Tag Archives: ghrelin

12 Days of Fitness 2020: Day 3 – Why Losing Weight Through Exercise is Hard

(This is part 3 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

Most of us eat more when we exercise, and though it may be just a few extra bites a day, the result is weight gain. People hoping to lose weight with exercise often wind up being their own worst enemies, according to the latest, large-scale study of workouts, weight loss and their frustrating interaction. The study, which carefully tracked how much people ate and moved after starting to exercise, found that many of them failed to lose or even gained weight while exercising, because they also reflexively changed their lives in other, subtle ways. But a few people in the study did drop pounds, and their success could have lessons for the rest of us.

Is Exercise Effective Enough?

In a perfect universe, exercise would make us thin. Physical activity consumes calories, and if we burn calories without replacing them or reducing our overall energy expenditure, we enter negative energy balance. In that condition, we utilize our internal energy stores, which most of us would call our flab, and shed weight. But human metabolisms are not always just and cogent, and multiple past studies have shown that most men and women who begin new exercise routines drop only about 30 percent or 40 percent as much weight as would be expected, given how many additional calories they are expending with exercise. Why exercise underwhelms for weight reduction remains an open question, though. Scientists studying the issue agree that most of us compensate for the calories lost to exercise by eating more, moving less, or both. Our resting metabolic rates may also decline if we start to lose pounds. All of this shifts us back toward positive energy balance, otherwise known as weight gain. It has not been clear, however, whether we tend primarily to overeat or under-move as compensation, and the issue matters. To avoid compensating, we need to know how we are doing it.

How Are We Doing It?

One of the main complaints about exercise is that it can make you hungry and cause you to eat more. It’s also been suggested that exercise may make you overestimate the number of calories you’ve burned and “reward” yourself with food. This can prevent weight loss and even lead to weight gain. Although it doesn’t apply to everyone, studies show that some people do eat more after working out, which can prevent them from losing weight. Exercise may influence the hormone ghrelin. Ghrelin is also known as “the hunger hormone” because of the way it drives your appetite. Interestingly, studies show that appetite is suppressed after intense exercise. This is known as “exercise anorexia” and seems tied to a decrease in ghrelin. However, ghrelin levels go back to normal after around half an hour. So although there is a link between appetite and ghrelin, it doesn’t seem to influence how much you actually eat. Studies on calorie intake after exercise are mixed. It’s now recognized that both appetite and food intake after exercise can vary between people. For example, women have been shown to be hungrier after working out than men, and leaner people may become less hungry than obese people So, if you are hoping to lose weight with exercise, pay close attention to what you eat and not quit or blame the exercise.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

See you tomorrow for Day 4 of the 12 Days of Fitness

Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day #1 – 7 Ways to Stop Overeating Forever
Day #2Sleep Facts That May Surprise You


12 Days of Fitness 2015: Day 5 – The 5 Reasons Why You Should Never Feel Hungry When Trying to Lose Weight

(This is Part 5 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful blurbs and  tips to keep your fitness in focus over the holiday season)

ee7f164e38f7ea95_stk72137cor_1_.previewLosing weight is a daunting task. Contrary to common belief, it’s not as linear as just eating less and moving more and when you couple that with the fact that food is such a large part of our social environment, one is left little room for error. The great news is that weight loss is possible and does happen when the focus is on getting the job done with consistency backed by real knowledge and not misguided and misinformed beliefs. One of the many things that should never be an occurrence but happens to people who are trying to lose weight is the sense of hunger. Here are 5 scientifically convincing reasons why you should never be hungry and start losing weight correctly.

Hunger is Nature’s Survival Mechanism

Hunger, just like pain, happiness, thirst, or anger, is a completely natural feeling. It’s not likely we ignore those signals but for some reason people are willing to ignore hunger signals. Hunger is the body’s cue telling us we are lacking either calories or nutrients or both. Ignoring it most likely leads to stronger and stronger hunger cues to the point of causing negative physical and mental side effects.

Hunger Isn’t Necessary For Weight Loss

Hunger is a completely natural signal that your brain sends to your body; we can get them whether dieting or not. When dieting however, ignoring those signals will get you nowhere fast. Sufficient calories and nutrition are an important and essential part of the weight loss process.

Hunger Negatively Affects Your Metabolism

Calorie deprivation is a sure fire way to wreck the metabolism. When the metabolism gets out of whack, it can take some time for it to readjust. Two important appetite-controlling hormones to understand when trying to lose weight are leptin and ghrelin. These hormones signal when it’s time to eat, and they also send signals when you’re satiated. When the latter happens, your body receives a cascade of signals that it is in a fed state. When in this state your body is more likely to shed its energy reserves (fat). The opposite is also true. When in a state of constant hunger your body senses a lack of available fuel in its future and chooses to hold onto the fat it has in case of emergency.

Strict Adherence to Restriction Leads to Poor Habits

Restriction is commonly associated with weight loss. It’s almost assumed you have to tolerate these feelings if you want to lose weight. This excess restriction does nothing but suppress your desire to eat until the feelings are no longer bearable. In the end, you end up bingeing from food deprivation. You go three steps forward and then take three steps back and then wonder why you can’t lose any weight. Try eating real food at a smaller calorie deficit, take it slower, and feed your body when it tells you it’s hungry.

