Controlling and being able to more efficiently control the secretion of ghrelin, the appetite hormone responsible for sending signals of hunger to the brain, can help reduce belly fat.
A report, published by Eat This Not That and cited in Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, shows how to send signals to the brain in the right way to help lose weight.
High blood pressure and diabetes
Researchers studied nearly 300 volunteer participants, who were classified as obese according to BMI measurements. It was found that the obese participants had lower levels of the hormone ghrelin during fasting compared to those in the bodies of people of normal weight, which is common among those who are overweight.
Low ghrelin is also associated with high blood pressure and increased belly fat, as well as high overall body fat and diabetes risk.
Participants were divided into three groups with a different diet approach, but all engaged in regular physical activity. All three groups reached a weight loss stage, regardless of the diet used, and participants experienced a significant increase in ghrelin levels, which resulted in reduced belly fat and thus improved insulin sensitivity.
But the first group’s diet included elements of the Mediterranean diet, such as green leafy vegetables and green tea, while avoiding red meat, and was the group with the largest increase in ghrelin levels.
“These findings suggest that weight loss in and of itself can alter ghrelin levels in a positive way and reduce health risks such as diabetes or other metabolic diseases,” said Iris Shay, the study’s lead author and assistant professor of nutrition at Harvard University.
Dr. Shay adds that she and her fellow researchers have also seen benefits in terms of gut health and reduced fat in the liver, which are also necessary to reduce the risk of chronic disease.
Methods for measuring ghrelin
It can be ensured that the levels of ghrelin in the body are appropriate and on the right path without undergoing a hormone test, by monitoring the regularity of feelings of hunger and fullness well.
Ghrelin, sometimes called the “hunger hormone,” tells when to eat and is produced by cells in the stomach that send a signal to the brain. Throughout the day, the hormone rises and falls, sometimes dramatically, and is usually at its lowest after eating.
Dr. Shay explains that when the hormones ghrelin and leptin are at appropriate levels and on track after weight loss, the body tends to better control feelings of satiety and hunger, which improves metabolism in general, and thus controls belly fat.
As for leptin, it is the hormone that produces a feeling of fullness and sends signals to stop eating and start burning calories. When a person is obese, perhaps unexpectedly, leptin tends to rise and ghrelin tend to be low, which appears to be a beneficial arrangement—but it impairs appetite regulation.