During certain parts of the year, a literal “full plate” of holidays comes around, including Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s – all holidays heavily focused around food. Many people concede that they just may need to wear bigger pants, with a stretchy waistline to avoid pinching as their belly fat inevitably increases.
But before you break out those “big stretchy” pants, you might be pleased to know that you can learn to make friends with two powerhouse hormones called leptin and ghrelin and the intensely positive effects they can have on fat burning WHEN you understand how to make them work for you.
Additionally, I'll give you 7 strategies to get your fat burning furnace going, and keep it going…even during the holidays.
I'll start by going over the two powerhouse fat burning hormones that kick your metabolism into high gear, IF you activate them properly. Work against them, and the exact opposite happens.
High Gear Hormone #1: Fat Burning Benefits of Ghrelin
When most people think of hormones, they think of something secreted by one of the glands in the body. However, neither ghrelin nor leptin has a gland the way that estrogen, thyroid, cortisol, and insulin do. Ghrelin is secreted by your stomach and leptin by your fat cells.
Your stomach secretes ghrelin when it’s empty, signaling the hypothalamus to turn on your appetite. As a society, we’ve come to fear hunger and avoid it like the plague. As soon as we feel hungry, we look for ways to satisfy our desire for food.
But what if you could make friends with hunger and actually learn to enjoy the feeling?
There are benefits to prolonging eating and staying hungry for a while. You see, ghrelin is a potent stimulator of growth hormone, and growth hormone has profound effect on fat burning and building lean muscle. It is often considered an anti-aging hormone.
So the next time you get hungry, remember that the longer you hold out (within reason) the more you rev up your fat-burning furnace. I know it seems counter-intuitive, but try it for yourself and you will reap the health benefits of ghrelin's fat burning magic.
High Gear Hormone #2: The Appetite Attacking Benefits of Leptin
Did you know it is now believed that eating many small meals actually contributes to increased fat rather than decreased?
By delaying eating and spacing your meals 5 – 6 hours apart, you profoundly affect leptin levels. Leptin is the hormone your fat cells secrete after a meal to tell your hypothalamus to turn off your appetite.
Leptin levels are optimized when you space your meals 5 – 6 hours apart, avoid snacking, stop eating within 3 hours of bedtime, avoid high carb breakfasts and instead include protein at breakfast, and avoid overeating.
“Whoa!” You might be thinking, “That sounds hard AND it flies in the face of what I’ve been taught. I thought it wasn’t a good idea to let myself get too hungry because that’s a sure-fire trigger for overeating.”
Yes, indeed. Getting too hungry can cause you to eat everything in sight. That’s why I recommend a gradual approach, so you can retrain your conscious brain as well as your hormones.
Eating small meals may keep you from getting hungry and overeating at your next meal, but generally the results for weight loss are short lived. When you eat all day, you keep your insulin and leptin levels elevated all day. Insulin puts you into fat storing mode, which is the exact opposite of what you want.
Elevated leptin does indeed turn off your appetite, which is a good thing, but chronically elevated leptin results in leptin resistance, wherein your hypothalamus doesn’t hear the cry of leptin any more and it shifts your metabolism into starvation mode. You’re constantly hungry and your metabolism is so low that every morsel you eat gets protectively stored away around your waist like an energy insurance policy.
In my B4 Be Gone program, I share my Snack Attack Strategy for dealing with the desire for food that creeps up on you in between meals as you move towards spacing your meals.
Part of the trick is to eat enough at each meal to hold you for 5 hours. Many of my B4 Be Gone members are finding that they can’t even finish the meals I’ve laid out for them because they get too full, so they’re not hungry again for many hours.
When retraining yourself, it’s important to start with choosing snacks that are nutrient dense and calorie and carbohydrate sparse to prevent insulin spikes.
Things like green smoothies and juices, vegetable sticks with delicious omega-3 fat-rich dips, steamed or raw vegetables, and chia seed drinks or porridge are the most helpful here.
Ghrelin & Leptin Fat-Burning Power Combo: 7 Strategies for the Holidays
To keep the extra weight from creeping in this holiday season, follow these guidelines:
1. Start your day right with a low to moderate carbohydrate meal that includes ample protein. You can include choices that will stabilize your glucose, insulin, and leptin levels and keep you satisfied for hours if you include more:
* green smoothies made low-glycemic (without sugar or high sugar fruits)
* green juices
* shakes made with powdered greens and veggie protein powder for when you’re in a hurry
* chia-rich meals like shakes or porridge
2. Do a 30-second burst of high intensity exercise every couple of hours to increase fat burning.
3. Be prepared. Make a variety of delicious vegetable dishes and dips to satisfy the nibbles when everyone else is eating the low-nutrient, high-calorie hors d’oeuvres and hoarding away the extra pounds. If you’re looking for ideas, click here.
5. Satisfy your sweet tooth healthfully. While sweet desserts, even the healthy, gluten-free raw kind are not the best for daily consumption when you have a few extra pounds, they are welcome and delicious alternatives to traditional apple pie, pumpkin pie, cookies and truffles. All you need are some mouth-watering recipes and some guidance on how to recreate some sweet treats that won't add bulge in moderation.
6. Pace yourself. Eat slowly, give thanks for every bite and truly enjoy. Then stop when you get the signal you’ve had enough.
7. Wait to be really hungry before you eat your next meal. Remember, ghrelin, the appetite stimulating hormone, is your friend. You burn more fat when you’re hungry than when you’re full. Spacing your meals allows for the normal ebb and flow of leptin so you can retrain your brain to turn off your appetite when you’ve had enough.
8. Bonus Strategy: Above all, learn to eat with an attitude of gratitude, fully conscious of the effects the food has in your body. You are what you eat, digest, and absorb. Keep that in mind as you eat.
Before you take a bite, ask yourself “Do I want this to become a part of my cell structure?” What you put in and on your body becomes your body, so choose wisely. Follow these strategies as closely as you can and you will find that you will breeze through the holidays–and leave those big stretch pants in the closet unused!
With love, joy, and appreciation for you,