 Hunger is Not a Sustainable Feeling to Tolerate

There are millions of people in this world who live with the pain of hunger daily. No one in the civilized world has any reason to tolerate hunger pains. Living a healthy lifestyle and maintaining a healthy body composition doesn’t mean you have to live your life in a constant battle with hunger.You shouldn’t have feelings of hunger on your mind all day long. Eating should be more of an involuntary action. It should happen in the background as you live your life. Constantly having to pay attention to your stomach is both physically and emotionally exhausting. Don’t even try to battle it. You will always lose in the end.

If you’re always feeling hungry it’s time to take a close look at your nutrition. You likely need to increase your overall calories or start adding in more nutrient dense foods. Losing weight and being at a healthy weight shouldn’t be that difficult. It’s your body’s natural state and what it ultimately wants to be at. Go with the flow and listen to your body.

See you tomorrow for Day 6 of the 12 Days of Fitness


Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

Day 1 – Chew Your Food
Day 2 – Fitness for the Road
Day 3 – The Many Names of Sugar
Day 4 – Side Stitches: Causes and Treatments


Do Women Have A Harder Time Losing Weight Than Men?

77444-406x296-Weight_PlateauWho’s stronger? Who’s smarter? Who is more fit?? The battle of the sexes has raged on for years and will most likely continue as the years go by. However, when it comes to fitness it really does come down to the science. There really are differences between the way men and women diet, lose weight and respond to exercise. Most of the differences are rooted in biology; other differences are behavioral. But though many of these seem to give men the upper hand, they shouldn’t be taken to imply that men have it easy either. Losing weight, more specifically losing fat, is not easy, if not confusing for either sex. Research over the past few years is really starting to provide some light, and an answer, to the question.

The Current Solution

For years nutritionists have long insisted that losing weight is simply a matter of burning more calories than you consume. Despite that seemingly easy concept, nearly 50% of Americans are obese and that number is increasingly on the rise. So what gives? Are we really eating more? Yes. Are truly moving less? Yes. But the information that researchers are unearthing about the differences in the way that men and women lose weight inspires hope that the next generation of weight-loss advice will be more tailored and effective than the generic tips that have gotten Americans fatter and unwell.

Differences in Exercise and Nutrition

First, let’s talk M&Ms, and no, I don’t mean the chocolate that melts in your mouth and not in your hands. I’m talking about muscles and metabolism. Men tend to have more muscle than women, and because muscle burns more calories than fat tissue, men tend to have a faster metabolism, too — anywhere between 3 to 10 percent higher than women, studies have shown. When it comes to working out, that difference just gets magnified all due to exercise myths and false beliefs. Women, worried about bulking up, tend to lift lighter weights and focus more on cardiovascular fitness, while men tend to gravitate toward the kind of heavy lifting that boosts muscle building and increasing metabolism. In terms of how we eat, there’s evidence that men and women’s brains are actually wired a bit differently. In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (January 2009) even though women said they weren’t hungry when asked to smell, taste, and observe treats such as pizza, cinnamon buns and chocolate cake, brain scans showed activity in the regions that control the drive to eat. Not so for men. But it doesn’t end there. In women, ghrelin — the “I’m hungry” hormone — spikes after a workout, while leptin — which tells the brain ‘I’m full!’ — plummets, according to a 2009 study in the American Journal of Physiology — Regulatory, Integral and Comparable Physiology. Again, not so in men. Post-workout, women tend to eat more, which puts them at risk to gain weight. On the contrary, men don’t experience this same hormonal fluctuation. Researchers hypothesize that it’s the female body’s natural way of fighting energy deficits in order to preserve fertility and perpetuate the species. When women aren’t getting enough calories, ovulation and hormones that make reproduction possible get suppressed. But there’s more than just biology at work here.

The Head Game

A complex of emotional and behavioral issues has a powerful impact on the way men and women approach weight loss. Cynthia Sass, a registered dietitian and author says she “has seen many women gain weight as soon as they get into a relationship with men because they start eating as much and as often as their male partners. That turns out to be too much,” she says. And then there’s the question of what drives men and women to eat: hunger for food, or some more profound craving. A 2013 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition established that women are more commonly emotional eaters than men. And emotional eaters, in an effort to feel better, are prone to reach for foods that will ignite the reward center of the brain, which tend to be the sugary, fatty, salty, hyper-palatable foods. Despite that the research has shown that both men and women are prone to an all-or-nothing approach to weight loss, women generally take extreme measures to get back on track, with tactics such as skipping meals or extreme calorie deprivation.

What To Do?

“Lifestyle choices are immensely powerful,” Sass says. Biology is not a destiny; it is a journey – much like fitness. If you’re convinced that your sex gives you certain limitations, you need to change your mentality. Don’t blame the exercise; you choose what you participate in. Don’t blame your metabolism; you are its creator. Don’t blame the food; you choose to eat it. Don’t blame your age; there are many more just like you “choosing” to not make that their excuse.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.