If you’re concerned about your weight and your ability to manage it, you’re not alone. Gallup has reported that only 18% of Americans are at their ideal weight and that two-thirds of overweight Americans want to lose pounds. However, less than half say they are taking action toward the problem – it seems to be a sticking point for many.
Sensible exercise is a primary ingredient in every weight management regimen. But there are additional things you can do to help manage weight whether you’re working out or just struggling to talk yourself into it. There are aspects of your metabolic health that can be supported by measures above and beyond exercise alone – specifically, the maintenance of healthy levels of the right hormones that help manage weight.
Hormones are the chemical communications agents that enable our cells to communicate and our bodily functions to operate in sync. Because hormones are part of the infrastructure of how our bodies work, hormones naturally affect metabolism, hunger, and other key factors in weight management. In this way, hormones affect our body weight.
Which hormones are actually helpful in managing weight? Several hormones provide weight management benefits in a variety of way – some curbing appetite and others increasing metabolism to burn more calories more efficiently. This article discusses six key hormones that most powerfully catalyze weight management – these are the hormones you’ll want to monitor and possibly supplements if you want to lose weight at the most efficient pace possible.
Insulin is a hormone excreted by the pancreas throughout the day, increasing after food intake. Insulin’s purpose is to support metabolism by reacting to food intake. However, foods that spike insulin higher tend to reduce fat burning. To catalyze the burning of as much fat as possible, keep insulin levels lower by eating fewer carbohydrates and drinking plenty of water.
For many years, doctors have known that people with smaller waists and lower body weights have higher levels of adiponectin. However, it was unclear which was causing which – did adiponectin drop the weight? Or did the leanness raise adiponectin levels? Scientists are inching closer to that answer and it appears that the hormone can actually catalyze higher metabolic rates, meaning that the hormone may be among the causes of the well-managed lean, healthy weight.
Leptin, a fat hormone, has been studied to catalyze weight loss by reducing hunger pangs and curbing appetite, leading to reduced caloric intake and weight loss. The balancing of hormones that cause hunger sensations effortlessly catalyzes weight control simply by reducing hunger (and thereby, overeating).
Like leptin, ghrelin is a hormone known to control hunger and appetite. Ghrelin’s main function is to increase hunger, so lower levels of ghrelin are better for those wishing to lose weight. Ironically, dieting has been shown to increase ghrelin levels, making it harder to resist overeating. To avoid this pitfall, eat smaller meals more often, ensuring that your stomach is rarely full empty (which is when ghrelin production is triggered).
Cortisol is the stress hormone. While cortisone is not known to directly affect metabolism or appetite, cortisol produces stress which is a leading cause of overeating. This makes cortisol a hormone to balance and monitor in those wishing to shed extra pounds.
Neuropeptide Y (NPY)
Cells in the brain and central nervous system produce a hormone called NPY or neuropeptide-Y, an agent of pure temptation. NPY not only increases your appetite – it specifically tempts you to potato chips, cookies, pasta, and other carbohydrates! (Why can’t there be a hormone that makes us crave kale, zucchini, and other healthy foods?!) To keep your NPY low, eat more protein, take smaller meals more often, and get plenty of fiber.
Glucagon-Like Peptide-1 (GLP1)
GLP1 is produced in the gut as soon as food begins to enter into the intestine. Its purpose is to tell you that you’re full. If you’ve ever heard the advice to “eat slowly because it takes twenty minutes for your brain to register that you’re full”, that truth is a function of GLP1, which acts not when food enters the stomach but when it reaches the intestine a little further down. High protein foods and leafy greens tend to keep GLP1 a little higher where you want it.
Much like GLP1, cholecystokinin produces a feeling of satiety, or fullness. Higher levels of CCK have been shown to reduce caloric intake in both lean and obese people. To keep your CCK levels up, get plenty of protein, olive oil, and fiber.
Peptide YY (PYY)
Further long in the intestines and in the colon, another hormone continues to produce that feeling of satiety – PYY or peptide YY. In much the same way as CCK And GLP1, PYY continues the effect even as digestive matter reaches the colon. And you can help elevate your PYY in the same ways as before – more protein and fiber, combined with fewer carbs.
There’s a lot to think about – we get it. If you have questions about weight management or hormones as tools for weight loss, connecting with a doctor in a discrete setting has never been easier.
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