Taste For Life proudly hosts blogs from some of the top nutritionists and life coaches in the country. Opinions expressed by the author are their own, and do not necessarily represent those of Taste For Life or its editorial staff. For questions about this blog or its content, please contact Ann Louise Gittleman, Ph.D., C.N.S..
When it comes to hunger and tummy fat, your hormones are key.
Similar to how the thyroid hormone controls metabolism and insulin is driven by excess carbohydrates, hunger and stress hormones affect your appetite and belly. By resetting hormones, you will effortlessly increase insulin sensitivity, stabilize blood sugar levels, reduce that fight or flight urge, and preserve more lean muscle mass while you fast track your weight loss.
Love that Leptin
Leptin is a long-term chemical messenger for your appetite. If you never feel quite satisfied after a meal, then your leptin is too low and somewhere out in left field. High leptin levels are the ticket to speedy slimming and when this hormone is signaling correctly, it should actually decrease your appetite.
As a key appetite hormone, it would stand to reason that levels of leptin should be lower when you’re thin and higher when you’re overweight. So, you would think that overweight people would have less of an appetite, but this isn’t how it seems to work. People who are overweight and have high leptin levels somehow don’t get the signal to stop eating and stop storing fat. They develop a condition called leptin resistance, which is similar to insulin resistance where the body is no longer sensitive to the appetite-decreasing effects of leptin.
Both leptin and insulin resistance are triggered by an excess of refined carbs, sugar—especially fructose (fruit sugar)—and not enough exercise or sleep and too much stress. Leptin resistance, however, is especially frustrating when it comes to long-lasting fat loss because it has a habit of actually increasing the level of visceral fat—the fat that is deep within the abdomen.
Leptin is balanced primarily by omega-3 fats, like fatty fish and fish oils. From a dietary standpoint, the essential fats from the omega-3 rich fish (salmon, sardines, anchovies, and mackerel) as well as EPA- and DHA-rich fish oil can stabilize leptin levels by helping to balance brain chemistry.
Since more than 60 percent of the brain is made from fat (primarily the ones that cannot be synthesized by the body, but must be eaten in the form of foods), I would say that these omega-3s are pretty darn important to trigger specific brain receptors which control leptin and ghrelin.
In terms of weight loss, in a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, individuals who consumed fish oil and walked for 45 minutes three times a week lost up to 5 pounds more than the control group. Reams of research demonstrate how fish oil can make you thinner, soothe arthritis, improve focus, protect the eyes, balance blood sugar, and boost brainpower.