Keeping Your Ghrelin Levels in Check with a Ketogenic Diet
One of the best reasons to follow a high fat and low carbohydrate diet is the way it appears to control your hunger hormones.
We have all experienced a growling stomach in the lead up to meal times. When our stomach is empty, the hormone ghrelin, also known as the “hunger hormone” is released. This signals to the body that it is hungry and that it is time to eat.
In order to keep our hunger levels in check, it is important to keep our ghrelin levels low during the day. There are a variety of factors that come into play which can inadvertently raise our ghrelin levels. For example, consuming high-fat carbohydrate-laden foods, drinking alcohol or even not consuming enough calories can adversely affect the correct brain and body response to our hunger hormones.
Steps To Keeping the Ghrelin ‘Gremlin’ Controlled
We have all heard at some point in our lives that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and it is said so often because it is true! Eating breakfast helps to regulate our metabolism.
Studies show that individuals who enjoyed a higher-calorie breakfast ended up producing approximately 33% less ghrelin during the day and also felt satisfied for a longer period of time.
Since insulin levels and ghrelin work together, it is wise to choose high protein, high fat and low carbohydrate breakfast. This ensures that you will get more nutritional benefit and feel fuller longer. Insulin levels rise after eating and ghrelin levels decrease.
If however, you consume simple carbohydrates, such as white pasta, white bread or other refined carbohydrates, your blood sugar levels dramatically rises. When this occurs, the body responds by releasing a surge of insulin to protect you from the excess sugar in the bloodstream. Once the insulin has efficiently stored the excess (as body fat), low blood sugar re-occurs. This triggers your hunger hormones once again.
Your metabolism can greatly suffer from numerous blood sugar swings from high to low. This is one of the main reasons it is vital to consume fats and protein. By keeping insulin levels stable, you delay the release of sugar into the bloodstream and this process allows the body to feel full longer.
Within our body, ghrelin levels remain elevated until food stretches the stomach wall and initiates a feeling of fullness. Conventional wisdom would recommend high-volume foods that are low-calorie, you can help reduce your ghrelin levels before overeating. Therefore soups, salads, veggies, watermelon and any foods with high water content are options for high-volume, low-calorie choices, however by following a high fat low carbohydrate keto diet you just never have those hunger pangs that are so common when you eat a conventional high carb low fat diet,
Also conventional wisdom would say that irregular mealtimes will also cause ghrelin highs and lows, but once you are fat adapted (body is using fat for fuel) and in ketosis you will be able to go many hours without eating or even thinking of food.
Try keeping a bag of nuts such as almonds in your car, purse or gym bag to get you by when you are out and about. This will deliver a high protein snack that can keep you satisfied until you can return home and enjoy a proper meal. Choosing protein rich foods additionally helps keep your ghrelin gremlin in check. This is due to the long-lasting feeling of fullness that protein provides.
Another easy way to add protein to your diet is to add a protein powder to a smoothie. Make sure your smoothie is a healthy one and not a sugar-laden smoothie that you want to think is healthy!
Further Reading and Resources about Ghrelin
Ghrelin stimulates appetite, imagination of food, GH, ACTH, and cortisol, but does not affect leptin in normal controls.
Ghrelin, a growth hormone (GH) secretagogue receptor ligand was isolated from the stomach and hypothalamus of rats and humans. In rodents, ghrelin exerts distinct orexigenic action, probably as counterpart of the anorexigenic leptin. In humans, ghrelin infusion enhances appetite. It is unknown whether single intravenous (i.v.) injections of ghrelin affect human eating behavior. Therefore, we investigated the influence of a single i.v. bolus injection of 100 microg ghrelin on appetite, ideas about food, hormone levels, and glucose concentration in young control subjects…..more here
Going to work on an egg could keep mid-morning hunger pangs at bay.
A study found that when people had scrambled eggs for breakfast they were less hungry at lunchtime than when they started the day with cereal.
With previous studies also crediting the humble egg with being able to make us feel fuller for longer than other foods, the US researchers have described it as ‘nature’s appetite suppressant’…..read more
Ghrelin is a participant in regulating the complex process of energy homeostasis which adjusts both energy input – by adjusting hunger signals – and energy output – by adjusting the proportion of energy going to ATP production, fat storage, glycogen storage, and short-term heat loss (all energy input is ultimately dissipated as heat). The net result of these processes is reflected in body weight, and is under continuous monitoring and adjustment based on metabolic signals and needs. At any given moment in time, it may be in equilibrium or disequilibrium….more here