Hunger hormones and appetite
Hormones control many processes in our body, including appetite.
Leptin, “the hormone of energy expenditure”, is found in the fat tissue and is responsible for hunger reduction. It signals the brain that the body has enough nutrients and fats.
The more fat tissue you have, the more leptin is released. Since it is produced while you are sleeping, the lack of sleep lowers the level of leptin.
On the other hand, ghrelin, “the hunger hormone”, makes your appetite run wild. It is released in the stomach and gives the brain a signal: “Famine!”
The level of ghrelin determines how soon you will want to eat again after having a meal.
Studies have shown that a diet high in complex carbohydrates and protein, as well as a sufficient amount of sleep at night, produces adequate levels and balance of these hormones and avoids uncontrolled hunger pangs.
Why might you not feel full while eating?
It is natural for the body to feel hunger a few hours after eating. This way, it signals the need to replenish its energy reserves. However, if you constantly want to eat, you should consult a specialist.
A spike in appetite may be caused by:
- lack of sleep
- consuming too much food rich in fats and simple carbohydrates (fast food, candy), as well as sweet carbonated drinks
- medications (antihistamines, antidepressants, steroids, some drugs for diabetes, antipsychotics)
- low blood sugar in the case of hepatitis, renal, or adrenal failure
- diabetes (While blood sugar level is increased, its delivery to cells is inhibited due to lack of insulin, and the cells don’t get enough nutrients.)
How to avoid overeating
If you want to keep fit, the most important thing is to maintain an energy balance, consuming as many calories as you burn.
If you want to deal with increased appetite, adhering to strict diets may be difficult and may lead to eating disorders. Extreme weight loss measures are dangerous.
Follow these recommendations to lose extra pounds:
- eat 3–4 times a day
- follow a balanced diet (Compare the diet consisting of 1–2 products (the mono diet), and the diet that includes fish, vegetables, and grains. At the same caloric value they can have different effects on the body.)
This will give you a feeling of lightness and eliminate constant hunger.
Even though it has been proven that the quality of food and the amount of nutrients is ultimately more important than the frequency of meals and the volume of portions, you can keep a healthy metabolism and avoid unplanned snacking if you eat every 3-4 hours, focusing on the feeling of hunger.
Constant hunger may indicate that the body lacks certain nutrients and vitamins.
You can fix this by including complex carbohydrates, proteins, vegetables, and fruit in your diet.
How to cope with overeating?
The habit of overeating is often caused by chronic stress, lack of sleep, and changes in hormonal levels (for example, before menstruation).
Even if there are healthy foods on your plate, large quantities will give you a surplus of calories at the end of the day, which can cause weight gain.
These simple rules will help you keep your food habits under control:
- Do not let strong hunger occur. Determine the optimal number of meals for you. The more often you eat, the smaller the portions should be. The optimal number of meals is three or four.
- Drink a glass of water 20 minutes before eating, and every time your stomach growls at an inopportune time. Often, thirst causes false hunger.
- Be sure to include in your diet a sufficient amount of protein and fiber.
- Chew your food slowly. Do not get distracted by a TV, a phone, or a book. It can make you eat much more than you planned.
How can exercise help you cope with increased appetite?
Increased appetite and overeating is a normal response of your body to try to raise serotonin and lower cortisol levels.
Scientists recommend substituting an unscheduled meal with physical activity, such as swimming or running.
For optimal benefits, experts recommend 30 minutes of exercise, 4 to 6 times per week. However, even a quick 10-minute walk can deter cravings.
Flo can help you track appetite and physical activities!
Log changes in your appetite, steps, and other physical activity in our app to detect patterns and learn to predict these changes in the future!
Snacks to lose weight are real!
Planning healthy snacks will help you avoid binge eating. Snacking prevents strong hunger between meals and helps to maintain your blood sugar levels.
Sharp sugar surges can trigger type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, and obesity. It makes you eat more than your body really needs.
Do not snack right before the main meal. Make sure your increased appetite is true. Don’t eat because you are bored.
Studies show that having 3–4 meals a day allows you to control your weight easier.
Properly selected snacks will help you balance your diet better. For these purposes choose a vegetable salad, not very sweet fruit, high-quality plain yogurts, and nuts.
Keeping your appetite tamed, especially with some of the risk factors mentioned above, is not easy. But if it becomes a matter of health, you have to do everything you can to stop overeating. And if you find it too difficult or face the complications you cannot fight, consult a doctor.