Hormones in your brain, your fat cells, and your gut are in constant communication. They monitor your fat stores, how many calories you’ve eaten, and everything else. Their mission is to keep you alive.
Hormones that contribute to weight gain include leptin, insulin, ghrelin, and cortisol.
Your fat cells make leptin and secrete it into the bloodstream. Leptin goes to your brain and tells it how much energy you have, via your fat stores, to support your metabolic processes. When you go on a starvation diet, you lose some fat and your fat cells produce less leptin. The leptin level in your blood goes below what is normal for you. Your brain senses starvation.
This triggers several metabolic processes to get your leptin levels back up to normal. The first is that the vagus nerve is stimulated. (The vagus nerve runs between your stomach and your brain.) This makes you hungry.
Ghrelin is produced and released primarily by the stomach, although small amounts are also released by the brain, pancreas, and intestine. It circulates in the bloodstream and goes to the hypothalamus, an area of the brain in charge of appetite control. Ghrelin stimulates appetite and encourages fat storage.
Ghrelin is regulated primarily by food intake. Research shows ghrelin may cause those hunger pangs you experience right before meal times. Your diet also determines the levels of ghrelin in your blood. For instance, research shows that protein restricts the production and release of ghrelin. That’s one of the reasons protein is so filling.
And here’s another interesting thing about ghrelin: levels of this hormone increase after dieting. This partially explains why it’s so easy to regain weight after dieting. You’re more hungry after your diet than you were before it even began!
Insulin’s primary job is to move glucose into your cells for energy after it reaches your bloodstream. But insulin is also a fat storage hormone. It tells your body to stop burning fat and to store more fat.
When you routinely eat inSANE foods, such as starchy carbs and sugars, insulin is almost always circulating in your bloodstream. This keeps you in fat storage mode rather than fat burning mode. A SANE diet, vitamins and nutraceutical plan will take care of this.
The stress hormone cortisol is another one that contributes to weight gain. Cortisol has an effect on other hormones. For instance, stress causes cortisol levels to rise. This can trigger higher insulin levels, which can cause a drop in your blood sugar levels. This leads you to crave sugary, fatty foods.
Studies show elevated levels of cortisol cause belly fat, which can contribute to many serious health conditions.
What it all Means
Your brain, gut, and hormones talk to one another to synchronize the activities that automatically maintain body fat at a specified level. This is your setpoint weight. Your body defends this weight at all costs. As previously mentioned, if you go on a crash diet, your hormones send signals to the brain that makes it think you’re starving.
The hypothalamus signals ghrelin to make you hungry. You’ll become cold, crave your favorite foods. If that isn’t enough to make you eat to restore your leptin levels, it slows your metabolism.
This is why a typical diet doesn’t work. Sure, everybody loses weight on most diets in the beginning. But then it slows down to almost nothing. Your body is fighting you every step of the way. When you finally go off the diet because you’re so frustrated at your lack of progress, you’ll probably eat more food than you did before the diet. This is because dieting itself increased your levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin. Overeating combined with a slower metabolism ensures you’ll gain back all the weight you lost. You’ll even gain an additional few pounds as added insurance against future starvation.