Beyond Will Power

Brain and gut hormones impact eating behavior and weight loss efforts.

Many people who have struggled to lose weight and keep it off suspect there’s more to it than simply eating less and exercising more. The fact that two-thirds of adults in the United States are overweight or obese suggest it’s a more complex situation.

One component of the complexity is the influence of appetite hormones. During the past few decades, researchers have identified numerous hormones that play a role in overall appetite control. In the overweight and obese, resistance to certain satiety hormones can develop, so these people really may be experiencing more hunger physiologically.

Practitioners who understand how gut and brain hormones impact eating can help clients navigate the pitfalls encountered in weight control attempts.  I will highlight a few and their effect on appetite.

Leptin- regulates energy metabolism and decreases food intake

Ghrelin- Triggers hunger, induces fat production, increases cravings for sweets and fatty foods and decreases insulin production

Insulin- Stimulates fat and glycogen synthesis and storage and decreases blood sugar

GLP(glucagon-like peptide-1- suppresses appetite and slows gastric emptying

You will continue to struggle with weight loss until you can stabilize the hormones that affect appetite and metabolism of fats and carbohydrates.   Here are a few tips:

  • Eat on a regular schedule and avoid eating most of your calories in the evening
  • Eat a high protein breakfast- at least 25g
  • Eat a mix of protein, carbohydrates and fats- DO NOT consume one macronutrient source such as pasta for dinner or a bagel for breakfast
  • Consume Omega 3 fats
  • Get adequate sleep-sleep is crucial for hormonal balance and weight loss
  • Commit to regular exercise
  • Limit carbohydrates such as pasta, rice, sweets, and avoid all foods that contain high fructose corn syrup