THE GOODS ON GHRELIN…
Ghrelin: The Goading-you-to-gorge, grub-grazing Glutton
In my prior post, I discussed Leptin Resistance, how it’s linked to overeating, frequent blood sugar surges, excess fructose consumption, and stress. Equally annoying is the fact that people with excess fat stores pump out plenty of leptin, but their hypothalamus has become resistant and doesn’t hear its calling. Instead, it thinks you’re starving and sends out an SOS!, Neon News Flash! to lower your metabolic rate and increase your hunger.
Without sounding like a “Karen “ kvetching, there’s another hot-tempered hormone that is causing my dieters distress. Meet Ghrelin: A gluttonous goader/hunger harasser who’s guilty of stimulating your appetite and making you crave calorie-laden cr*p! Excuse my potty pout, but Ghrelin’s main gig is getting you to gorge on highly processed carbs that pack on the pounds. Basically, this dude encourages you to ditch your diet by giving you a mad case of the munchies - making a mockery of your feeble attempt to do a 16:5 fast. In addition to many other functions besides energy intake and regulation, this no-good nudge attempting to bamboozle your best weight loss efforts also forces these calories into fat storage. Grrrrrrr, yes, the scoop on the street is that Ghrelin’s just trying to protect us from the starvation and famine that our homo erectus ancestors faced. Note to Ghrelin: We’ve got caramel macchiatos for miles.
Ghrelin is also secreted big-time in response to prolonged and chronic stress. It’s made in the stomach, rises before meals and is supposed to mellow after the meal. BUT - there are those perpetually stressed-out peeps and ones that have a sitch that’s causing epic anxiety and the brain perceives there’s an emergency and help is needed. In turn, the prefrontal cortex calls upon cortisol (the stress hormone) to release adrenaline and glucocorticoids and instructs ghrelin to get-going, Vroooom! Vroooom! because it thinks you need fuel fast for energy to “fight or take flight” from this perceived emergency event. Cut to: Moments right after this high stress attack subsides and it’s now ghrelin’s most aggressive gig - which is to get you to gorge.
BTW: How annoying are those skinny gals that say “Uy! I was so stressed, so upset I just couldn’t eat!” Wouldn’t you know - ghrelin is all regulated and good with them. Not moi, no, no, not this gal! I got gremlin going for days when I’m depressed/stressed.
Back to this bad boy who feels it needs to restock and store some more calories replete with readily available carbs for when the next emergency emerges. So (drum roll) there’s ravenous you again, chomping down chow containing high fructose corn syrup and a little sucrose on the side. What to do?
Slash that sugar, Sugar! Countless scientific studies have established the fact that too much sugar in all its forms causes obesity which causes diabetes and insulin resistance which fuels 13 kinds of cancers, heart disease, dementia, et cetera, et cetera.
Make no mistake, Ghrelin is an appetite increaser. He hangs out in your stomach and even when there’s no immediate threat, when he senses that there isn’t enough food to fill you up and give you energy, he sends a message to your brain and bellows “FEED ME...FEED ME NOW...LET’S GO!...GRAB THAT GRUB! He’s a bit of a bully and it’s his way or the highway and make no mistake - he’ll try with all his hormonal might to get that food into your gut fast!
My advice for when Ghrelin growls and howls, "Hey you!! I’m hungry! How about it sparky?” is to use these tips to shut him down.
Have your grab and go, low carb reliables at the ready: Maybe an apple and almond butter or hummus and red pepps combo, some low-carb, homemade granola trail mix with pistachios/almonds/pumpkin seeds/coconut flakes and a few note: FEW tart dried cherries. The very best is to have a little protein, some friendly fat (think avocado) and veggies loaded with phytonutrients. Perhaps, pop some kale in the cooker with cayenne/chili powder combo or chipotle chilis, lightly drizzled EVOO and Viola! Killer kale chips. And you can do a dunk into a cool yogurt/cucumber dip. Also, think: Lettuce wrap with ground turkey (or ground chicken) onions, garlic peppers, grated ginger, hoisin & soy sauce, and a tbsp of sriracha - (my main and fav meal). Not to be overlooked is an everything wrap with fresh mozzarella, tomato, basil, and a tad of mayo! Did you hear right? Yesiree! I love me my mayo! Loaded with vitamin E, K, Selenium, B12, and Choline. Perhaps you’d prefer avocado toast using ezekiel bread and don’t forget that drizzle of EVOO and lemon. You could also grab that guac for a dip and make low carb tortilla chips (using almond flour). I recently did delish caprese skewers with mini cheese balls, cherry tomatoes, pesto, and fresh basil that was to-die-delectable! Any of these snacks should shush Ghrelin’s embarrassing belly, rumble grumble.
Speaking of which, you can expect ghrelin’s yellin’ every 3-4 hours so you can either power through and try to stave him off (to increase HSL and fat burning) or choose a small sinless snack - be on the lookout when this bad boy comes a callin’, or you’ll be ballin’ if you broke down and binged on bloat bearing, disease driving, GMO derived dreck!
Finally, my delicious dieters, when you hear Ghrelin’s roar, give him more protein, healthy carbs, and fat and watch how yours will slowly disappear.
Other tips to keep Ghrelin from goading you to gorge?
Since Ghrelin the goader makes it nearly impossible to get any work done without wanting to scarf down everything in sight, your mission is to shush him up. Here are some basic must do’s:
Sleep at least 7 to 8 hours a night. Research has found lack of shut eye disrupts leptin and ghrelin levels, so get your zzzzz’s please!
Bulk up on fiber. Fiber swells in your belly and that will keep Ghrelin the Glutton feeling as though the stomach is full
Eat lean protein. Get your ghrelin ga-ga for lean animal protein or plant-based protein. Train him to be satiated on healthy foods like nuts, seeds, hummus, eggs, yogurt (Greek), very nutrient-dense veggies, like kale, spinach, brussels, and brocc. Don’t forget the anti-oxidant powerhouses -berries of every variety.
Drink a lot of water. Ghrelin gets confused sometimes. He may have enough food, but the lack of water is what gets Ghrelin all grouched out, so - guzzle that H2O.
Reduce stress in life. Ghrelin thinks he needs more energy from food when you are stressed. Reduce your stress, reduce this bad ass’s bullying behavior.
Give your body fats including avocados and EVOO!
Strength training. Pump that iron people! It is Melissa mandatory in order to increase metabolically active muscle.
Ok my delicious dieters, I gave up the goods on Ghrelin. It’s now up to you to go all out gutsy and show this growler who’s in control.