— by Cate Stevenson, BA
There is a lot of advice out there when it comes to shedding a few pounds. Diets run the gamut from eating only grapefruit to eating all the fattening and decadent foods you could want provided they are in the right amounts and eaten at the right time during the day.
Of course, diets are really a sort of temporary solution to losing weight. Without a well-balanced diet, your body will perpetually look for nutrients, even if it means triggering cravings for unhealthy foods. If you deprive yourself of fat, for example, you may crave potato chips or chocolate. Your mind may not step in and direct you to something healthier like salmon, yogurt or a handful of almonds.
There’s a reason why you might find yourself reaching for junk food, even if you’re trying not to. Researchers at the Imperial College London showed in a recent study that ghrelin (known as the hunger hormone) seems to raise the desire for high-calorie foods in humans.
The study included 18 healthy adults. The participants looked at pictures of different foods on three mornings. On one morning, they looked at the pictures after skipping breakfast. The other two mornings, the participants looked at the pictures about 90 minutes after having breakfast. On one of the breakfast-eating mornings, all the participants got injections consisting either of salt water or ghrelin. Then they looked at pictures of high-calorie foods such as chocolate, cake and pizza, and low-calorie foods such as salads and vegetables.
The researchers then had the participants use a keyboard to rate the appeal of those pictures. Low-calorie foods were rated about the same, no matter which injection the participants received. But the high-calorie foods, especially sweets, rated higher in those who got ghrelin. The researchers concluded that ghrelin seems to alter the desire for high-calorie foods more than low-calorie foods. They speculated that if ghrelin’s activity could be blocked, it could help in achieving successful weight loss for those who are struggling with obesity.
Remember that dieting usually involves lifestyle changes and lifestyle changes take a little time and perseverance to implement. Everyone wants a quick fix when it comes to weight loss, but, with a little patience, you can find your way to a lasting, balanced weight that in the end won’t be stressful at all to maintain. Follow these commonsense strategies:
–Never stop eating; eating something every three hours is a good rule of thumb
–Watch your portions
–Eat the right kinds of carbohydrates (i.e. fruits and vegetables, whole grains)
–Reduce your sugar intake