINAL CALL for that program. To learn more and register, click here.