A common issue that many people, including those in Rochester, NY, struggle with when starting a new diet is hunger. You may think “of course I’m hungry, I'm eating less and my body is not used to that.” The reason is actually a little more complicated. Changes in a hormone called Leptin are responsible for your hunger urges when you begin to diet.
Leptin is a hormone that is produced by adipose cells (fat cells). This hormone is a regulator for your body's energy expenditure. This tells your brain whether or not you are starving. If you are eating in a caloric deficit, you will start to burn fat for energy. This means there are less adipose cells producing leptin, and the leptin level in your body will drop. The brain senses this as starvation and makes you feel hungry. As a person loses weight over time, the body will adapt to the new leptin levels and the excessive hunger should stop. The challenge arises because this adaptation process takes time and the feeling of hunger is difficult to ignore.
One of the ideas for weight loss was supplementation of synthetic leptin. The hypothesis behind this was that if we increase leptin in patients who need to lose weight, they should not feel the hunger that comes with a reduced caloric diet. Studies were finding this to not be the case. Further research found that obesity actually caused leptin resistance in the brain. This means that no matter how much leptin is produced or supplemented, the hunger signal may never turn off.
So how do you prevent hunger? Regular exercise may be the key to keeping those hunger cravings under control. Research has shown that groups who diet and exercise have significantly less hunger cravings when compared to groups who diet alone. This is due to two factors. Exercise has been shown to decrease Leptin resistance and increase the brain's sensitivity to the hormone. Exercise also induces acute stress. While chronic stress can increase hunger and cravings, acute stress has been shown to decrease hunger by releasing a large amount of cortisol into the bloodstream. This causes adipose tissue to naturally release more Leptin.
Being on a diet doesn’t mean you should be hungry all the time. If you are having issues with hunger while trying to lose weight, your problem may be in timing your exercise and eating. Here at Rush-Henrietta Family Chiropractic, your Rochester chiropractor, our nutritionist can help you create a plan to time exercise and meals to prevent excessive hunger cravings. Give us a call to schedule a free consultation!