Retraining Your Hunger Molecules Helps Lose Weight, Look Younger and Stay Healthy

August 1, 2011 by  
Filed under Diets, featured, Food & Nutrition, Health

Ori Hofmekler is not a name that trips lightly off the tongue, but he is the author of The Warrior Diet and The Anti-Estrogenic Diet, and an expert on how to improve your health with food. His latest advice focuses on the genes that regulate your biological age because they are highly sensitive to your diet, as they’re triggered or inhibited by what you eat, how much you eat, and how often.

One of the most detrimental causes of aging is excessive calorie intake and scientists speculate that we have an overly strong drive to eat when food is readily available – and that has never been more true than today. So you should restrict your calories? Well, no actually because of your individual makeup: you can be on a low calorie diet and fail to lose weight, and you can be on a high calorie diet and yet manage to slim down.

What you do need to do is control your hunger-satiety system which consists of multiple neuro-peptides that act to initiate or terminate your eating. These are your hunger-satiety hormones and their signals are integrated in your brain to modulate how you consume, spend or store energy. The balance between these signals dictates whether your body is in a fat-burning or a fat-storing mode. In order to maintain a healthy body weight, your hunger and satiety signals must continually adjust your food intake to your energy expenditure and any imbalance between these two will affect your fat stores and physical shape.

Your hunger and satiety hormones are constantly seeking precedence over each other and the consequences of that hormonal clash are manifested in your body. Hunger hormones tend to slow your metabolism and increase your body fat whereas satiety hormones tend to boost your metabolism and decrease your body fat. So what this means is that if your hunger hormones get out of control, you’ll be prone to suffer from a sluggish metabolism and excess body fat but if your satiety hormones take over, they will counteract the effects of your hunger hormones to allow you greater energy and a leaner healthier body.

Your hunger hormones are part of your ancient survival apparatus: they keep you alert and give you the drive to search for food along with the desire to achieve. And they balance the actions of your satiety hormones which tend to calm you down. But if you let your hunger hormones get out of control, you’ll experience chronic hunger, diminished energy, metabolic decline, decreased libido and increased tendency to gain weight.

How to manipulate your hunger hormones
You need to know how to manipulate both types of hormones to work for you, and you certainly need to keep your hunger hormones under control. Your hunger-satiety system can only function well as long as your diet is adequate. If your diet is high glycaemic and your feeding episodes are too frequent, your hunger-satiety system will be utterly disrupted.

Frequent consumption of high glycemic meals impairs your key satiety hormones insulin and leptin, leaving your hunger hormones unopposed and dominant. When insulin is impaired ghrelin levels remain elevated even after you have eaten and leads to chronic hunger (mostly for carbohydrates), excess food intake and undesirable weight gain. You need to know how to boost your satiety hormones and let them take control over your metabolism and it could not be simpler:

1. Eat satiety foods
2. Avoid hunger foods
3. Train your body to endure hunger

1 Eat Satiating Foods
This element is what the success of the Atkins and similar diets has been based on as the food that promotes satiety most is protein and the one with the fastest satiety impact is whey protein. Studies reveal that consumption of whey protein before meals can swiftly boost the satiety peptides CCK and GLP-1, which have been shown to decrease food intake and increase weight loss.

Other satiety-promoting foods are low glycemic plant foods including raw nuts, seeds, legumes, roots, cruciferous vegetables, tomatoes, eggplants, grasses and green leafy vegetables.

2 Avoid Hunger Foods
Stay away from high glycaemic foods including all refined carbohydrates, sugars, fructose products, baked goods, sweets and sugary beverages. Fructose in particular has shown to cause leptin resistance, lipid disorders, hypertension, obesity and diabetes. Studies reveal that the liver has a limited capacity to utilize it; so excess fructose is converted into triglycerides and body fat.

The worst combination is that of high sugar and high fat and it has been found that this can cause insulin and leptin resistance even before any change in body composition. You know the usual suspects: biscuits, cakes, ice creams and chocolates need to be removed or seriously restricted.

3 Train Your Body to Endure Hunger
Now this doesn’t sound so good, but hunger should be treated like physical exercise because both are perceived by your body as survival signals to adapt and improve. Allowing yourself to undergo repeated (temporary) hunger, such as in periodic fasting, allows your body to naturally adjust itself by decreasing the number of hunger receptors in your brain and thus making you increasingly resilient to hunger.

Take note that only real hunger can benefit you that way which is what you experience while fasting or undereating, not the kind of craving you can feel even after finishing a meal.
There are different ways to train your body to endure hunger: gradually increase the gap between your meals or alternatively put your body in an undereating state by minimizing your food intake during the day to small, low glycemic, fast assimilating protein meals such as quality whey (every 3-5 hours), which could be served with (or substituted with) small servings of fruits and vegetables and have your main meal at night.

For most of us, undereating is preferable to complete fasting because although it challenges your body in a similar way it allows you to nourish your body with protein and antioxidants, and you won’t feel the desire to eat as intensely as when you completely avoid food. Whichever you choose, it is important not to chronically restrict your calories as your hunger must be acute, not chronic. Treat yourself with sufficient food in your main evening meal to compensate for the energy and nutrients you spend during the day.