Break Free From the Endless Cycle of Hunger and Cravings
Hunger and cravings are not the same thing. And, it is important that you understand the difference between the two and what causes both of them. In order to lose weight(fat), you must learn the secret to keeping hunger and cravings under control.
First, let’s talk about the difference between hunger and cravings. Hunger is the growling feeling in your gut. True hunger is a need to eat in order to fill the emptiness in your stomach. Cravings, on the other hand, are not felt in the gut at all, but felt in your head. Cravings are really a desire for something you want, not need. It is like the time when you just finished eating all the turkey and trimmings at Thanksgiving, having stated, “I’m stuffed”, then someone brings out all the desert options and you have a piece of each one. That is an example of craving. You definitely were not hungry, you just ate a huge Thanksgiving dinner. Trust me, I have done exactly that at holiday meals and family gatherings.
Hormones are the driving force behind hunger and cravings. I am going to let you in on a little secret, hormones are key to weight loss (really fat loss), even more than calories. Hormones determine hunger, fullness, cravings, and mood. All of these can have an enormous impact on the quantity and quality of food you eat.
Hunger hormones - Insulin, leptin, and ghrelin are the three main hunger hormones.
- Insulin works to lower blood sugar, and also builds fat and muscle.
- Leptin guides your day to day hunger and tells your brain how much fuel is in your body. If you are hungry all the time, you may be Leptin resistant. This is the case with a lot of obese people.
- Ghrelin is produced in your stomach and stimulates your hour to hour hunger.
Craving Hormones - Cravings are a bit more complicated and impacted by several hormones and neurotransmitters including, cortisol, dopamine, serotonin, and GABA.
Common cravings based on hormone/neurotransmitter levels:
- Chocolate and sweets - Dopamine imbalance
- Starch and salt - Serotonin imbalance
- Alcohol, overeating, large portions - GABA imbalance
- Salt, sweet, fatty foods - Cortisol imbalance
Use the tips below to help BREAK FREE from Hunger and Cravings. It is possible!
- Eat preemptively - Never let yourself get overcome with hunger. Eat healthy snacks or small meals throughout the day.
- Eat SMART - Eat vegetables, low-sugar, high fiber fruits, proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats. Stay away from high-starch foods, refined sugar, white refined flour products, and processed foods. These foods give you a rapid rise and fall in blood sugar causing hunger and overeating.
- Exercise SMARTER, not harder - Research has proven that low to moderate impact exercise for at least 30 minutes a day is best for balancing hormone levels which will help stabilize hunger and cravings.
- Get the recommended 7-9 hours of Sleep - Hormones are released during the night while you sleep. Not getting enough sleep can affect hormones, thus causing hunger and cravings.
- Keep Stress Levels Low - Cortisol is one of the main stress hormones and also influences cravings. Stress causes cortisol levels to rise.
I hope you have seen the strong connection between hunger, cravings, and hormones (some are really neurotransmitters, but they act like hormones) with this brief overview. Hormonal balance is key to weight management, controlling hunger and cravings, and day to day health.
Your weight management and health goals should include curbing hunger and diminishing cravings. Listen to your body and learn more about how food, exercise, and your lifestyle influences hunger and cravings. Then adjust accordingly.