We all need food to survive. Not just for energy, but for the numerous other jobs our bodies have to undertake every second of the day.
Our bodies are complicated so it should come as no surprise that we have a complex system to control our food intake, which is driven by our hormones.
When we lose weight our hormone levels will change, which is often why it is so easy to regain the lost weight.
So how can we control our hormones to help give us the best chance of losing weight? First we would need to look at what our hormones do.
What is the hypothalamus?
The hypothalamus is a gland found within your brain that controls a variety of your bodies processes including:
- Hunger and thirst
- Body temperature
- Sexual behaviour and reproduction
The hypothalamus produces a variety of proteins that either promote or inhibit hunger, depending on the signals sent to it by your gut, your fat and the pancreas.
What are some common hormones?
There are a number of hormones found within your body that can affect your hunger:
1. Ghrelin is made in your stomach and can stimulate hunger when it is sent to your hypothalamus.
When your stomach empties, more ghrelin in produced. This production decreases as your stomach fills.
2. Insulin-like peptide 5 (ILP-5) has also been shown to stimulate hunger.
3. Cholecystokinin (CCK) is produced in the upper small colon when food is present, which helps to give a feeling of fullness.
4. Peptide YY, glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), oxyntomodulin and uroguanilin have all been shown to help make us feel full.
5. Leptin is made from fat cells and is the most powerful appetite suppressing hormone. The more fat cells present the more leptin is produced.
6. Amylin, insulin and pancreatic polypeptide have all been shown to inhibit hunger.
There are also other hormones that can influence our eating behaviours, both for the better and for the worst. These include dopamine, endocannabinoids and serotonin.
How do our hormones change when we lose weight?
Research has shown that when we lose weight our hormones will change to try to promote weight gain.
For example, leptin levels have been shown to drop, while ghrelin increases, which will result in hunger cravings.
Of course if you give into these cravings then the weight lost will quickly return.
However, if you stick to your plan then your hormones will begin to normalise once more and you should be able to maintain your weight.