One of the first weight loss reference guides I came across that actually gave me a fresh new perspective on appetite control was Robb Wolf’s Total Transformation Fat Loss Guide. It’s got a lot of great info inside it, like the audio about the neuro regulation of appetite, aka your body’s appetite control.
It was around 5 years ago I discovered that guide and since then I’ve learned a great deal about appetite control and neuro regulation. That’s what we’ll cover here and in another post tomorrow I’ll cover how to reprogram your appetite control.
Neuro regulation of appetite is very important when it comes to weight loss, weight gain, and other metabolic issues. Neuro regulation helps to speed up or slow down changes in body composition and fat loss, aka our metabolism.
Conventional wisdom says that in order to achieve weight loss it’s simply a matter of calories in and calories out, so as long as we stick to the food pyramid and cut our intake we’ll be right!
But conventional wisdom is obviously NOT working, which is plainly clear if we look around us and see the amount of sickness and disease, obesity, diabetes, and everything else.
Calorie Restriction Doesn’t Work
If you were to ask most people, even yourself, they are not finding it easier to lose weight with the calorie restriction method.
Why is that?
At the most basic level the truth is as humans we are essentially cavemen in nature, meaning our bodies are naturally wired for survival, just like most other mammals. If we restrict calories we actually store fat not burn it. Imagine your body knowing there are no calories or fuel coming into the body, so it carefully uses the resources it already has stored. Because essentially fat is a fuel/food source for the body when there are no calories being eaten.
Your body has a thermostat that is meant to keep the fuel stores burning at a regular rate. But when there is not enough fuel going in, the temperature in your body drops, and as a result your energy will also decrease. If the tank is really low, you actually start burning more fuel faster, and energy continues to decrease.
That’s why many people who try to restrict calories remain hungry, I know I’m like that. I don’t do well at all on a low calorie restricted diet. The thing is, this burning of fuel does not mean you are burning fat faster it actually means that burning calories becomes more difficult.
On the other hand if we feel full, our body can then release any excess fat. It’s all about the quality of food you eat, not quantity.
The Need To Master Carbs
The conventional western diet promotes a high carbohydrate, low fat diet but for many people consuming carbohydrates is problematic. When it comes to our food intake, carbohydrates is the key food of focus.
When we can master carbs, we can master appetite and metabolism!
Eating too many carbohydrates makes you feel more hungry by affecting a hormone calle ghrelin, pushes up insulin production, and blocks another hormone called leptin.
Leptin is the appetite regulation hormone.
Yes we still need our carbs but we have to understand what constant intake of carbohydrates is doing to the body.
Hormones and the Regulation Of Appetite
Carbohydrates promote the release of the hormone insulin.
Insulin tells your fat cell to store, but it also tells your brain to stop seeing the leptin signal. This is known as leptin resistance.
If the brain can’t see the leptin this triggers the vagus nerve and increases insulin secreton, insulin then pushes more fat into fat cells, into storage.
As a result of leptin resistance and this faulty hormonal pathway, your brain thinks you are starving and your appetite increases.
The cause of leptin reistance is insulin. Insulin blocks leptin signaling.
With our current diet full of sugar and carbohydrates we have excess insulin ALL the time! We now have insulin 24/7 and our body is not designed to cope with that.
When Appetite Control is Broken
What tends to happen with many people over time is the appetite control mechanism is broken.
If you register that you are hungry, you refuel your engines BUT with leptin resistance your brain does not register, so the fuel delivery to your body is faulty, you will just continue to store fat!
So it’s not just as simple as decreasing calories because there are a whole range of hormonal and physiological functions involved.
The neuro regulation of appetite is responsible for helping to regulate things like:
- Blood glucose
- Fat storage
- Registering when you last meal was
- Knowing how many calories you have in reserve
- Knowing how much energy you have stored
- Regulating the hormonal impact of last meal
It always amazes me how incredible the body is at doing everything on autopilot!
A lot of the appetite control dysfunction not only comes from what we eat but comes from low level systemic inflammation in our body.
This inflammation develops as a result of food sensitivities in the body, stress, lack of sleep, bad gut flora, and other things as well.
If you’re a regular reader of the GFE blog you will know I talk about inflammation a lot. If you’re new, you will love to explore this Inflammation 101 post.
The good news is…
We can reprogram this dysfunction!
And in tomorrows post I’ll be sharing 5 tips on how you can do it, so stay tuned 🙂
Nutritionist & Health Counselor