Friday, June 10, 2011

Why Low Carb Diets Reduce Hunger

The most amazing thing to me about the low carb lifestyle is that those constant hunger pangs have simply disappeared. Not only that, but I now feel full after eating, which never really happened before. I used to blame my upbringing (both my parents were obese) for damaging that switch in my body that told me I had eaten "enough."

Now I know it has to do with leptin resistance. In the briefest of terms, leptin is a hormone secreted by fat cells and this hormone "tells" the brain that you are full. Most obese people secrete adequate amounts of leptin but, as in the case with insulin, they become insensitive to leptin (just like type II diabetics produce insulin, but they become insensitive to insulin). Tryglycerides are apparently a major problem in leptin resistance. When triclyceride levels increase, so does resistance to leptin. Overweight and obese people usually have quite high triglyceride levels. A low carb diet will reduce triglyceride levels quite rapidly (usually within a few days or a week or two), which then makes you more sensitive to leptin. And then you start to feel full.

This is one reason why people who eat until they are full on a low carb diet spontaneously consume fewer calories than those who eat until they are full on a low fat, high carb diet, and perhaps explains the greater success rate of shedding pounds with a low carb diet.

But there is one additional problem. While you are losing weight, you won't be hungry. However, when you have reached your goal, you will have lost most of your excess fat stores, which are largely responsible for the release of the hormone leptin. There is a three-fold solution to this problem. First, maintain the low carb lifestyle. Second, eat more slowly during meals. And third, go five to six hours between meals without eating. This allows the leptin receptors to reset themselves naturally in the absence of excess fat stores.

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