Hunger Hormones – Keeping Your Ghrelin Levels in Check
We have all experienced a growling stomach prior to meal time. When our stomach is empty, the hormone ghrelin, also known as the “hunger hormone”, is released. This signals to the body that we are hungry, and it’s time to eat!
In order to keep our hunger levels in check, it’s important to keep our ghrelin levels low during the day. There is a variety of factors that comes into play which can raise our ghrelin levels. For example, consuming high-fat, greasy foods, drinking alcohol or not consuming enough calories can adversely affect the correct brain and body response to our hunger hormones.
Steps To Keeping Your Ghrelin ‘Gremlin’ Under Control
We’ve all heard at some point in our lives that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It is repeated often enough, because it is true! Eating breakfast helps regulate our metabolism, and not just in the morning; it sets the stage for the entire day.
Studies show individuals who enjoyed a higher-calorie breakfast ended up producing approximately 33% less ghrelin during the day and also felt satisfied for a longer period of time.
Insulin levels and ghrelin levels work together, and because they do, it’s wise to choose complex carbohydrates over high-GI (glycemic index) simple carbs. Making these choices ensures that you get more nutritional benefit and will feel fuller longer. Insulin levels rise after eating, and ghrelin levels decrease.
However, when you consume simple carbohydrates, such as white pasta, white bread or other refined carbohydrates, your blood sugar levels spike! When this occurs, the body responds by releasing a surge of insulin to protect you from the excess sugar in your bloodstream. Once the insulin has efficiently stored that excess sugar (as body fat), low blood sugar re-occurs. This triggers your hunger hormones once again.
Your metabolism can greatly suffer from numerous blood sugar swings from high to low. This is one of the main reasons it’s vital to consume complex carbohydrates, protein and fiber. By keeping insulin levels stable, you delay the release of sugar into the bloodstream and this process allows you to feel full longer.
Within our body, ghrelin levels remain elevated until food stretches the stomach wall and initiates a feeling of fullness. By choosing high-volume foods that are low-calorie, you can help reduce your ghrelin levels before you’ve overeaten. Soups, salads, veggies, watermelon and any foods with high water content are options for wise, high-volume, low-calorie choices.
Irregular mealtimes will also cause ghrelin highs and lows. If we make sure to follow a schedule for meals, spikes in ghrelin can be reduced.
Try keeping a bag of nuts such as almonds in your car, purse or gym bag to get you by when you are out and about. This will deliver a high protein snack that can keep you satisfied until you can return home and enjoy a proper meal. Choosing protein rich foods additionally helps keep your ghrelin gremlin in check. This is due to the long-lasting feeling of fullness that protein provides.
Another easy way to add protein to your diet is to add a protein powder to a smoothie. Make sure your smoothie is a healthy one and not a sugar-laden smoothie that you want to think is healthy but is really giving you a glycemic bump!
Helping You Live Healthier in a Major Way!
Cheryl A Major, CNWC