‘PLEASE TELL ME ABOUT THE ROLES OF GHRELIN AND LEPTIN’

'Why is there so much talk about re­plac­ing salt on an LCHF diet?'

LOSE IT! - - Contents -

Sally-Ann Creed an­swers this and other reader ques­tions

Q: Please tell me about the roles of ghrelin and leptin. A: Ghrelin and leptin are your hunger hor­mones. They switch your hunger and sati­ety lev­els on and off. Ghrelin sig­nals hunger, leptin sig­nals full­ness.

When it comes to los­ing weight you are at their mercy. When ghrelin has the up­per hand and its level rises you be­gin to feel hun­gry so you eat. Once your body’s need for nour­ish­ment is taken care of leptin be­gins to rise, ghrelin drops and your hunger dis­si­pates as your feel­ing of full­ness takes over. Sounds sim­ple enough – but not so fast. You might find it in­ter­est­ing to know that if you re­strict your food in­take too much your ghrelin level in­creases and your leptin level drops. In other words you will al­ways feel hun­gry. This is why sane weight loss is so im­por­tant: you don’t want to mess up your hor­mones – es­pe­cially your del­i­cate thy­roid hor­mones and, of course, leptin and ghrelin. Mess­ing around with th­ese hor­mones sets you up for fu­ture mis­ery as they are not easy to fix. The mo­ment you let your guard down you will put on weight again. It’s per­verse. There­fore take heed as to how you treat your pre­cious body and its hor­mones.

Here’s what to do to pro­tect th­ese hor­mones while still los­ing weight: 1. Get plenty of sleep. Those who sleep enough have been shown to have higher leptin and lower ghrelin lev­els than those who don’t get ad­e­quate sleep. If you have a night with­out sleep you will gen­er­ally be hun­grier the next day – not for healthy food but for car­bo­hy­drate-rich food. Add a mere 20 min­utes of sleep to your night and you may find the ki­los drop­ping off a lit­tle faster. 2. Avoid fruc­tose. It causes ghrelin to rise, which is why you are hun­gry half an hour after eat­ing fruit. Fruc­tose is in a lot of food as a so-called ‘sugar-free’ sweet­ener. Agave is one of the worst of­fend­ers as it is al­most all fruc­tose. Avoid it like the plague. 3. Don’t try to lose weight too fast. This al­ways ends in mis­ery! A steep drop in food in­take has a ter­ri­ble ef­fect on your me­tab­o­lism and is likely to in­crease the re­lease of ghrelin, which is not what you are look­ing for. As your body ad­justs so your me­tab­o­lism slows down to ac­com­mo­date this but when you eat more your body doesn’t read­just – you sim­ply put on weight. You do need to avoid re­fined food and a high-carb diet but don’t be fool­ish and go too low carb or re­duce your food in­take too much, too quickly. Be level-headed about weight loss. Take your time and learn to eat real food in ap­pro­pri­ate por­tions. By do­ing this you will re­main friends with both ghrelin and leptin.

Q: Why is there so much talk about re­plac­ing salt on an LCHF diet? A: When you have fewer car­bo­hy­drates in your diet your body loses wa­ter and, with it, sodium. Sodium is a cru­cial min­eral for our bod­ies; like choles­terol, it is es­sen­tial if we wish to re­main alive. When your in­sulin is high your body tells your kid­neys to hang onto sodium but on an LCHF diet the carbs are re­duced, more wa­ter is lost and more sodium is ex­creted. Since it is such a crit­i­cal elec­trolyte, re­duced sodium lev­els can lead to cramps, fa­tigue, light­head­ed­ness, and even con­sti­pa­tion. There’s an easy rem­edy here, how­ever: sim­ply add more high-qual­ity salt to your diet. Don’t be con­cerned about hy­per­ten­sion: if you have nor­mal blood pres­sure then ex­tra salt in an LCHF diet won’t pre­dis­pose you to hy­per­ten­sion.

Q: One word: al­co­hol. A: Yes, this is a one-word ques­tion… and an­other one I’m con­stantly be­ing asked. You need to know this: it’s about much more than just the carbs! Al­co­hol has its own agenda when you are try­ing to lose weight. There are those who can suc­cess­fully lose weight on reg­u­lar al­co­hol in­take but for most peo­ple, women es­pe­cially, it is a death knell to weight loss.

Fat me­tab­o­lism drops by more than 70% if you con­sume al­co­hol. A drink pre­vents fat loss from the ex­ist­ing body stores while stash­ing away more and, chaps, it drops testos­terone dra­mat­i­cally – so if you are try­ing to start a fam­ily and still en­joy­ing a beer at every op­por­tu­nity this may be why your wife is not con­ceiv­ing.

Al­co­hol raises the level of cor­ti­sol, which causes mus­cle wast­ing and fat de­po­si­tion, while re­duc­ing testos­terone for up to 24 hours after the last drink. For both men and women al­co­hol re­duces the abil­ity to build strong fat-burn­ing mus­cle as the ef­fect on mus­cle is catabolic. Al­co­hol also slows down meta­bolic rate.

Ac­etate is pro­duced from al­co­hol and once that’s in the blood­stream the body prefers to use this for en­ergy in­stead of fat. Plus, the more you drink the more you want to eat – al­co­hol gives you the munchies – and in the process, the body turns the ac­etate into stored body fat.

One last thing: your oe­stro­gen level in­creases by up to 300% so while you’re ‘just’ en­joy­ing a drink your testos­terone is plum­met­ing, your oe­stro­gen is soar­ing and your waist­line is ex­pand­ing, to say noth­ing of what it’s do­ing to the brain, heart and blood vis­cos­ity.

De­hy­dra­tion is a com­mon prob­lem in the reg­u­lar drinker too and the kid­neys have to rally if the body is de­hy­drated. For body fat to be metabolised it needs to be re­leased by the liver but de­hy­dra­tion causes the liver to ne­glect those du­ties in favour of com­ing to the aid of the kid­neys. Al­co­hol causes fat to be stored in the liver (hence fatty liver dis­ease) and after a while ac­tu­ally im­pairs the liver’s abil­ity to cope, which re­sults in a dam­aged liver. Your liver is your great­est ally when it comes to weight loss and over­all good health. It per­forms more than 400 func­tions – it’s ex­tremely im­por­tant.

Sodium is a cru­cial min­eral for our bod­ies; like choles­terol, it is es­sen­tial if we wish to re­main alive.

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