A person’s weight is controlled by his or her hormones.
Can you fix those hormones that control your weight? Well, science says “yes.” In this article, we discuss some proven ways to fix those hormones that control your weight.
Your pancreas produces insulin. The beta cells of your pancreas secrete this hormone in small amounts throughout the day. The hormone is secreted in larger amounts after meals.
Insulin enhances the uptake of blood sugar by your body cells. The sugar can then be used for energy or stored depending on the requirement at the time.
Insulin also serves as the major fat storage hormone in the human body. It signals fat cells to store fat and also prevents the breakdown of fat that has been stored.
If body cells develop insulin resistance, both insulin and blood sugar levels will increase drastically.
So, how can you normalize your insulin levels and boost your insulin sensitivity? Here’s how:
- Minimize your sugar intake or avoid it completely: high consumption of sucrose and fructose causes a drastic increase in insulin levels, and also promotes insulin resistance (10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15).
- Reduce your carb intake: Taking a low-carb diet can cause a drastic fall in your insulin levels (16, 17, 18, 19).
- Eat more protein: Proteins can cause a short-term rise in insulin levels. But then, it could also lead to long-term reductions in insulin resistance. This it does by enhancing the loss of belly fat (20, 21).
- Add more healthy fats to your diet: Fatty fish contain omega-3 fats. These fats can reduce the levels of fasting insulin (22).
- Regular exercise helps: Studies have shown that overweight women who walk briskly for 14 weeks had improved insulin sensitivity (23, 24, 25).
- Get adequate magnesium: People who are resistant to insulin usually have low magnesium levels. However, this can be improved by taking the right magnesium supplements (26, 27, 28).
- Green tea: Studies have shown that green tea lowers insulin and blood sugar levels (29, 30).
The hormone leptin is produced by fat cells in the body.
Leptin acts as a “satiety” hormone. This means that it reduces your appetite and makes you feel full faster.
Leptin also works as a signaling hormone by sending signals to the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is the part of the brain that regulates food intake and appetite.
Leptin signals and informs your brain that you have enough fat in storage, and so there’s no need for more. This information is what helps you to not overeat.
Obese or overweight people have a lot of leptin in their blood. A particular study found that obese people had 4 times more leptin than people with normal weight (31).
If leptin can control appetite, then logically, people who are obese should be able to eat less and lose weight.
However, the leptin system malfunctions in obese people. It doesn’t work the way it should – and this condition is known as leptin resistance.
Thus, your brain assumes that your body is starving, and so it pushes you to keep on eating.
Weight loss also causes a reduction of leptin levels, which is the major reason why long-term maintenance of weight loss is hard. The brain assumes that you are starving, and so triggers more intake of food (34, 35, 36).
The following tips can help to improve insulin sensitivity:
- Avoid inflammatory foods: Foods in this category include trans fats and sugary drinks.
- Increase your intake of anti-inflammatory foods like fatty fish (42).
- Regular exercise helps: Engaging in moderate exercise can boost insulin sensitivity (43, 44, 45).
- Get adequate sleep: According to some research, insufficient sleep cuts down on insulin levels and increases appetite (46, 47).
- Supplements: In a particular study, women who were placed on a weight loss diet lost a great deal of weight, and had a smaller decrease in leptin compared to the control group (48).
Another name for ghrelin is the “hunger hormone.” Ghrelin is released by your stomach whenever it is empty. The ghrelin then sends a signal to your hypothalamus informing you that you have to eat (49).
In normal circumstances, ghrelin is always at very high levels before eating, and at very low levels about an hour after meals.
Results from several studies have also shown that ghrelin levels in obese people decrease slightly after a meal. As such, the satiety signals sent to the hypothalamus aren’t as strong as they should be, thus resulting in overeating (52).
The following tips can help to improve ghrelin function:
- Avoid sugary drinks or high-fructose corn syrup. Both substances can impair post-meal ghrelin response (53, 54).
- It is also important that you eat more protein, especially at breakfast. Protein intake can reduce ghrelin levels and boost satiety (55, 56, 57, 58).
The hormone cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands.
Cortisol is known as a stress hormone because it is released under stressful conditions.
Cortisol is vital to survival. But it is also important to note that high levels of cortisol can cause overeating and weight gain (59).
But then, a strict diet can also cause an increase in cortisol levels. In a particular study, women who ate a low-calorie diet had higher cortisol levels and experienced more stress than those who took a normal diet (62).
With the following strategies, you can reduce your cortisol levels:
- Eat a balanced diet. Avoid cutting calories to very low levels.
- Practice meditation. It can cause a significant reduction in cortisol production (63).
- Listening to music also helps. According to research, soothing music causes a very little rise in cortisol levels (64, 65).
- Get adequate sleep. According to research, pilots who lost 15 hours of sleep over a week had a 50-80% increase in their cortisol levels (66).
It is important to note that hormones work together to decrease or increase fat storage and appetite.
If the system isn’t working as it should, you may have persistent weight problems. The good news is that lifestyle and diet changes can have very potent effects on these hormones.