Losing weight is not an easy task for many people. Regardless of which diet or meal plan they try, some individuals seem to have a life-long struggle when it comes to their body weight. Did you know that your hormones may be influencing you on your weight loss journey?
For example, we all have a hormone called “Ghrelin” in our bodies. This hormone is naturally produced and it could be one of the main reasons you are over eating and continually gaining weight. The secret to keeping this 28 amino acid hunger-stimulating peptide and hormone (and your waistline) satisfied is by eating tiny meals throughout the day.
Eating tiny meals serves two purposes:
- You will consume fewer calories compared with eating large meals;
- Keeping stomach size smaller.
I have written a few times already about maintaining calories deficit. That’s one of the most important part of weight loss. However, we shouldn’t underestimate the importance of the stomach size. Think of gastric bypass surgery which creates smaller stomach pouch to restrict the amount of food (calories) intake and construction of bypasses that decrease ability to absorb calories from food. When you eat smaller portions of food, you are not stretching your stomach unnecessarily and, as a result, you feel fuller faster.
Many of us are living such a hectic lifestyle that we skip breakfast in the morning and run off to school or work. Missing breakfast is one of the worst things you can do for your metabolism. Your body is naturally in a fasting state after waking from a night’s rest. The word breakfast actually means ‘break-fast’ and it is important to break your fast with a nutritious breakfast in order to feed your body energy for the day and rev up your metabolism.
If we skip meals, our metabolism slows down to hold onto as many calories as it can as the body is aware no food is coming in. This is the opposite of what you want to happen when you are trying to lose weight. The Ghrelin hormone needs to be satisfied on a regular basis throughout the day to stay in balance. Therefore, if you are skipping meals, you may be prone to overeating as this hormone does not feel satisfied. Not only have you lowered your metabolism with prolonged meal skipping, you also get into a yo-yo effect of not being able to satisfy the Ghrelin hormone in your body.
It is believed that our body has Ghrelin receptors located in a variety of tissues including: the stomach, thyroid, pituitary, intestine, heart and pancreas. Having receptors in so many different locations suggests that this important hormone has numerous biological functions. Ghrelin is mainly produced in our large and small intestines. It can however, also be secreted by other parts of the body.
Studies show that Ghrelin levels decrease after meals and increase before meals. Ghrelin is considered to be the hormone Leptin’s counterpart. Leptin is produced by adipose tissue in our body and is responsible for inducing satiation when present at higher levels, triggering a feeling of “fullness”.
Ghrelin has been identified as the first circulating hunger hormone and is the only currently known appetite enhancing hormone.
The best thing you can do to try and maximize your body’s weight loss strategy is to eat small and frequent meals throughout the day. Many of us grew up with the “3 square meals a day” ingrained into us, but science is showing us that our bodies and our hormones seems to be happier with 5-6 smaller meals a day as long as our calories in do not exceed our calories expended.