Well I am back with Part 2 of the Hormonal Series; I know you’ve been excited all week for this.
Well this week first up is Ghrelin.
Ghrelin is produced and released mainly by the lining of the stomach but also in small amounts by the small intestine, pancreas and the brain.
Ghrelin is your hunger hormone! Think Stomach Growling hormone! Ghrelin stimulates appetite, therefore increases food intake and also promotes fat storage.
Ghrelin also stimulates the release of growth hormone from the pituitary gland, which, unlike ghrelin itself, breaks down fat tissue and causes the build-up of muscle. This is important if you want to bulk up but it’s not something I will go into today.
As well as helping to build muscle it has some more important functions like having a protective effect on the cardiovascular system and a role in the control of insulin release.
Ghrelin levels are high during a fast, or just before a meal i.e. anytime when you have not eaten for a significant period. It can actually fall into a pattern with our regular meal times and therefore bring on your stomach growling when you are close to a regular meal time-clever huh!
It does this by sending a message to your brain, specifically the Hypothalamus and tells you that you are hungry. When you eat, Ghrelin levels drop.
So how can aspects of your lifestyle affect Ghrelin? Firstly, lack of sleep. Ever noticed how hungry you are when you are tired?
Secondly, it has also been shown that having raised Insulin Levels can keep Ghrelin raised. This is where the circle starts to come together from last week’s post! As I mentioned last week Insulin can increase your Leptin levels, which tell the brain it is hungry. Par exemple you eat something sugary, your Insulin levels increase in order to turn the sugar into energy. Eating the sugar has then increased your Leptin levels-which regulates your appetite and fat storage and decreases production of Leptin. However if your Insulin response is impaired, Ghrelin levels remain elevated after eating so you are still hungry! So you eat and well you know the rest.
So we have just linked up how Insulin, Ghrelin and Leptin affect your weight. Let’s continue the hormone cycle.
Cortisol is a very important hormone as it has many functions including blood pressure regulation, metabolism of glucose, controlling blood sugar levels, supporting the immune system and many more.
Upon waking your Cortisol levels should be high and this should decrease as the day goes on.
Cortisol is often referred to as the stress hormone, as your body releases more of it during stressful periods. This has positive benefits such as high pain threshold, increased energy and memory. However if this happens over a prolonged period problems can occur.
The Dark Side of Cortisol!
When you are constantly producing a high amount of cortisol, it can deregulate your normal cortisol production. This means instead of having more in the morning and less at night, it can be high all day.
In order for Cortisol to provide you with Energy, it stimulates the metabolism of Carbs and Fats. It will also encourage the release of more Insulin.
So more Cortisol will increase the insulin which as mentioned above increases the Leptin, and then your Ghrelin stays high so you are still hungry.– Do you ever find you are hungrier when stressed, particularly for carbs?? I feel like that should be a song – “The Sugar increases your Insulin, The Insulin Increases your ….Leptin……..” I bet you all sung that!
But it is not just the increased food intake that will cause weight gain. As Cortisol increases blood sugar levels, there will be an excessive amount of glucose in your body. This Glucose will not be required for energy as is therefore stored as fat. It has been shown that body fat caused by cortisol is predominantly stored around your middle i.e. your stomach and your back. (At no point in my legal career did I grab my back fat and shout to a manager that he was the sole cause of that particular bit of fat, honest……)
So I know that was a great whack of Science for you there but I do feel you are all intelligent enough to cope (except for you Mum, I imagine you won’t have read this far anyway……….) and I promise this is all going somewhere with my crusade against Sugar. Davina just tells you it’s bad, but I respect your intelligence enough to tell you why-just saying!
Ps. If you would like any further help with Weight Loss in Liverpool and the Surrounding areas, or you would like to know more about my Mobile Personal Training Services across Merseyside and The Wirral please do not hesitate to contact me E: firstname.lastname@example.org