Simple Ways to Help Lower Ghrelin Levels
If you want to avoid hunger pangs and cravings, the trick is to learn simple ways to help lower your ghrelin levels. As we have seen, when the stomach is empty it releases the hormone ghrelin, sending a message to the brain to produce hunger pangs and the impulse to eat. To keep feelings of hunger in check, here are a few ways to keep ghrelin from becoming your nemesis.
- Eat a substantial breakfast. I know, I know … you’ve heard it before that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Substantial evidence proves it’s true. Breakfast skippers miss out on an easy opportunity to suppress ghrelin. Studies have shown that people who ate a higher-calorie breakfast produced 33% less ghrelin throughout the day and felt satisfied for a longer period of time. Try a whole-wheat English muffin with organic peanut butter, a cup of strawberries, and some low-fat yogurt.
- Choose complex carbs and get more fiber. Insulin and ghrelin go hand in hand. When insulin goes up after you eat, ghrelin goes down. If you eat the wrong kind of carbohydrates — refined carbs such as white bread and pasta — your blood sugar rises dramatically. In response, your body releases a surge of insulin to clear that sugar from the bloodstream. The insulin does its job very efficiently, and the resulting low blood sugar causes hunger sooner. These constant blood sugar ups and downs can wreak havoc on your metabolism, so it’s best to eat complex carbs (such as oatmeal, beans, brown rice, potatoes) and fiber, which delay the release of sugar into the bloodstream so that insulin levels are kept stable and you feel full longer.
- Eat on a schedule. Research has found that ghrelin levels rise and fall at your usual mealtimes, so eating on a schedule prevents spikes in ghrelin. If you’re at the mall when the ghrelin rises, rather than head for the fast food court, eat a handful of almonds or other nuts to hold you over until you can eat a nutritious meal.
- Aim to eat high-volume, low-calorie foods. Levels of ghrelin remain high until food stretches the walls of your stomach, making you feel full. High-volume, low-calorie foods, such as salads and soups, keep ghrelin levels reduced long after you’ve eaten. All green veggies and any foods with a high water content count as high-volume, low-calorie foods.
- Eat protein. Protein-rich foods can also suppress ghrelin levels — they help create a long-lasting feeling of fullness. Try adding whey protein to a low-calorie smoothie. (If you’re sensitive to gluten, just be sure to check the ingredients list; some whey protein products contain gluten.) One study found that whey brought about a prolonged suppression of ghrelin.
Some Common Foods that Keep Hunger Pangs Away:
Apples. The soluble fiber and pectin in apples suppress appetite by making you feel full. They also regulate your glucose and boost energy. An apple a day keeps the ghrelin at bay.
Apple cider vinegar has long been known to have diverse therapeutic benefits, one of which is to suppress the accumulation of body fat and liver lipids. Its pectin content also helps reduce the body’s ability to absorb fat. Drinking 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (with the mother) in a large glass of water before each meal not only improves digestion but reduces hunger levels as well.
Almonds not only increase feelings of fullness but are a rich source of antioxidants, vitamin E and magnesium. You’d be surprised what a handful can do!
Avocados are full of fiber and heart-healthy monounsaturated fat It’s the fat that signals the brain to tell your stomach it’s full.
Chocolate, but not just any chocolate. Go for a piece or two of dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa. Dark chocolate’s bitter taste signals the body to decrease your appetite. In addition, the steric acid in dark chocolate helps slow digestion, making you feel fuller, longer.
Coffee in moderation helps boost metabolism and suppresses the appetite. It’s the caffeine that does the trick, along with antioxidants from the coffee beans. Just don’t cancel out those good effects with too much sugar or cream!
Eggs. Studies have shown that eating an egg or two for breakfast can help dieters feel more full over 24 hours than if they eat a bagel with the same amount of calories.
Fish such as salmon are high in omega-3 fatty acids which increase the amount of the hormone leptin in your body. Leptin is known for suppressing appetite. Omega-3 fatty acids have other fabulous benefits such as improving heart health, eye health and fighting depression and anxiety. Whether trying to lose weight or not, it’s wise to include omega-3 fatty acids in your diet.
Vegetable Juice (the low sodium kind) is not only a good way to get more veggies in your diet, but it also fills you up. Studies have shown that when people drink vegetable juice before a meal, they end up eating 135 fewer calories.