How Ghrelin Affects Weight Loss
You may have heard of various hormones that affect your ability to lose weight, and ghrelin is probably one of them. It is important to know how ghrelin affects weight loss, because it could be a huge factor in whether or not you are able to stay on a weight loss diet that is effective.
What Is Ghrelin?
It is a hormone that, in part, affects hunger. Simply stated, if levels of ghrelin are high, then hunger in stimulated, and if levels are low, then hunger is suppressed.
How Ghrelin Affects Weight Loss
When you restrict calories too much, it can have a negative impact on the ability to lose weight. Ghrelin levels can rise, which means that hunger becomes an issue and willpower needs to be kicked into high gear in order to avoid eating. This is why most people fail at their diet.
Moreover, when you are finished dieting, ghrelin levels can increase, which explains why weight loss is so hard to maintain.
“…ghrelin levels have been found to increase in children with anorexia and decrease in children who are obese.” – WebMD
The problem is that a calorie deficit in needed in order to lose weight, so how is that possible when ghrelin levels play such a critical role in your ability to avoid eating out of hunger? The answer rests in changing the food you eat, and when you eat. Change will help balance out your ghrelin levels.
In fact, the primary way to control ghrelin levels is through food intake. Eating the right foods can reduce the amount of ghrelin in the body.
Things you can do include:
- Reducing the amount of calories you eat, but not in a drastic way. If you severely reduce calorie levels, your ghrelin levels will increase.
- Eat filling foods with less calories. This will help you feel more satisfied without the calorie overload.
- Eat high fiber foods that are connected with the feeling of fullness.
- Eat about every 4 hours. Experts say that ghrelin is produced and secreted about every four hours, so to keep the levels low, you need to have a meal during these times.
- Eating various nutrients, such as carbohydrates and proteins, can help to slow down the ghrelin release. Therefore, ensure to include them in your meals.
Besides food, your response to the food you eat may trigger the amount of ghrelin levels in the body. In one study, participants were broken up into two groups and each given a milkshake. One group was given a milkshake that contained 380 calories, but they were told it was an ‘indulgent’ shake. The other group was given a shake termed ‘sensible’ and it was a 140 calorie shake. The group that thought their milkshake was indulgent, produced a steeper decline in their amount of ghrelin levels when they were done the milkshake. The group that got the sensible shake, however, did not have much change in the ghrelin response.
Knowing this, it is important to eat foods that make you good. When you eat foods that make you feel as though you are being deprived, your ghrelin levels may not be affected, leaving you with a feeling of hunger even after you ate.
Lastly, reducing stress can help lower ghrelin production, as stress is associated with high ghrelin production.