By: Dr. Al Sears, MD
Have you ever shivered on a cold day? Do you ever feel a little light-headed when you stand up too fast? I’m sure you’ve broken a sweat while doing your PACE exercises, right?
What you’re feeling is your body trying to return itself to “normal.” In medicine we call that homeostasis. Your body is reacting to its environment and trying to get back within its natural chemical, hormonal and temperature ranges.
Hunger is a good example. When your energy levels are low, normally your hunger hormones (like leptin and insulin) signal your body to eat. When you’ve eaten enough, your hormones should tell you that you’ve had enough.
So eating enough should blunt your appetite. Your body should go back to a balanced state, and have homeostasis.
That also means that if you gain weight, homeostasis should send a signal to eat less, use more energy, and bring you back to “normal.”
But there’s a problem … in the real world, it doesn’t work that way.
We do eat too much. We have obesity.
You can get fat.
Shouldn’t this be impossible? How can every other system in your body be regulated by homeostasis except your weight?
The answer is in the food we eat.
The food choices you’re presented with as “healthy” are processed sugars and starches, and hormone- and pesticide-laden meats and dangerous preservatives. These foods lack the basic nutrition your body needs.
When you eat these foods, homeostasis tells your body it hasn’t gotten any nutrition, and to eat more. So you eat more of these processed carb-heavy foods that spike your blood sugar. This triggers the hormone insulin to bring your blood sugar down. But when insulin drops your blood sugar too low, you crave even more carbs.
This vicious cycle eventually leads to weight gain that overcomes nature, and homeostasis.
This is “hormonal hunger” and it’s what the modern world has done to you. The processed foods, grains and starches that you’ve been sold over the last 50 years have changed your body so that it overrides homeostasis and keeps on eating.
The good news is, you can reverse the effects of years of conventional food and nutrition. You can return your body, and your hormones, to a “normal” state and never have to worry about getting fat if you follow these simple steps:
Eat quality calories. Conventional doctors will tell you the key to fat loss is cutting back on calories. But it’s not about the quantity of calories. It’s all about the quality of calories. Eat meals based on protein … as many different kinds of protein as you can get. Because protein signals your body to stop eating. Getting enough protein tells your body that times are good, and flips your metabolic switch from “store fat” to “burn fat.” Then your body will use the calories as essential fuel to function at its best.
Eat the right fats. Don’t cut back on fat, either … Instead, eat the right fats like omega-3s. Your body uses them to absorb vitamins and nutrients.
Practice short-duration, high-intensity, progressively challenging workouts. Exercise is one of the best ways to shed fat and reset your hormones.(1) But the key to lasting fat loss is to teach your body to burn fat after you exercise – not while you exercise. My PACE program helps your body reset your hormone signals so you can burn off fat.
Take a multivitamin. Unless you’re the rare exception, you’re probably not getting the nutrition you need from food. Choose a brand you trust, with natural forms of the nutrients, so you can actually absorb them and they’re available for your body to use.
Eat low-glycemic-index foods. High-glycemic-index foods, which are usually the processed ones, are loaded with sugars, starches and grains and cause hormonal hunger. But low-glycemic-index foods – foods that don’t raise your blood sugar – that are also the most nutrient-dense curb your appetite and you’ll shed fat in no time. These include seeds, nuts, wild-caught salmon, grass-fed beef, free-range poultry, eggs, berries and fruits, and vegetables.
Avoid high-fructose corn syrup. It’s been found to cause hormonal hunger.(2) One more reason to stay away from processed foods or anything packed in a box, can or plastic container (even if it’s labeled organic).
Don’t skip meals. It’ll only put your body in starvation mode and make you binge on carbs that mess with your blood sugar and hunger hormones. Eat three balanced meals a day, especially breakfast, and snack on those nutrient-dense foods in between.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD
Editors Note: Dr. Al Sears, M.D. is a board-certified clinical nutrition specialist. His practice, Dr. Sears' Health & Wellness Center in Royal Palm Beach, Fla., specializes in alternative medicine. He is the author of seven books in the fields of alternative medicine, anti-aging, and nutritional supplementation, including The Doctor's Heart Cure. To get his free special report on the proven anti-aging strategies for building a vibrant, disease-free life, go here now. You'll learn how to stop Father Time without giving up the foods you love.
1. Reseland, Janne E. “Effect of long-term changes in diet and exercise on plasma leptin concentrations,”American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2001;73(2): 240-245
2. Shapiro, A., Mu, W., Roncal, C., et al, “Fructose-induced leptin resistance exacerbates weight gain in response to subsequent high-fat feeding,” Am. J. Physiol. Regul. Integr. Comp. Physiol. 2008; 295 (5)