Do you start getting hunger pangs at 11:50 a.m. in anticipation of lunch? We’ve all been there. The cause is the hormone ghrelin; released when the stomach is empty, it sets off a chain reaction in the body to make you hungry.
In general you want to keep levels of ghrelin low during the day so you can keep hunger in check.
Apart from an empty stomach, there are several factors that can raise ghrelin levels, including drinking alcohol, eating too few calories, and eating greasy, fatty foods. Here are some strategies that will help you manage these triggers and keep your ghrelin levels from rising:RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
1. Have a substantial breakfast.
One study showed 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-grain slice of toast with organic peanut butter and a cup of strawberries.
2. Choose complex carbs and get more fibre.
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 and fibre, which delay the release of sugar into the bloodstream so that insulin levels are kept stable and you feel full longer.
3. 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 running errands and are away from the kitchen at one of your typical mealtimes, carry a small bag of almonds or other nuts with you — you can eat a little something to keep your stomach satisfied until you can get home and have a real meal.
4. Emphasize 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, reduce ghrelin levels long before you’ve overeaten. All green veggies and any foods with a high water content count as high-volume, low-calorie foods.
5. Eat protein.
Protein-rich foods can also suppress ghrelin levels — they help create a long-lasting feeling of fullness. Try adding some protein to each of your meals or snacks. So instead of snacking on that piece of fruit alone why not add a yogurt to your snack to increase your protein, or some almond butter on a rice cake.
Throw in some hard boiled eggs into your lunch salad. For dinner have a decent size portion or meat or fish, with a fist full side of quinoa and a salad or a portion of vegetable.
Connect here with WatchFit Expert Denise Grixti