The definition of an ideal breakfast has had a pendulum swing in recent years. No longer do boxed cereals topped with fresh fruit get a rave review. There is now somewhat of a consensus that a breakfast laden in carbohydrates of any kind, whole grain, organic, or gluten-free will lead to a nose dive in blood sugar and leave many of us looking for more calories by mid-morning. There is hard science that proves leptin and Ghrelin, the appetite control hormones, are only secreted with adequate fat and protein foods. As opposed to soft science which is short-term research, biased, without scientific methods. Essentially the boxed cereal of granola or kashi with intrinsic proteins will still not help control satiety. This can lead to excess calories, fluctuating blood sugar, insulin oscillations, weight gain and inhibited effects on weight loss.
Lets take a moment to break down each of these hormones to get a better understanding of how each of them functions:
Leptin is a satiety hormone, it lets you know when you have been satisfied with your nutritional intake and tells your brain that you are full. Essentially it inhibits appetite.
Ghrelin, the “hunger hormone,” is produced in the gut. When your tummy is empty ghrelin is secreted and stops when the gut is stretched. Eating runny, fat free dairy or puffed rice with skim milk will have little impact on physically stretching the gut. You keep feeling hunger with foods that slip through the gut. Ghrelin can cross the blood brain barrier and it increases the appetite and gut motility to prepare the gut for more food.
Leptin and ghrelin share the same brain receptor and this enhances their impact on your appetite control. They can stimulate or suppress and their regulation is one key to maintaining a healthy body weight for life. Both hormones increase the neurotransmitter dopamine which influences the reward, motivation and behaviour sensations. Think Pavlov’s dog. Food is a reward. You eat the right foods dopamine goes up you feel satisfied. Hopefully you stop eating! Acetylcholine also released with ghrelin and leptin is a transmitter that helps regulate arousal, attention, and motivation. Enough acetylcholine and you’re focused and sharp for the task at hand. Acetylcholine is also used at neuromuscular junctions in order to activate muscles. Taken in too high a dose or drugs that release acetylcholine will lead to spasm or paralysis.
Bottom line is appetite is a balance of reward, motivation, arousal, and attention. Leptin and Ghrelin do not secret unless there is adequate FAT! If you don’t eat good quality fats you will have a difficult time managing your appetite. You will fluctuate from a state of fed to fasted too frequent and have uncontrollable urges to eat even if adequate calories are eaten.
ONE TRICK TO REGULATE APPETITE, LOOSE WEIGHT, AND INCREASE FOCUS:
Change your breakfast! Stop eating carbohydrate based breakfast meals. Give the breakfast below a try for seven consecutive days then try a breakfast of cereal with fruit or even cereal with a bit of full-fat yogurt. Monitor your appetite and you may be surprised at how well your pants start to fit around the waist.
The Canadian Breakfast Recipe:
- Heat pan for 1minute over medium heat and melt 1 tablespoon of butter
- Add 2 cups of spinach or any other leafy greens
- Scramble 2-3 eggs in the butter and greens
- Shred a bit of cheese of your choice into the egg mixture
- Add pieces of leftover ham, or pancetta if desired.
- Enjoy with coffee or tea.
- This can be made the night before and eaten cold or reheated.
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