Today is day seven of my 108 days of content creation challenge.
The topic today is Hunger.
I will be finding answers for the questions
- What is hunger?
- What is ghrelin?
- What is leptin?
First, let me post an update on my progress.
Day 7 OMAD challenge
Starting with the summary of day six.
I did only 11:00 hours of fasting.
I have realised that not eating in the morning is a real challenge for me.
Ideally what I want to do is, to have my breakfast after 10:00 am in the morning.
But normally I get up early in the morning at around 4:00 am and I guess, I get bored and eat anything I can find.
There are two things I need to do, first start my fast earlier like 2:00 pm so that 16 hour fast ends at 6:00 am the next day.
Second, I have to start doing Surya Namskar in the morning, so that I will be physically engaged and that will divert my mind.
It is not hunger that makes me quit, but rather boredom that makes me want to fill myself with food.
If I keep my mind engaged I think I will be able to easily push breaking my fast till 10:00 am.
Hunger is defined as the strong need or desire for food.
Scientists have divided hunger into two types, real hunger and hedonic hunger.
Real hunger is when the body needs food for energy.
The symptoms of real hunger shows up as fatigue, anxiety, headaches, shakiness, or your mind being totally preoccupied with thoughts of food.
When you have not eaten for a while, the cell lining of your stomach produces a hunger hormone called ghrelin that tells hypothalamus (part of brain) to make you feel hungry.
Hunger hormone ghrelin makes you seek out food.
When you are fed and you have stored fat in your body another hormone called leptin counters the action of ghrelin.
Fat cells produce more leptin when your energy needs have been fulfilled.
Leptin signals hypothalamus that you have enough energy to meet your body’s requirement and therefore it reigns in your desire to eat.
Leptin also increases your metabolism so that you do not end up with too much stored fat.
Hedonic hunger is when you have a desire to eat, even though your body isn’t in an energy deficient state.
It is characterized by your desire to eat food because of the aroma and attractive display of the food, regardless if you are in an energy depleted state or not.
You are attracted to foods that are high in sugar, high-fat foods like pastries, ice-creams, pizza etc.
As you can see hedonic hunger is one of the main reasons why we end up being overweight.
To counter this we have to understand how this type of hunger works.
Hedonic hunger is associated with the reward system in our brain.
The reward system is a brain circuit that releases dopamine (a pleasure and habit forming hormone) when it is stimulated.
For example when you smell some high calorie food you like, the smell receptors send an impulse to your brain’s reward center.
In response the reward center jacks up production of dopamine, a pleasure hormone.
This will teach your brain to associate that high calories food with pleasure.
If you keep repeating this loop of eating high calorie food for pleasure, your brain will soon become desensitized to it.
Therefore the next time you want to feel that dopamine rush, you would have to eat more of that high calorie food.
Food addiction is similar to alcohol or drug addiction as both activate the brain’s reward center.
Eating a more protein and fiber rich diet will help you control real hunger, but not hedonic hunger as this is driven by the reward center of the brain.
What is ghrelin?
Ghrelin or hunger hormone is mainly produced in the stomachs cell lining.
It is also produced in small quantities in the small intestine, pancreas and brain.
Ghrelin stimulates appetite which increases the food intake and it also promotes fat storage.
When the body is deficient in energy, ghrelin stimulates the hypothalamus, to make you feel hungry.
It is also shown to stimulate the release of growth hormone from the pituitary gland.
And the growth hormone breaks down stored fat and causes build up of muscles.
Ghrelin also works as a protective agent for your cardiovascular system and it also contributes to regulating insulin release.
What is leptin?
Leptin, also called the satiety hormone, helps inhibit hunger and regulate energy balance.
The main purpose of leptin is to stop the body from triggering hunger response when it does not need energy.
Leptin hormone is released from the fat cells located in adipose tissue, which stimulates the hypothalamus in the brain to regulate and alter long term food intake and energy expenditure.
The amount of leptin is directly proportional to the amount of body fat on an individual.
When a person loses weight, it results in lowering of leptin levels in the body.
As a result they will experience a huge increase in appetite and food cravings.
And of course this makes losing weight very difficult.
I think I am yet not fully committed to my goal of doing OMAD.
I had decided I will start slow, that is by doing 16 hours of fast first and then building it up to 23 hours.
I don’t know what to do .
I think maybe I will have to just push through.
I know I can easily do 16 hours fast, I think I have to commit to doing it daily.
Hormones ghrelin and leptin play an important role in us feeling hungry and setitated.
Our body has developed such an amazing system of making us hungry to meet our energy requirement and making us feel satiated when the energy requirements are met.
But I don’t think our body has an answer for our hedonic hunger.
Food addiction that is eating food just for pleasure is the main contributor to us being overweight and unhealthy.
Many health risks are associated to obesity like heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, some cancers, gallbladder disease, gallstones, Osteoarthritis, Gout, sleep apnea, and asthma.
So making the lifestyle changes that will help us attain our ideal weight is the most important thing that we can do for ourselves.
Click here to know how to calculate your BMI.