When someone attempts to lose weight a negative energy balance must be created. The first choice to obtain this negative energy balance is to cut the caloric intake. Most of the time when calories are cut controlling hunger then becomes a big problem. Hunger is best described as the primary physiological drive to find and eat food. This state is driven by several different internal forces that all work together to extinguish the need for food and put the body in a state of satiety, meaning the desire to eat ceases. These internal forces that drive us to eat may be responsible for over-eating and obesity. So what exactly are these internal forces?
Changes in serotonin production have also been linked to satiety controls. Various nutrients, especially carbohydrates, increase serotonin production. High levels of this neurotransmitter cause increased synthesis of the amino acid tryptophan which appears to clam oneÕs mood, induce sleepiness, and decrease the desire to eat more carbohydrates.
Endorphins, cortisol, and insulin all lead to decreased satiety or increased hunger. The significant presence of cortisol in those genetically prone to obesity may be a big problem. Insulin however, is a double edge sword. High insulin levels increase liver metabolism of nutrients. In this case it promotes satiety. However, as insulin does its job by ridding the blood of nutrients, it then causes hunger to return.
As the adipose cells become increasing larger, they tend to become resistant to insulin. As we know, insulin stimulates the uptake of fat when we have an excess of calories. Once these cells become resistant to the actions of insulin, fat storage decreases, thus protecting the adipose cell from becoming too large.
It appears that the level of body fat may directly influence whether or not the exercising individual will be hungry or not after exercise. Lean individuals compensate for increased energy expenditures and adjust the food intake upward to maintain their body compensation. On the other hand, obese individuals donÕt seem to have increased hunger and food intake after exercise.
Psychological factors like emotional states and personal beliefs can affect the way we eat. Eating disorders have been shown to increase of decrease the amount of food we consume in spite of the physiological controls.
Environmental factors, such as availability of food, time of day, social obligations, food characteristics, temperature, and humidity all have affects on ho much we eat.
Social customs, peers, and authority figures may also affect our eating habits. Taste, texture, color, previous experience are contributors to satiety.
So how do we control these extermal factors and control satiety while we diet? It is highly unlikely that we can easily control hypothalamus cell damage problems, but nutrient blood levels can easily be controled by eating 4 to 5 several smaller meals instead if 2 to 3 big meals. By spreading out the intake of your daily caloire over the day, you will keep the nutrient level a little more constant. Thus, satiety will be easier to control.
Limiting the intake of sugars will also control large increases and drops in insulin levels. When the insulin levels drop low, hunger is increased.
The level of physical activity seems to be especially important in obese individuals to control the level of hunger. Exercise not only stablizes insulin production, but it also increases glucagon production. Low intensity exercise also limits cortisol production. Because obese individuals have plenty of stored fat in the adipose, exercise does not seem to cause and increase in humger as it does in leaner individuals.
It is also very important to address any of the many external forces that may control hunger. Psychological, environmental, and social problems have all been linked to over-eating and obesity.