While our bodies are meant to function like a well-oiled machine, the truth is there are so many moving parts that it's difficult to have everything working in harmony.
We all have those days - or even weeks - where things just don't feel right and you can tell something's out of whack. The trouble is, unlike the machines and gadgets we buy, our bodies didn't come with an instruction manual explaining how everything works.
Luckily, we humans have learned a lot about our bodies over the years, it’s now common knowledge that hormones play a significant role in how our bodies operate. Hormones are regulatory substances that give signals to your body - more specifically cells, tissues, and organs - about how to behave or react.
But did you know there are hormones that influence your appetite, how much weight you gain, how much you eat, and how you store energy? These are called the hunger hormones.
Hunger hormones are a class of hormones that are often responsible for weight or energy fluctuations, as well as any issues with inconsistent appetites. Though other hormones can influence your weight and appetite, there are four main hunger hormones to concern yourself with: ghrelin, leptin, cortisol, and thyroid hormones.
Since hunger hormones control appetite and energy levels, it’s easy to see why so many people struggle to stay on track with diets and healthy lifestyles. The good news, however, is that it’s possible to control these hunger hormones. When you have your hunger hormones under control, you can finally have your body feeling like the well-oiled machine it’s meant to be.
Here's what we know about hunger hormones and the ways they influence your appetite and hunger:
Think back to the last time you felt your stomach growl. It's a common occurrence, and it's triggered by a hunger hormone called ghrelin. When you're low on stored energy, whether due to fasting or just being hungry, your body produces and releases more ghrelin to let you know that it's time to sit down for your next meal. Ghrelin levels tend to be highest when you need to eat, but they will decrease right after you've had a meal.
Though it's not proven, it's believed that overweight individuals experience very high levels of ghrelin because their brain doesn't notice they’re no longer hungry, even if they’ve just eaten. In fact, studies indicate that ghrelin levels only slightly decrease after overweight people eat a meal. Since the brain doesn't receive a strong signal to stop eating, overeating is common.
Leptin is a hunger hormone that essentially works against ghrelin. This hormone suppresses appetite and lets your body know when it's time to stop eating. Whenever you get that "I'm full" feeling, that's leptin in action. This hormone is secreted by fat cells, letting your body know how much energy you have.
The constant fluctuations of leptin and ghrelin levels is basically a balancing act that controls your appetite. Some dieticians even believe that leptin helps regulate ghrelin levels.
Those who struggle with weight management don't respond to an increase in leptin even though they already have high levels of leptin. It seems as though it's possible to develop a resistance to leptin's ability to suppress appetite. Higher levels of leptin will initially lead to a reduced appetite, but a poor appetite will eventually increase your tolerance and the hormone won’t stop you from feeling hungry.
It's no secret that stress can impact your weight and make it more difficult to achieve weight loss goals. This is largely due to cortisol, the stress hormone, which has a hand in regulating insulin, immunity, and blood pressure. If you are frequently stressed out, your body will combat that by releasing more cortisol and increasing your blood sugar.
As your body breaks down carbohydrate stores to increase your blood sugar levels, your fight or flight response is activated in response to the stressor. However, frequently elevated cortisol levels are likely to result in over-eating and subsequent weight gain.
Though cortisol isn’t directly related to appetite like ghrelin and leptin are, it’s still a hunger hormone and must be regulated. If you’re experiencing frequent high-stress levels, building a self-care regimen is the medicine you need.
TSH, T3, and T4 are all thyroid hormones that directly contribute to weight regulation. Those who suffer from thyroid conditions also often struggle to maintain a healthy weight. A condition like hypothyroidism, for example, causes low levels of thyroid hormones. Lower levels of these hormones lower a person's appetite, consequently slowing metabolism and causing weight gain.
So, now that you know how hunger hormones influence your appetite, how can you use this information to your advantage? Whether you're hoping to achieve a more consistent appetite, boost your energy levels, or maintain a certain weight, there are certain things you can do to keep your hunger hormones balanced:
Sleep is closely connected to ghrelin and cortisol levels. When you get a good night's sleep, your ghrelin levels stay more balanced and your body produces less cortisol. Managing a proper sleep schedule can give you a lot more control over your hunger hormones.
In regards to cortisol, it's also very beneficial to minimize stress. Getting enough rest definitely helps, but we all have stressors that we can't avoid during the day. Indulge in self-care, limit stress factors where possible, and practice stress-relieving behaviors.
Develop a daily or weekly routine that includes exercise to ensure your hunger hormones hover around ideal levels. Regular exercise is known to decrease ghrelin levels and can also boost your body's sensitivity to leptin and insulin.
It can be difficult to keep ghrelin levels low in the hours after a meal, but consuming more protein can help a good deal. As long as you're consuming healthy sources of protein, you'll feel fuller for longer and have higher energy levels.
If you find it difficult to consume enough healthy proteins on a daily basis, consider trying Smart Pressed Juice’s Vegan Vanilla Proteini. Our Proteini gives you the perfect dose of plant proteins on a daily basis, so you can keep your hunger hormones in check more easily than ever before.
There's nothing wrong with enjoying tasty snacks and sugary treats, but high-carbohydrate meals will cause ghrelin levels to increase soon after you eat. You'll get hungry again sooner and that could lead to overeating.
Here’s a trick: When consuming foods containing carbohydrates, flip the package over and take a look at the nutrition fact panel. Take the total number of carbs and divide it by the dietary fiber. If the number is 5 or under, you are looking at a smart choice for clean carbs!
If this is something you struggle with, consider Smart Pressed Juice’s Pineapple Chia Cleanse, which is specifically designed to help cut your cravings for carbohydrates and to make you feel full and satisfied.
For an extra boost of tastiness, try our new Organic Pressed Greens! If you struggle to get the plants your body needs on a daily basis, you'll love this tasty greens juice that fills you with over 20 superfoods.
Maintaining a healthy diet doesn't have to be difficult, and you don't have to drink green juices that taste like grass clippings. Our Organic Pressed Greens feature delicious hints of real pineapple, apple, carrots, and citrus without any added sugar!
For more SMART lifestyle tips like this, visit http://www.smartpressedjuice.com and follow us on Instagram, Twitter, or like us on Facebook. You can also visit our Amazon store to stock up on our delicious juices.