Harness your brain chemistry for weight loss.
Get control of your appetite.
Have you ever wondered how your body controls your weight? How your body knows when to eat and when to stop eating? What happens inside the body to tell you that you are hungry or full?
The answer to each of these questions is your appetite control system, which is a complex set of chemical interactions among your brain, nervous system, metabolic hormones, special fat cells and immune system. Think of it as the gut-brain-fat cell connection.
Appetite control is as tightly regulated as your heartbeat or breathing. Imagine the effects of eating just 100 extra calories a day over the course of a year. Every 3,500 calories is equal to one pound of fat. Over the course of a year the average person eats 900,000 calories. If you exceed your needs by just 2 percent, or 18,000 calories, you would gain five pounds by the end of the year. The average person gains 10kgs between the ages of 25-55. One of the main reasons people gain this extra weight is that their appetite control system is out of balance. The chemical interactions among the various systems in the body that tell them when they are hungry have been disrupted.
Understanding the Biology of your appetite
The nervous system has two components. The first, or sympathetic, part is triggered under stressful conditions and makes you gain weight. The second is the parasympathetic part which relaxes and calms you and helps you lose weight. The nervous system plays a large role in weight management.
Weight control hormones. Metabolic hormones, including the hormones and molecules made by your fat cells. When your stomach is empty, it secretes hormones that tell your body and brain you are hungry. Your brain then prepares the stomach to receive something. You even begin to secrete insulin just thinking about food. When you eat, the food enters the gut and releases yet more hormones, preparing for digestion. As the food makes its way into your bloodstream, more messages coordinate your metabolism, telling your pancreas to produce insulin.
Your fat cells in turn send hormonal messages back to your brain to stop eating, along with signals from your stomach that you are full. Your liver then processes fat and sugar and helps coordinate storage and burning.
This entire process occurs invisibly without the slightest awareness on your part. When this process of communication is out of balance, it wreaks havoc on your system. You get hungry after you have just eaten, you store fat when you should burn it, your body starts ignoring the normal control signals for appetite and metabolism, and the result is weight gain and disease.
You can directly influence the complex melodies of your hormonal system by taking the following steps:
Compose the perfect meals
The single most important thing to keep in mind when you are building your personal menus is to include as many real, whole, unprocessed foods in your diet as possible.
Eat real food.
- Whole fruit, not canned fruit or fruit juices
- Whole vegetables
- Whole grains, not processed wheat
- Nuts, seeds and legumes or beans, not fried or salted
- Eat the right Fat.
Fat provides a healthy satisfying, slowly absorbed energy that makes you full faster and keeps you feeling full longer. It doesn’t trigger a big surge of insulin in the body, as refined sugar and carbohydrates do. Some key fats enter cells and communicate with your DNA to turn on special genes that help you increase far burning, improve your blood sugar control, correct insulin resistance, and reduce inflammation.
Healthy sources of fat:
Olive oil, avocado, nuts, coconut oil and fish oil.
Balance your Glycemic Load
Over the years many different terms have been used to describe carbohydrates. The terms have changed so much that most consumers and even most doctors are confused by them. You’ve probably heard many of them: simple carbs, complex carbs, starches, sugar, and glycemic index…the list seems to go on and on. However, there is only one meaningful definition that has emerged from all the research: glycemic load. Glycemic load measures the real response of your blood sugar (and hence your insulin level) to an entire meal.
Eating meals that have a high glycemic load means that the combination of foods that you eat will cause all the carbohydrates in the meal to be absorbed very rapidly and raise your blood sugar just as rapidly.
Consider the typical pasta dinner: spaghetti with tomato sauce, garlic bread, and a lettuce side salad. As delicious as this meal may sound, it is really not that good for you if you want to lose weight or stay healthy. This meal is heavy in carbs that turn into sugar in your body immediately.
Eating white bread along with pasta is like adding a tablespoon of sugar to a coke.
Eat early and often
Not only is the composition of the meal you eat critical, but when you eat and how often you eat are essential in regulating your weight. Studies have shown that eating regular meals throughout the day, grazing verses gorging and not skipping meals improve your chances of losing weight and reduce many risk factors for heart disease, diabetes, and aging in general.
The old proverb “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and supper like a pauper” now has some scientific muscle behind it. Not eating breakfast means you will eat more the rest of the day. If you eat empty calories from refined foods (such as scones and sweet pastries) and sugars, you will tend to eat more overall. While eating breakfast itself is good, a healthy breakfast (one that is slowly absorbed, such as a real meal containing protein-in the form of eggs, nut butters, a protein shake, or whole grains ,such as porridge, with nuts ) is even better and perhaps more efficient in preventing metabolic fluctuations later in the day.
Don’t eat just before bed
Eating before bed is a guaranteed way to slow your metabolism and gain weight. The solution is simple: eat dinner earlier and try not to go to bed for a least two to three hours after you eat. When you are asleep, all the hormone and messenger molecules that control your metabolism promote healing, repair and growth. Also try to eat lightly at dinner. Getting more of your energy needs in earlier in the day helps you lose and maintain weight loss. If you really want to prevent that slowdown at night, take a short stroll after dinner, it helps reduce your blood sugar and boost your metabolism.
Avoid foods that send your appetite out of control:
- Hydrogenated oils margarine, cooking oil, crackers, crisps, cakes, sweets, biscuits, peanut butter and processed cheese.
- Refined vegetable oils, corn, soya, safflower and vegetable oil. Sugars
- Artificial sweeteners
- Flour products
- Refined grains
- Junk food
- Processed foods
Supplements can be used to control your appetite and balance your brain-fat-gut cell communication. I have listed below some suggestions, if you have queries contact me.
- Green Tea
- Alpha-lipoic acid, a powerful antioxidant that improves glucose metabolism.
- Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) found in evening primrose oil
- Acetyl L-carnitine, this is another important amino acid that helps transport fat into the mitochondria for burning.
Your appetite control system is governed by a complex set of interactions between your gut, fat, and brain cells. You can gain some control over it using some of the ideas mentioned in this article.