We get it. You want to lose weight. Trust me, I was right there with you just a few years ago. It will happen, and it probably won’t even be as hard as you think. A lot of people, particularly teenage/college aged kids, tend to think that the only way to lose weight is to stop eating and run further on a treadmill That notion is completely and utterly false. There are in fact several ways to lose weight. Sure, you can cut out your food intake, run 5 miles a day, and hate yourself, and most likely have your grades drop and your friends abandon you because of your crazy mood swings. Or, you could simply tap into the most powerful system controlling your body: hormones.
How do you tap into your hormones? Well, it starts with what you eat.
There are a number of hormones that control your appetite and tell you when you are full. The first one we will discuss is Letptin.
Leptin is the main hormone that restricts appetite. Leptin is an amino acid, otherwise known as a protein. Foods that trigger a leptin response include high-fat and high protein foods such as animal products. In other words, when we eat protein and fat, we feel full becuase of leptin. Carbohydrates like grains and legumes, don’t trigger quite the same leptin response.
Ghrelin, similar to leptin, regulates hunger levels and energy. Ghrelin can be effected by several things, not including food intake. These factors include sleep and stress.
Insulin is the hormone that regulates blood sugar, body fat and aging. You have probably heard of insulin from our grains post or in reference to someone who suffers from diabetes. Insulin is the hormone that transfers nutrients from the food we take in, to our cells. Insulin has effect on not only your storage of nutrients, but also influences the aging process. Insulin is the hormone that will stop your body from using fat as energy, and has it start using carbohydrates instead. If we can control our insulin, we can control whether our body burns fat, or burns sugar. (hint, hint, we want it to burn fat)
Glucagon is a counterpart to insulin. Too much insulin, and your body cannot release glucagon. Glucagon is the hormone that will take the nutrient stored by insulin (protein, fat and carbohydrates) and turn them into energy. Insulin and glucagon play heavy roles in mood and energy levels.
How Can These Hormones Help Me Lose Weight?
Well, it’s actually pretty simple. In theory, if we keep these hormones happy, we should feel fuller on less food and teach our bodies to become fat burners instead of fat storers. So, we must figure out what types of foods will trigger which hormones.
- Protein: Protein is very filling for one reason: it triggers leptin.
- Carbohydrates: Too many of them can cause insulin to spike, causing our bodies to burn sugars instead of fat
- Fat: Triggers Leptin release, is burned when insulin is low and glucagon is used.
What Does This Look Like on a College Meal Plan?
- While a lot of college dining halls are keen on trying to lower fat, it is your job to try and eat higher fat, higher protein foods. The easiest, most sustainable way to lose weight is to become a fat hunter in your dining hall. Look for higher fat animal products like beef, or chicken with skin on it, to fill yourself up.
- Try and eat clean, real, whole foods rather than processed crap. Most of the food in your dorm room is probably highly processed, so the dining hall can actually help here. What you will need to look out for is food cooked in processed oils. Ask for eggs cooked in butter, avoid pre-made salad dressings and eat foods that look like they came straight from the source (aka not hit up the salad bar)
- Speaking of the salad bar, make it your best friend. What’s great about the salad bar is that you have a whole lot more options and control than some pre-made entree. Here are some great ways to spice up your salad bar.
- Limit your fruit intake. Fruit is going to be an easy snack to grab, but you are going to have to resist, most of the time. Keep plenty of beef jerky around and indulge in some dark chocolate every now and then.
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