Understanding your body's appetite drive

Understanding how your body works gives you the information you need to help it work better.

Understanding the way insulin controls your appetite is important. Insulin allows your cells to take in glucose from your blood for energy. Insulin also tells cells to store fat, and prevents stored fat from being broken down.

When you eat, carbohydrate from starches and sugars is broken down in to glucose and passes into the bloodstream, causing glucose levels in the blood to rise. Insulin is then released, allowing the glucose in the bloodstream to enter your cells, providing the energy they need to function. The excess energy is stored as fat.

In a healthy state, cells respond rapidly to insulin. But, if we eat or drink carbohydrates more often and in large quantities (for example by taking sugary drinks and eating lots of starchy foods and sweets), the body becomes resistant to insulin and the cells lose or reduce their ability to absorb glucose.

This results in the cells feeling starved of sugar and drives your appetite for more, even though there is plenty of sugar (as glucose) circulating in your bloodstream already.

If you want to reduce your appetite and cravings, improve your wellbeing and achieve weight loss, then getting your blood glucose and insulin levels down is key, as this will help your body to burn fat rather than store it.

Alongside this, there are a number of other hormones that control your appetite and how full you feel after eating.

So how can you control your body's appetite levels effectively?  Here are 7 actions you can take: 

Avoid or minimise sugar: For example, you could eat fewer biscuits and drink less fruit juice or fewer soft drinks

Reduce starchy carbohydrates: A low-carb diet can cause an immediate drop in insulin and blood glucose levels. You can do this by reducing the amount of bread, rice, potatoes, pasta, yams, plantain or fufu that you eat 

Fill up on protein: Eating enough protein (particularly at breakfast) reduces hunger hormone levels and increases levels of the hormones that make you feel full. High-protein breakfast foods include eggs, fish, Greek yoghurt and nuts

Eat plenty of healthy fats: These include fish like salmon and mackerel, olive oil, avocado, seeds and nuts. Eating enough fat lowers your insulin levels and releases a hormone that makes you feel full

Exercise regularly: Walking briskly or jogging can improve your body's insulin sensitivity within weeks

Get enough sleep: Poor sleep patterns result in high levels of cortisol, which in turn can increase appetite and weight gain

Reduce stress levels: Listening to music, walking in parks or other natural environments and practicing meditation or mindfulness are all strategies that can help reduce stress levels and reduce cortisol levels. This helps reduce your appetite and weight gain

Which of these are you going to take action on today?