Hormones play a massive role in how our body functions and each of them is responsible for a very particular job. While one makes us feel hungry, another does exactly the opposite. While one tells our brain that we need to store fat just in case, another gives us a signal to start burning it like there’s no tomorrow. The trick is to learn how to turn on the hormones that we want and switch off those that we don’t want.
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1. The hormone that makes you feel hungry
Ghrelin is the “I am hungry” gremlin. It’s the hormone that sends a message to your brain that it’s time to eat. The interesting fact is that reducing calorie intake stimulates ghrelin production, and even after being on a low-calorie diet for 12 months, its level is still high. That’s one of the reasons, why low-calorie diets don’t work for the long term. Our body just can’t get used to it.
What to do?
The good news is that intensive cardio exercises can drop your ghrelin level.
Cardio exercises can be almost anything — running, weight training, boxing, boot camp, as long as your heart rate rises up to a particular level. Achieving this level is important and there are plenty of different tools you can use to read heart rate. But there’s an easier way to figure out when you’ve reached it. If you’re breathing heavily and you can still speak, but you can’t sing, then your heart rate is probably at the right level.
2. The hormone that tells you to eat less
Luckily, our body also produces hormones that tell the brain to use more calories and eat less, leptin is one of them. It’s produced by fat cells, meaning that the fatter we are, the more leptin we have. Which sounds great, but it’s a trick. After a certain point, our body gets what specialists call a leptin resistance, a condition where the brain can’t read the leptin signal.
What to do?
The solution is simple, food that is high in antioxidants increases sensitivity to leptin. The list of foods that are high in antioxidants is very long and you can always find something that you like. Losing weight has the same effect, and eventually, the more weight you lose, the stronger the leptin’s effect is.
3. The hormone that absorbs sugar
Insulin is very important for our well-being, it regulates blood sugar levels and helps us to recover from exercising. Our body releases insulin when we eat carbs and it helps cells to absorb glucose. That glucose is used for energy, but if we get more glucose than we need, any leftovers will turn into fat.
What to do?
The solution is to get most of your carbs from grains, veggies, and fruits that have a low Glycemic Index (GI). The lower the GI is, the slower glucose gets released and the more time we have to use it all. This doesn’t mean that you should stay on a strict diet, you just need to substitute high GI food with low GI food. For example, white rice can be replaced with brown rice, or instant oats with traditional rolled oats. It’s simple.